As the Falcons gear up for the Packers, there are a few things to pay attention to leading up to the Week 2 contest.
The injuries are the most important. Atlanta has already ruled out Troy Andersen, who displayed concussion-like symptoms earlier in the week, while Jeff Okudah has a questionable designation. Obviously, Andersen is a tremendous loss because he’s a young, talented player but also because the Falcons linebacker depth isn’t encouraging.
On the other side, the Packers are dealing with a slew of injured stars. Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, David Bakhtiari, and Quay Walker have all been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Jones and Watson are nursing hamstring injuries, while Bakhtiari’s designation derives from his lingering knee issues. Walker is dealing with a concussion of his own.
The pair of signal callers is another storyline to watch. Jordan Love showed he’s capable of executing Matt LaFleur’s offense, which schemed up most of Green Bay’s explosive plays last week. In contrast, Desmond Ridder and Atlanta’s offense spun its tires for most of the season opener. The run game still looks like one of the best units in the league, though.
The defense is also littered with stars. Joe Barry coordinates a group led by Kenny Clark, Preston Smith, Rashaan Gary, Jaire Alexander, and Rasul Douglas. That’s not even mentioning the ascending stars like Devonte Wyatt, Lukas Van Ness, and Kinsley Enagbare along the front. This will be as difficult, if not more than Atlanta’s Week 1 opponent.
I was going to do an X-Factor for the Falcons to watch this week, but I figured I would highlight a Packers candidate. In my estimation, this game is going to be won in the trenches because both offenses build off the run game. That puts a lot of pressure on Green Bay’s front seven, which is where ESPN’s X-Factor for Green Bay plays:
Matchup X factor: Packers linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker. The Packers will need to stop the Atlanta run game and make Ridder throw the ball. Campbell and Walker will be key to that process. — Walder
I’d argue the entire Packers front seven should be the X-Factor because Kenny Clark is just as important as Preston Smith, who is just as important as Campbell and Walker. It’s a group effort, and they’ll all need to be playing at a high level to slow down this Atlanta rushing attack.