Sunday the Packers and Falcons will meet for the NFL’s version of the toilet bowl. These two franchises have been a part of the upper echelon of the NFC over the last decade, with five NFC Championship appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Lombardi trophy between them since 2010. That will not be the case this year, as both these teams enter week 14 with dissipating playoff chances. The Falcons have lost four straight after their lousy 26-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Packers are not far behind with three straight losses, including a home loss to the 2-9 Cardinals last week.
That loss ended the reign of Mike McCarthy, who had been the Packers head coach since 2006 and helped them lift the Lombardi in 2010. Joe Philbin will be taking over as the interim head coach. He last was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2012-2015.
Despite this matchup being between two teams that have vastly underachieved, this one has the making of potentially being a fun ball game to watch. The Falcons have beaten the Packers three times in a row. Nobody can forget the clobbering Atlanta put on Green Bay in the 2016 NFC Championship. That was actually the second time the Falcons beat them that year. Then Atlanta put another beatdown on the cheese heads in week 2 of last year in an NFC Championship rematch. The weird thing about all those games; however, is that they all took place in Atlanta.
This one will not be. The Falcons are going to have to go to the freezing Tundra of Lambeau Field in December if they want to extend their win streak to four games. Although, they could not have picked a better time to do it.
The Packers look like a team ready to pack it in for the offseason. They have still yet to build a defense that can stop anybody, allowing 20 points or more to every opponent except for two (Dolphins, Bills). With that being said, there is an opportunity here facing a Falcons offense that has been stuck in the mud the last four weeks.
Atlanta has been unable to protect Matt Ryan, forcing him to face the most pressures of any quarterback through the first 12 weeks. He has also been sacked 36 times, good for 7th most in the NFL. Green Bay, while struggling defensively, has been able to come up with pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They rank tied for third with 38 sacks on the season. That’s where the Packers will have to be successful because if they give Ryan time, he is going to have a field day in Lambeau.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers does not look like the same guy we have seen over his career. It is almost a little insane we are saying this because the guy still has 21 touchdowns compared to 1 interception and a 99.3 passer rating, but some other stats tell a little bit of a different story. His current QBR of 54 would be the lowest of his career by over six points and his 61.8% completion percentage would be the second-lowest of his career. Nothing egregious, but definitely not the same type of dominance the whole world is used to seeing from Rodgers.
A key reason behind that has been Green Bay’s inability to protect him. This has been a problem for some time with the Packers and it appears to finally of hit its breaking point. The lucky thing for them is Atlanta does not have much of a pass rush. The Falcons rank 28th in sacks with a measly 23 on the year. They will have to get creative come Sunday, because like Ryan if Rodgers has time against Atlanta’s secondary it will be a long day.
There is no debating this is a bit of a weird matchup. It feels like this should be a game between two team jockeying for playoff position. Instead, the Falcons head into Lambeau with nothing but a draft pick on the line. Like I said at the beginning, this game has all the potential come down to the wire. I give Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a slight edge because this has the feel of a “prove it” game after Mike McCarthy was let go. The Falcons have not shown a pulse in weeks and they are on the road.
Falcons 24, Packers 31