Predictions: Week 2 – Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

21
Damarious Randall and Julio Jones

Shawn (1-0, 1-0 ATS): The rematch of the NFC Championship is here. Similar to that game, though probably not of the same magnitude considering what that game meant, I feel the excitement building for what should be a fun game. Hopefully, this game will have all the fun that game lacked.

After beating the top seed in the NFC in their house — the fact that it was the Dallas Cowboys making it even sweeter — the Green Bay Packers prepared for what was sure to be another high-scoring and high-skilled matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. Unfortunately, the scoring and the skill, as it turned out, was all on one side, as the Falcons pummeled the Packers in a cheerless game.

It might be natural for teams to look at their final game of the year and take that as a measuring stick for where they currently are. In other words, the Packers are this far behind the Falcons, a figurative distance that they have to make up if they want to win the NFC and get to the Super Bowl. However, whether it was the Falcons last season, or the Seahawks two years before that, or the 49ers before that, you would never hear a coach like Mike McCarthy refer to a final game in those terms, and he’d be right.

The banality of “every team is different” is of course an overstatement though true in the way that my house is different because I put a new basement bathroom toilet in. But McCarthy would still be right to treat it as such. The who and the where may change a little, but what changes without question is the WHEN. Just as it is pointed out about the schedule every year, it isn’t just the who and where you play people, it is the when you play them that can make the difference.

The Atlanta Falcons, and especially their offense, was the hottest team in football at the end of last season. Even though it is the beatdown of the Packers that concerns us most, the Falcons laid similar beatdowns to the Seattle Seahawks and to the New England Patriots through three quarters of the Super Bowl. In short, I don’t think there was anything stopping the Falcons at that particular moment in time. They were the 2011 Packers’ offense fully in rhythm. As it turns out, the only thing that could stop them was themselves when given a big lead.

So, even if all the players were exactly the same, I don’t think the results would be this time around. Week 1 suggests the Falcons are not in rhythm yet. They also have a new offensive coordinator. They also have a Super Bowl hangover big enough to make Sean Payton blanche.

Plus, it wasn’t just the Falcons. The Packers had nothing left. Sheer adrenaline can take you through the first quarter, but once Mason Crosby missed that kick, Aaron Ripkowski fumbled, and the quarter ended with zero points on the scoreboard, the Packers were done.

Are the Falcons the top contender in the NFC this year? Are they even the top team in their own division? We don’t know. That’s another reason not to set another team as your goal post; you’ll find the posts moving all the time.

The Falcons still have the pieces to score bunches of points, virtually the exact same pieces they had last year. In shutting down the Seattle Seahawks last week, the Packers’ defense proved it was capable of doing no more than what they did last year. For both units, it is a new year with something to prove.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more defense is played in this game than people are expecting. The key for the Packers will be containing the Falcons’ running backs, both on the ground and through the air. With the Nitro package on defense, the Packers are better prepared for that task than they’ve ever been. Julio Jones will get his. You double him when you have to and don’t let him take over the game.

The pass rush for both teams is huge, but it always is. We are curious, of course, to see if the Packers can supply near the rush they did last week against the Falcons’ much better, supposedly, offensive line. If Matt Ryan is allowed to relax in the pocket, there WILL be a lot of points scored.

For the Packers offensively, I look to see if Ty Montgomery can get off against a run defense that is not the Seattle Seahawks. If he can, or if he can be effective catching the ball, then the Packers’ offense will be difficult to stop. In that sense, the key for both defenses is likely stopping the backs of the opposing team. For Aaron Rodgers, it is all about rhythm.

I have zero concerns about the Falcons opening their new stadium. In my mind, that puts more pressure on them and is a distraction. However, the Vikings handled that well last year.

An NFC Championship game whooping aside, I still don’t believe the Falcons are the better team. Maybe they’ll stake their claim more emphatically this time. We will see. Until then, I will take the Packers in a close game with periods of stout defense and periods of offense.

Packers 27, Falcons 24

Monty (1-0, 1-0 ATS): I almost completely agree with Shawn here.

My keys to the game for both teams are pretty simple. Pass rush and running game.

I still don’t believe the Packers’ secondary is any good. Their deficiencies were covered up by a stout pass rush in week 1. Simply, someone was always in Russell Wilson’s face, which made him inaccurate or not able to make his full progression of reads. It certainly wasn’t as if receivers weren’t open. They were. Some of them were very open.

So, the biggest key for the Packers is if the pass rush can get off. If it can, then I think the Packers will be fine. Matt Ryan, unlike Aaron Rodgers, isn’t known for his ability to avoid the rush and extend plays.

So let’s say both pass rushes are putting pressure on. That’s advantage Packers.

As for the running game, I expect plenty of involvement from Ty Montgomery, both on the ground and through the air. That will open up the rest of the offense for the Packers. It will keep the Falcons’ front seven honest.

On the other side, Julio Jones is likely to go off. Containing Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is key. Shawn is right again. The Packers have never been better equipped to do that than with their Nitro package, which features Morgan Burnett at inside linebacker.

