Why Green Bay Will Beat the Falcons and Why it Might Not

Why Green Bay will beat the Falcons and why it might not 

Before the start of the season, when you looked at the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons on the schedule, you might have thought since it was in December, it would be a game with major playoff implications.

After all, the two teams just met for the NFC championship in 2016 and each has been a regular participant in the postseason the past few years. However, even with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan at quarterback, the two teams have a combined eight wins at this point. Green Bay is 4-7-1 and just fired its head coach, while the Falcons are 4-8.

At this point, I believe the Packers have about a two-percent chance of making the playoffs, yet a win against Atlanta at Lambeau Field Sunday could at least keep them mathematically alive for another week. Outside of that, Green Bay just needs to a win a game, for itself and for the fans.

The Packers have lost three straight and those losses haven't been pretty. The sad thing is that during the stretch that saw the Packers lose five of six games, Green Bay had a chance to win all five games it lost. 

Green Bay had the Rams on the ropes and was about to take the lead on New England, but huge fumbles by Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones ended hopes in those two games. Then, Rodgers, McCarthy and the defense managed to give away the game and a fourth-quarter lead to Seattle, only to come out and get a lead against Minnesota only to blow that too.

It's not like Green Bay was getting blown out. It just isn't doing the little things that you need to do to win. Rodgers isn't really making a big impact and the defense just isn't getting stops when it matters most.

That's also why Joe Philbin will be coaching this game as the Packers interim head coach. Something had to change in the eyes of Mark Murphy and now the former Dolphins head coach gets a chance to prove himself over the final month, even though a 4-0 record probably wouldn't even give him a shot at getting the job.

The trusted old assistants generally don't make great head coaches and in his first stint as a head coach, Philbin was very uninspiring. Maybe things will be different this time around. If it's going to be, the Packers need a win today and here is a look at why that will happen and also why it might not.

Why Green Bay will win

Like the Packers, the Falcons have also been on a downward spiral, losing four consecutive games after starting the season 4-4 and while the defense has been a major issue, so has the offense. In six of the first eight games, Atlanta went over 400 yards of total offense. But since then, the Falcons have failed to reach the 400-yard mark, which is significant because Atlanta is 4-2 when it racks up 400 yards or more offensively. 

That kind of stat doesn't seem to bode well for the Packers, however, the Falcons defense ranks 26th in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed. That should give Rodgers and Philbin a lot of confidence going into this week as they try to attack a defense that doesn't have much going for it. 

Of course, the key to getting the offense going will be getting Rodgers back on track. His numbers look spectacular, but really, he is playing as poorly as he has since 2015. At times, it has been downright ugly. He's holding the ball too long, taking unnecessary sacks, missing wide open receivers and sometimes not even throwing to them. It has been startling to watch. His performance in the fourth quarter against Seattle was pitiful. 

Not many quarterbacks can be disappointed about 3.500 yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception, but it sounds much better than it has been. Rodgers has also taken 35 sacks, many of which have been a result of his indecisiveness.

So the first order of business for Philbin is getting Rodgers back on track. I don't exactly know how you do that, although some no-huddle and more up-tempo could work. Rodgers needs to stop thinking so much and play. He needs to stop trying to make the spectacular play and make the easy check down. Take what the defense gives him until an opportunity for a big play strikes. 

While the Falcons pass defense is bad, the run defense is even worse, ranking 27th in rushing yards and touchdowns allowed this season. That could mean a big day for Aaron Jones, who hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire either. The run game as a whole has averaged a measly 76 yards per game in the losing streak. That needs to change today and it should against the Falcons. Rodgers should also get going.

If not, the rest of this season is going to get ugly.

Why Green Bay could lose

Green Bay could lose this game because Matt Ryan is a damn good quarterback and Julio Jones is still one of the best players in the league, period. Jones does come in with a foot injury, however, he was listed as probable, so he should be a full go. Calvin Ridley was also probable this week and just thinking about how the Packers are going to stop those two guys gives you reason enough why Atlanta could steal a win.

The Packers secondary has been ravaged with injuries and it doesn't seem up to the task of slowing down Jones. The best hope for the Packers is that Kenny Clark and Kyler Fackrell can put some pressure on the quarterback and maybe force Ryan into a mistake or two.

