Atlanta Falcons vs. Packers: Behind Enemy Lines with Lombardi Ave
A Q&A with Raymond Rivard of Lombardi Ave ahead of the Atlanta Falcons week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football
It’s an NFC Championship Game rematch this Sunday, and a crucial early season heavyweight clash within the conference between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers. We had a conversation with one of the people who covers the Green Bay Packers. Raymond Rivard of Lombardi Ave — the Green Bay Packers’ FanSided page — answered a few questions ahead of the matchup.
BD: We all remember what happened last time these two teams met, in the NFC Championship Game. As someone who covers the Packers, do you think this will be just another regular season game, business as usual so to speak, or will the Green Bay players have revenge on their minds after what happened to them in January?
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RR: I think revenge is somewhat of a factor, but this is a whole new season with new players, a new schedule, new coaches and the like, so the bottom line is that this is a regular season game with huge implications. The winner (and the loser) will look back on this game in January and realize the importance for playoff seeding. So, though it’s only the second game of the year, this will have a big impact on how things line up come playoff time.
BD: Green Bay’s defense gave up 493 yards of total offense in that NFC Championship game. What adjustments do you expect to be made to slow down Atlanta’s high powered offense this time around?
RR: The Packers’ entire offseason changes were grounded in the results of that NFC Championship loss. It was clear the Packers defensive backfield was in a shambles, so GM Ted Thompson went out and drafted CB Kevin King with their first selection, brought back CB Davon House in free agency, and drafted safety Josh Jones with the intent of implementing their “Nitro” defense that slides defensive backs into the linebacker spot to stop the run and to help cover slot receivers. The Packers also invested heavily into their defensive line to get pressure up front in order to help the defensive backfield. Expect to see the Packers bring pressure with their OLBs, provide pressure up the middle with the defensive linemen and to fill the defensive backfield with speedy, tall and rangy defensive backs who can cover and can hit. Probably the strongest position on the defense is the safety position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, coupled with the addition of Jones, gives the team depth and skilled players at the position.
BD: The injury report heading into this game looks pretty grim for the Packers, with starting tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari both questionable. I would guess that they’ll both suit up but how will Green Bay’s offense be affected if these two players are not at 100%?
RR: Those injuries are significant. Bulaga was out last week and Kyle Murphy filled in nicely for him, but if both Bulaga and Bakhtiari are out, the Packers will be in huge trouble along the offensive line and will need to make significant adjustments in their blocking schemes to be successful. It looks to be a game time situation for those two guys, so we’ll wait and see on that. However, it was also announced today that defensive lineman Mike Daniels could also miss Sunday … that, too, would be a huge loss for the Packers, but not as bad as losing both offensive tackles.
BD: My under the radar player to watch out for in this game from a Falcons’ perspective is De’Vondre Campbell. Give me an under the radar name on Green Bay’s offense or defense who could make a difference in this game.
RR: I’m going to go with wide receiver Geronimo Allison. He was out on a single-game suspension last week, but comes back this week to add to the wide receiving corps. He’s a tall, rangy, fast receiver who, in his second season, always seems to be around the ball and ready to make plays. Look for him to slide into the lineup, especially on third downs. Aaron Rodgers likes him a lot because he runs accurate routes and gets open. He’s one of those sneaky fast-type of players who can also go up and out-jump cornerbacks for the ball.
Next: Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers: Where Are They Now
BD: How do you think this game will play out come Sunday Night? Please provide a score prediction as well.
RR: Everyone is projecting this to be a shootout in the Falcons’ new stadium on a fast track. I’m not so sure. There will be scoring, but I think both defenses will play a bigger role in the final outcome than many anticipate. Because of the intangibles … Packers on the road, opening up an opponent’s new stadium, Sunday Night Football … I think it will be close, but the Falcons win it at the end, much like they won the regular season matchup last season.
Falcons 27 Packers 26