The last time the Atlanta Falcons played the Green Bay Packers was on a cold winter night in December of 2014 at Lambeau field. It was not a forgettable game when Julio went for his then career high of 259 receiving yards, but the Falcons were unable to come away with the win. They lost 37-43 on a hard fought game. This time the Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers, far more loaded than the last time they faced each other. In order for the Falcons to beat the Packers, they must win these matchups:
3. The Falcons O-Line vs. the Packers Front Seven
This will be one of the toughest challenges for the Falcons offensive line this season. They are going up against the number one ranked run defense in the NFL. The Packers defense leads the league by giving up only 71.8 rushing yards per game this season. While Tevin Coleman is out with a hamstring injury, Devonta Freeman is expected to take the bulk of the carries. The Falcons have also brought up Terron Ward from the practice squad and signed Stevan Ridley to the Falcons roster. In this key matchup, Jake Matthews will face off against his cousin Clay Matthews to see who really is the best of the family. Expect to see more of a passing game, unless the Falcons can assert their running game early.
2. Desmond Trufant vs. Jordy Nelson
The last time these two faced, Jordy Nelson’s impressive 146 receiving yards and 2 touchdown game was eclipsed by Julio’s monstrous 259 receiving yards. In 2014, Jordy got the edge over cornerback Desmond Trufant, but expect this year to be different. Trufant has managed to improve his game tremendously and gain the respect of many players and coaches in his three seasons in the NFL. This season Trufant has stood his ground against some of the top receivers in the league, including Amari Cooper, Brandin Cooks, Demaryius Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin, and Doug Baldwin. Expect Aaron Rodgers to shy away from throwing it towards Desmond Trufant, which is a common trend for teams who play the Falcons.
1. Julio Jones vs. the Packers Defensive Backs
What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Julio Jones is having himself an outstanding season thus far. If he is able to get 170 or more receiving yards against the Packers, he will be on pace for a 2,000 yard receiving season. Julio Jones has consistently shown the league that he is the best wide receiver in the game of football, even though some still won’t give him that title. As mentioned above Julio has a good history when facing the Green Bay Packers, no matter the weather conditions.
When the Falcons just fell short in completing an upset at Lambeau field against the Packers, the only thing keeping them in the game was Julio Jones. This time around is different. The Falcons have shown this year that they can win without revolving the offense around Julio, by establishing a run game behind a very underated offensive line and throwing the ball to multiple different receivers. Nevertheless, expect Julio Jones to have another major impact in the game, like he had the last go around with the Packers.