Atlanta is last in the league in rushing yards, so Green Bay should be able to hold up on the ground, although it wasn't able to last week, as it allowed 182 rushing yards to Arizona. 

The bottom line is that this game is all about which team shows up. The Packers didn't show up last week, even though their coaches job was on the line. It was pathetic and to be honest, a little sad. 

The team had the audacity to give Mike McCarthy a standing ovation after he spoke to the team Wednesday. Well, if he meant that much to them, why didn't they play with any sense of urgency against a weak Cardinals team, a team the Packers should have throttled.

We will see if things are different this week, but the Packers showed very little fight a week ago and if they come out like that again, there is a good chance their losing streak will be extended to four games. 

 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Comments (34)

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Lphill's picture

December 09, 2018 at 07:14 am

Run Aaron run !

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SJ EC's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:51 am

But only *that* Aaron!

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The TKstinator's picture

December 09, 2018 at 07:50 am

Nothing would surprise me.

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Samson's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:02 am

Both teams are just playing out the season. -- Who wins is insignificant.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:40 am

I'll come out and say it at the risk of being called "not a true fan."

This year is over. This team, even if a miracle happened, is not playing anywhere near well enough to do anything in the playoffs. I want a top 5 pick. I want a team effort. I want them to look better. And I want them to lose. And, other than against the Bears, I want them to lose the rest of their weeks.

Yes, I went there. Yes, I'm still a huge diehard. No, I don't care what labels anyone else throws at me, because I know I'm right. :P

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4zone's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:26 am

Sorry BM, can't get on that wagon. There is too much benefit that could be achieved long term to throw in the towel. The next 10 years could ride on the next 4 games. Is Philbin the guy or not? Can he be the guy to manage AR successfully and ignite this offense? Is Kizer a legit backup or just another Hundley? Can Kumerow be the future replacement for Cobb? Is Jameson a replacement for Davis or a legit Safety option for us?

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:35 am

1. Philbin is not the guy.
2. No.
3. Better than Hundley I'd guess, but why would he play over ARod for even a series unless the game is a blowout?
4. Kumerow can play well, or play poorly, and they still could lose. He's going to, at best, be WR3 in the future. And probably WR4-5.
5. My guess is no, but again, the answer to that question probably won't mean the difference between a win and a loss.

This is the year to grab a pass rusher, right? Why would we not want our pick of the litter? A top 5 pick might get Bosa to fall in our laps... Top 15? Hell no.

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Holecrap's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:42 am

How a the one pick. Let's hope they don't go after the extremely over rated trashed Gary. Trust me he is Perry 2.0. Goes missing in games, fe8ns injury when being handled and cares about himself and da moooney then winning.

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:35 am

"I'll come out and say it - risk being called "not a true fan."

Get off my lawn!!! : )

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Gort's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:12 am

I don't know what to expect. I haven't seen our Packers play with a sense of urgency in a long, long time. Not sure if that will change until next year. I just hope they don't wave the white flag and surrender before halftime.

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Nick Perry's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:14 am

Right now the Cleveland Browns are actually being thought of as the TOP coaching vacancy in the NFL. What I'll be watching above all else is how every player on the Packers roster responds this week. If they have a bit of heart and pride, want to SHOW everyone it wasn't them but McCarthy, then they need to respond.

Atlanta has NOTHING to play for. EVERY Packers player and coach had something to do for McCarthy getting fired mid-season. IF this team is as talented as we thought in September AND they have even a bit of sack, they should blow the Falcons out.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:36 am

It's clear the team is not as talented on offense as we thought. It's also clear this team has no "sack." It's also clear that this team is beat to hell on defense.

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:39 am

The ' negative truth ' police should be coming for you shortly. Stand strong...stay vigilant and know you're not alone. : )

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Nick Perry's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:57 am

You and I both thought at the beginning of Camp they were a year, maybe two away. The "Homer" in us got the better of us and we started to fudge on our original thoughts. BUT I saw Rodgers smiling ON the field last week at one point and it was after yet another horrible play from Rodgers.