If it’s just Julio Jones who has a big day for Atlanta, the Packers will be fine.

There are, of course, two intangibles here.

First, opening the new stadium, which looks like a butthole. The fans will surely be fired up. The team will surely be fired up. However, once the game starts, that means nothing. Well, it means nothing other than — don’t let us down, guys!

Second, the Super Bowl hangover. I don’t know if Atlanta has it, but the way they lost that game… seems like it would be hard to recover from. What we saw in week 1 against the Bears didn’t make me think such a thing could be an impossibility.

We won’t really know anything about either of those things, though. What I think is really affecting the Falcons right now is their new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. As an L.A. resident, I can tell you he sucked as coach of USC. It’s also possible he just might be drunk today.

And what I can certainly tell you is he’s no Kyle Shanahan. The Falcons are certainly still adjusting. For that reason, primarily, I take the Packers.

Packers 27, Falcons 23

Line: Falcons by 3

About The Author

Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.

21 Comments on "Predictions: Week 2 – Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons"

  1. PF4L

    PF4L
    09/15/2017 at 3:21 pm

    ……..With that said, Atlanta’s offense looks like a shell of themselves with their new offensive coordinator. Kyle Shanahan he isn’t, so far. But more on that when the prediction article comes out. The timing of this game may mean very good things for the Packers this Sunday night, we’ll see.

  2. PF4L

    Maybe this is why killer queenie thinks i’m Monty.

    Like Monty, or more accurately, vice versa. The only reason i’m picking the Packers is because i think the Falcons will have some growing pains on offense. I wonder why the Falcons wouldn’t promote from within, someone who wanted to continue with Shanahan’s offense, instead of hiring Sarkisian. Didn’t the Falcons have the #1 offense last season? Why fix what isn’t broke?

    This is not to say the Packers defense won’t shit the bed, or the O-line won’t fold like a cheap suitcase, but i’ll take Packers 30-23.

  3. Deepsky

    No Bulaga. No Bahktiari. Rodgers sacked 7 times. And like the NFC Championship game, the Packers need 40 points to win.

    Falcons 42. Packers 24

  4. Shawn

    Wow, second week of the season and both starting tackles are inactive?
    The offensive tackle position has already staked a strong claim on this year’s position calamity. With Spriggs, that makes 3 of the top 4 tackles already out by Week 2. That would seem to make it more difficult for the Packers to win a high scoring game. If they can play defense, run the football, and stick with short passes, they’ll be fine.

  5. Gort

    Maybe McCarthy should start using his time-outs now.
    Don’t know how else to overcome no starting “O” tackles.

  6. Well I was going to agree with everything everyone wrote. With the tackle situation I don’t like the odds, but shit I have predicted Packer games for years and I always end up with the same record as the Packers. Positive waves.

    Did the Packers even pass blitz last week. Capers may have some surprises in blitz packages if the D line does not get to Ryan.

    I still think if the Packers can make Atlanta punt with a long field, the Falcons punter has a tendency to overkick his coverage. May see a long return from Davis. With that said Josh Jones needs to keep outside containment on punt and kickoff coverage. Last week more than one guy got outside Jones. The Falcons have a returner that can take it back if given a chance. GO PACK!

  7. PF4L

    PF4L
    03/12/2017 at 12:08 pm

    Sitton is gone, Tretter is gone, Lang is gone….Slowly, Ted takes off the layers of protection concerning Rodgers. God help #12 if we have injuries on the 0 line.

      • PF4L

        Well..lol….Take it in it’s entirety. i think you missed the point.

        Tretter was an effective back up left tackle. I’ve posted plenty of times about depleting depth by getting rid starters, no matter the position, and the dire situation we’d be in if our tackles got injured.

        God help #12 and cue the circus music. We might be playing musical chairs tonight.

        But yea, maybe i’ll just stop posting and just read and learn.

  8. PF4L

    Now the question is, who is our starting left tackle? Pankey?

    All hands on deck, keep tight ends and rb’s in for pass pro.

  9. Deepsky

    If McCarthy tries his spread offense and/or Rodgers holds on to the ball, we are going to see Hundley.

  10. Bob

    I will be the first to call for the firing of the three stooges. This game is pathetic. Another wasted draft . Can’t believe they passed on TJ Watt. What a bunch of losers that are running the Packers. That’s my 2 cents worth.

  11. KILLER

    Packers do terrible during games at stadium openings. Stadiums don’t open very often but, when they do, Packers lose. Just see last year when the Packers were well-defeated by the Vikings opening their new stadium. In fact, this history of poor work in new stadiums could be why the Packers still play in that decrepit thing they call a stadium. They are trying to avoid the inevitable loss when they open a new stadium. Which looks to happen in 2037.

    My prediction? Falcons ahead 24-7 at the half.

    Look for: I wrote tot he league and alerted them to the Packers frequent usage of subtle pick plays to free receivers. Dirty play. The league office has told me they will look for this in particular during the game.

Comments are closed.