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Packers Periscope: Week 14 vs. Atlanta Falcons

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Packers Periscope: Week 14 vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Green Bay Packers are coming off of a horrible loss to the Arizona Cardinals and will try to pick up the pieces in hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Lamebeau Field.

Mike McCarthy was let go shortly after the Arizona game and Joe Philbin will make his debut as Packers interim head coach.

Let's look more closely at the Packers and Falcons match up.

The Past

The Packers lead the all-time series 17-16, dating back to 1966 but it's the more recent history that seems most prominent.

Following the 2002 season, the Packers lost their first ever playoff game at Lambeau Field to Atlanta, led by quarterback Michael Vick.  The Packers had beaten the Falcons earlier that season, on opening day and in overtime.

In 2010, the Packers were pushing to stay in the playoff hunt and visited Atlanta late in the regular season.  They lost a close game but returned just a few weeks later in the divisional round of the playoffs.

After a fast start by Atlanta, the Packers charged back and put up one of their best postseason showings ever in sending the top-seeded Falcons home.  Green Bay, of course, went on to win Super Bowl XLV that season.

Green Bay dominated the series for a few more years until 2016.  With a depleted receiver corps, the Packers came up just short to Atlanta during the regular season.  They ended up back in the Georgia Dome for its final game, the 2016 NFC Championship game.

Once again facing many injuries, the Packers ran out of steam and were sent home.  That was the last playoff game the Packers have appeared in.

In week two of the 2017 season, the Packers helped the Falcons open their new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  It was the second straight year the Packers played the first game in a new stadium and also the second straight year they went home losers. (U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in 2016).

The Present

The Packers are now trying to navigate the last month of the season while searching for their next head coach.  Assistant head coach Winston Moss was also let go earlier this week in a move that could signal more changes to come.

Green Bay fell to 4-7-1 but still manage to be favored this week by 5.5 points. One would have thought Vegas would learn.

Part of the reason for that spread may be Atlanta's recent struggles.  They have lost four straight and now sit at 4-8.  Atlanta has dealt with several key losses due to injury, including running back Devonta Freeman, Keanu Neal and both starting offensive guards.

Typically in a game like this in early December, the story centers around two great quarterbacks leading their teams against one another.  This season, it's what is left of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan as both have struggled in forgettable years.

Here is where I usually talk a bit about where teach team is ranked on offense and defense but that really doesn't seem to matter with the Packers this year.  They seem destined to bust through every trend possible, and typically not in the positive direction.

Whatever Atlanta does well, they will still do well against the Packers.   Whatever Atlanta doesn't do well, they will suddenly do well against the Packers.  Whatever the most obvious thing is to key on with Atlanta, the Packers will somehow fail to account for.

Sprinkle in some head shaking mistakes, probably mostly on special teams because Ron Zook is still the coordinator.

Sounds really negative, doesn't it?  Yep, that's where we're at with these Packers.  I don't expect Philbin's presence or approach to make much difference in how the Packers play.

The Future

That's not to say that the Packers can't win this game.  It's still one they should get.  But at this point, I trust this team about as much as I do a three year old behind the wheel of a car.

The big question is whether Green Bay has any fight left in them and starts showing up in an effort to move forward.  Or will they send a cold and frozen Lambeau Field crowd home, once again disappointed?

Prior to last week, the Packers had not lost at home.  Atlanta has won only one road game this season.

I expect 60 minutes of subpar football that likely ends mercifully and hopefully with the Packers ahead.  

They can do what they must in New York and Chicago, but I hope they give the home fans some last bits of cheer before they pack it up in 2018.

-- Jason is a freelance writer and has been on staff since 2012.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Duke Divine's picture

Who they playing? If it's another bird mascot the pack are doomed!

pacman's picture

Another game that will be won/lost on whether AR gets himself back on track.

But it is also possible that with all the injuries on D, we get run over. But that will be more that point of the Bears game. Bears must be salivating already.

Lare's picture

A couple things that could change the outcome this week are utilizing productive players better (Aaron Jones, Robert Tonyan, Jake Kumerow, etc.) and calling plays that give the players on the field the best chance to be successful (quick passes, slants, screens, reverses, etc.).

It'll be interesting to see if some of these happen or if the team is going to slink out of the season with the same-old, same-old.

flackcatcher's picture

To many injuries at too many positions. A well played and executed game would be nice for change, and both teams are suffering from the injury bug. So that may be asking for a level of play that may be not possible.

Johnblood27's picture

productive and Tonyan and Kumerow in the same sentance?

Is this where we are a s a team?

Wow.

The second part about getting young guys reps, I can buy that.

I hope to see more of Tonyan and Kumerow in that respect.

Getting guys in position to succeed, that is a novel idea and might just be where Philbin can show some immediate improvement over a MM coached team.

I hope to see more play calls where guys like AJ, MVS and ESB can actually use the skills they have demonstrated and show some flashes of production which can translate into a platform for confident improvement going into next years program.

The defense is just so very beat up. I would like to see a game bunch play hard, but I just dont see how they can stop an NFL teams offense.

The injuries just have decimated this low talent part of the team already.

ST? Zook? Why bother.

jlc1's picture

This says it all.

ILPackerBacker's picture

What's amazing is two coaches are out at green bay and ZOOK remains.

Lare's picture

Just goes to show you that in America, if you work really hard, do your job really well and follow all the rules it still won't help you get ahead of an incompetent person that's a friend of the boss.

Samson's picture

However, Zook doesn't have a "Twitter" account. -- He's safe until 12/31/18.

Archie's picture

Zook = dead man walking. :)

Jonathan Spader's picture

I'm excited to see if we see a change on offense with Philbin calling the shots. I'm hoping to see more Aaron Jones opportunities. On defense Atlanta is tough to stop if they fire on all cylinders. These teams have been very similar in 2018. Both have suffered a ton of injuries and have been streaky on offense.

porupack's picture

Treat the rest of the season like pre-season. Get young players chance to showcase their potential and some game experience. Just pack up Rodgers/DAdam/Baktiari/Bulaga/Lindsley/Matthews/Clark and a few other key pieces and give them an early holiday. The rest can go try to win.

Samson's picture

Not a bad idea but for two things, --- The NFL has a real issue with teams reducing their 'competitive edge' when out of the playoff picture. -- Also, there are still big bucks involved in any NFL game in connection with Vegas.

PatrickGB's picture

I am a solid fan of the Packers. But with all the injuries and with backups playing I don’t see how this team is favored. I just don’t. But I am a fan so I root for them to win.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I really don't understand the Packers being favored by 5.5 points against the Falcons. It will be interesting to see Philbin's game plan against the Falcons and how he manages the rest of the season. Will be use Aaron Jones more? Will he use a different approach on converting 3rd downs? Will he give more opportunities to players like Kumerow and Tonyan and other talented rookies? Will he hold players accountable? Will he allow Rodgers to call more of the plays? Will he have fresh ideas or will he revert to the same old, same old game management? As always, I will root for the Packers. Go! Pack! Go!

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