The good news is the Atlanta Falcons own the NFC’s 2nd playoff seed. The not-so-good news is a divisional round game vs the Packers, Giants, or Seahawks.
The Atlanta Falcons will play their first playoff game against one of the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, or Seattle Seahawks. I have a lot of confidence in a match-up against each potential opponent, especially at the Georgia Dome. There’s also dynamics of each team that frighten the heck out of me. I’m honestly unsure of what team offers the Falcons the most favorable game come January 14th.
Green Bay Packers
The Falcons have already beaten “the Pack”, but it was earlier in the year and they aren’t the same team. If you remember, Atlanta had to come from behind to beat Green Bay. This was well before Green Bay figured out their offensive line and Aaron Rodgers promised to “run the table”.
The Packers’ defense has played better, but still isn’t great. They finished the regular season ranked 22nd in total yards allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed, and 21st in points allowed. It’s also worth noting they remain tough against the run; having finished as the league’s 8th-ranked run defense.
We have to respect that the Packers are on fire, finishing their season 6-0, and with the NFC North title. Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP-level and leads an offense ranked 8th in total yards, 7th in passing yards, and 4th in points scored. Ironically, Green Bay doesn’t possess much of a rushing threat, something Eddie Lacy fantasy owners are well aware of.
The gaping holes within Green Bay’s secondary bodes well for Atlanta’s high-potent passing attack. There’s a lot to salivate over in what is sure to be a shootout-of-game. Think ‘instant classic’ with the game being decided by whomever has the ball last.
we could argue the missed pass interference call robbed Atlanta of the chance to win
That Atlanta Falcons lost to the Seahawks this year but not by much. The game was played in Seattle and we could argue the missed pass interference call robbed Atlanta of the chance to win. Seattle’s offense isn’t very good, finishing the season ranked 18th in points scored and 25th in rushing yards. They were also 10th in passing yards and 12th in total yards, but their late-season sputter has been blatant.
Russell Wilson would come to Atlanta as the usual threat he is, and Jimmy Graham as the type of tight end that always gives the Falcons fits. The Falcons did manage to move the ball against Seattle, but we can’t discredit their defensive talent. This isn’t the same defense that wrecked Denver in the Super Bowl, but one that still ranks in the top 10 for virtually every major statistic. We have to think the Atlanta Falcons offense wouldn’t waste time further exposing the loss of Earl Thomas.
New York Giants
The New York Giants didn’t play the Falcons this year, but they compare well with Seattle. The Giants still pack an inconsistent Eli Manning at quarterback and an offensive weapon in Odell Beckham. New York has struggled on offense regardless, finishing 25th in yards, 17th in passing, and 29th in rushing. I can imagine the Falcons’ defense shining in this potential match-up. Odell is always a threat to make big plays, but my money would be on Vic Beasley to rush Eli’s throws.
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Defense has been the backbone of the Giants’ success. Their “D” finished ranked 2nd in points allowed and 3rd in rushing yards allowed. They boast a big-name secondary, but only rank 23rd in passing yards allowed and 23rd in total yards allowed. I would like to think Atlanta’s offense can scorch New York’s defense, but they feature the best secondary depth of all potential opponents.
We almost couldn’t have asked for more from the Atlanta Falcons this year. 11 regular season wins, the NFC South title, a first-round bye, and a home playoff game. Better yet, there was no mid-season swoon like we suffered through last year. The Falcons will play out January with a historically-good offense and a young, fast, and improving defense. A defense that includes NFL sacks leader and potential Defensive Player of the Year, Vic Beasley.
All that said, who do you want to see the Falcons play on January 14th at the Georgia Dome?