Sunday, October 5, 2008
Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers
1 PM ET
If this game had taken place in 2007, there would be much more meaning behind this game, as the Falcons traded some quarterback to the Packers back in 1992 who did a bunch of things while playing 16 years for the Packers. But alas, that quarterback is gone from Green Bay, thus taking much of the mileage that commentators were going to get out of this game. Instead they are going to talk about Atlanta reversing some curse of trading the aforementioned quarterback. Nothing in the NFL is a cakewalk and nothing in the NFL should ever be treated as one, but this game appears to be the easiest game on the Packers schedule to date. The Falcons were a disaster last year. First, Michael Vick. Second, Bobby Petrino. Third, the fact that they just sucked. But things are starting to look up for the team as they have a new face of the franchise in third overall pick Matt Ryan out of Boston College, who has been named the starter for the season. With a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Falcons look to be in for a long season. The key matchups:
Packers defense vs. Ryan: The Packers will have already faced a plethora of decent quarterbacks in the first four games of the season in Tarvaris Jackson, Jon Kitna, Tony Romo, and whoever the Tampa Buccaneers are throwing out there. Having a rookie in his fifth start back there will most definitely be appealing to the defense. Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins will look to give Ryan hell all game long and knock him around, forcing him to make quick decisions. The quick decisions will lead to big play chances for Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Atari Bigby, and the secondary. Ryan does not even have sufficient safety blanket options. Ryan’s main targets are Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and rookie Harry Douglas. The starting tight end listed on NFL.com is Ben Hartsock. Yeah. Free agent acquisition Michael Turner is probably Ryan’s best option in the offense. In the whole offense.
Packers D-line vs. Turner: As I said before, the Falcons really do not a sufficient supporting cast around Ryan, except for Turner. The Falcons will be counting on Turner to be a horse until Ryan gets his feet under him. Blocking for Turner is fullback Ovie Mughelli, a very talented blocker that is expected to team with Turner to form a very good backfield. Because of this, the pressure is on for Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, and Colin Cole to stop the run up the gut while getting support from Jenkins and Kampman on the outside. The Falcons offensive line is below average, helping out the Packers a little bit and making Ryan and Turner’s lives miserable.
Mark Tauscher & Chad Clifton vs. Jamaal Anderson & John Abraham: The Packers stout bookend tackles face a tall task in this game against the quick Anderson and the skilled Abraham. Clifton and Tauscher’s performance this season will affect the drafts of the future by Ted Thompson and of course it affects first-year starter Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is going to need time to pick apart a weak Atlanta secondary, and the tackles must give him time. The Packers O-line is a big question mark this year, but if Tauscher and Clifton show up to play, it won’t be that hard for Rodgers to develop.
The Verdict: The Packers win, 35-17.
The Packers are 4-1 through five games.
Tags: Aaron Kampman Aaron Rodgers Al Harris Atari Bigby Atlanta Falcons Ben Hartsock Bobby Petrino Chad Clifton Charles Woodson Colin Cole Cullen Jenkins Green Bay Packers Harry Douglas Jamaal Anderson John Abraham Johnny Jolly Jon Kitna Mark Tauscher Matt Ryan Michael Jenkins Michael Turner Michael Vick Ovie Mughelli Roddy White Ryan Pickett Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tarvaris Jackson Ted Thompson Tony Romo