We kickoff our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the biggest games of the 2016 for the Atlanta Falcons. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
Falcons five biggest games of 2016 #5: Green Bay Packers, Week 8
When the Falcons and Packers meet, we often witness an entertaining game. The results haven’t exactly been desirable in recent years, but for a neutral spectator they have been must-watch television.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has had his way over the Falcons. Nobody will forget his dominant display inside the Georgia Dome in the 2010 playoffs en route to a Packers Super Bowl win. But Green Bay’s recent dominance in this game hasn’t just been off the back of Rodgers’ arm, backup Matt Flynn guided the Packers past the Falcons in 2014.
Dan Quinn’s record against the Packers is a little more encouraging, and he certainly won’t fear the two-time MVP and a high-powered offense. Quinn was defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks the last time he came up against the Packers. Everyone remembers their dramatic collapse in the NFC Championship Game, right?
And Quinn will look to slow down Rodgers this year in the same way he did twice in 2014. Defensively the Falcons don’t yet have the same firepower that Seattle unit did, but that doesn’t mean Atlanta can’t find a way to slow down one of the league’s premier offenses.
Last five meetings with Packers
December 8, 2014: Packers 43, Falcons 37
December 8, 2013: Packers 22, Falcons 21
October 9, 2011: Packers 25, Falcons 14
January 15, 2011: Packers 48, Falcons 21*
November 28, 2010: Falcons 20, Packers 17
*Indicates playoff game
For starters, the Packers wide receivers struggled last season without Jordy Nelson. Nelson returns from a torn ACL this year, but he is 31-years-old and has been out of the game for a year. It’s no guarantee he will return to his 2014 form, and Desmond Trufant will make it his mission to ensure he doesn’t have a good afternoon.
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If Trufant can slow down Nelson, the Falcons secondary can feel confident of doing the rest. Randall Cobb was disappointing last season, as was Davante Adams. There is plenty of buzz surrounding third-year receiver Jeff Janis in Titletown, but he hasn’t been able to translate his blend of size, speed and athleticism with consistent production.
There is of course history between these two teams, and Falcons fans would love nothing more than to return the favor of recent losses against Mike McCarthy’s team.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have found success against the Green Bay defense along the way. Julio Jones caught 11 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown at Lambeau Field two years ago, ranking 19th all-time for most receiving yards in a game.
On paper, the Falcons offense will pose more of a threat than it did on that cold night in Wisconsin. With the emergence of Devonta Freeman, the arrival of Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper as well a significantly stronger offensive line, the Packers will have more work to do defensively.
The Packers have got stronger on defense, however. With second-year corners Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, Dom Capers’ defense boasts one of the best young secondaries in the league. Jones will need to find a way to overcome a talented group of defensive backs.
When the Packers come to town, it’s worth paying attention. This will be one of the hardest games for Coach Quinn and his team, and the Falcons will need to be at their best to take down one of the NFC’s best teams.
Can the Falcons snap their losing streak?