THAT is exactly the kind of CRAP I don't want to see. Not today, tomorrow, or the next few seasons the Packers are paying him $30 million plus a year. I couldn't believe it when I saw it and personally I lost a ton of respect for Rodgers. The absolute BEST part of coming to coach the Packers is Aaron Rodgers. It's also being talked about as possibly the reason why not to come to GB. I never thought I'd see that day.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:17 am

Just off the top of my head, that happened with Favre, Marino and Manning too. The problem is that all those QBs got too big for their player britches. The coaching staff let them get away with too much.

Rodgers is an EMPLOYEE. Not the EMPLOYER. The next coach needs to remind him of that, and we'll have another good few years. If not, whelp... the 80's may not be too far away in the 2020's.

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stockholder's picture

December 09, 2018 at 11:30 am

They will always be a year or two way, until Arron Rodgers retires. Why ?- Safety play. Line Backer play, offensive Line play. The same thing that happened to McCarthy's offense, will happen to the defense. The defense is banged up. The offensive Line must be rebuilt. The biggest problem they have is, pertecting a fragile QB. (Arron is one more hit from retirement.) You only have two #1s. The packers must time the strength of the draft. The Wrs must develop or there is your next add- on problem. People want a new TE. A year or two with a new coach is like shutting off Niagra Falls. It can be done, but my bet is management will be going over the falls in barrels.

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4zone's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:27 am

Have no interest in a team that thinks tanking is a legitimate play.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

December 09, 2018 at 08:50 am

With no chance of the playoffs it would be nice to see some of the younger players get a shot at showcasing their skills. We already know what happens when the veterans are playing. Just look at the record. Rotate the rookies in during the game and see what they have to offer. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing the younger players. It's an opportunity that can determine who stays on the team and who does not.

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John Galt's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:28 am

Please lose and get a better draft choice.

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John Galt's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:28 am

Please lose and get a better draft choice.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:57 am

Anybody know what happened to the “Grading the Pack” article that used to appear weekly? It was my favorite feature but I haven’t seen it lately.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 10, 2018 at 02:33 am

Mr. Herman has posted that article every single week so far.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 10, 2018 at 09:00 am

I can’t find it. Last one I see is the Vikes. Do I have an obsolete app or something?

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 09, 2018 at 09:59 am

Winning now is more wrong than losing.
yes, a couple of individual players would love to shine for reasons understood, but the overall grades of the majority of players is already done.
The couple in question will also have their chances next preseason. Use them today but let's not abuse them or risk them to save the name of those veterans who crapped on us all season.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:18 am

so, we should play Kizer and Boyle then?

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:44 am

No...let Rodgers throw away another 50 passes and get boo'ed...he had a hand in this season long sh%t fest...let him eat some more.

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Since '61's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:35 am

The Packers are down 3 starters on the OL. We could see the offense go backwards with penalties, TFLs and sacks. Not a good way to start the Philbin era. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Gort's picture

December 09, 2018 at 11:08 am

Maybe that means there are fresh legs.
Maybe that means even more sacks.

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Swisch's picture

December 09, 2018 at 11:47 am

You may be right, Since '61, but the good news may be more quick passes. Let's see if Philbin can find more ways to get receivers open, and even more ways to mix up the running game with things like jet sweeps.
Finally, let's hope all of these Packers, including the reserves on the offensive line, seize this opportunity to step up and make a claim for playing time going forward.
It's tough times for us fans, but the fun part is seeing if some new guys will step up for the future.

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Swisch's picture

December 09, 2018 at 12:32 pm

On the first drive for the offense, there's the short passes! :-)
Where's Aaron Jones? :-(

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Swisch's picture

December 09, 2018 at 01:03 pm

Aaron Jones sighting is good, but we need more of him.
Mason Crosby comes through from fifty! He's a pro, and our kicker for the next couple of years at least.

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Swisch's picture

December 09, 2018 at 02:17 pm

Thank you, thank you, for more of Aaron Jones! :-)
How about some Kumerow and Tonyan?

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cheesehead1's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:54 am

Hoping Kumerow is more involved. Let’s see what he’s got.

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Packers0808's picture

December 09, 2018 at 10:55 am

Rodgers it seems has PURPOSELY blown throws and games for his own interests! If he is calling plays at the line he sure has done a lot worse than McCarthy ever did!

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