The Green Bay Packers will face the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night in a rematch of the two teams that met in the playoffs last year.
Many, including SI’s Peter King, have picked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl this year, but have been a big disappointment so far.
In fact, by barely beating the Seattle Seahawks last week, many are now questioning whether this is a playoff caliber team.
Well, we know this is the National Football League and things change from week to week. There are always surprises and the Seahawks may have sneaked up on the Falcons.
So, despite their record and the Packers’ fast start, Sunday’s game, at least on paper, should be a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Jamie Kelly, the Falcons’ blogger with the fansided site Blogging Dirty, took time out of his busy week to sit down and answer some questions that I threw at him about Sunday night’s matchup.
Take the jump to the questions and his answers:
Q. The Falcons gave up a boatload of future draft picks to jump up in the draft to select Julio Jones. What was the overall feeling among the media and fan base about this move and do you feel that it’s too early to tell if it was the right longterm decision?
A. Admittedly, the Falcons gave up a lot to move up to the 6th overall pick, but Julio Jones already seems like he was worth it. He has exploded onto the scene and has been the Falcons’ best receiver this year (even better than Roddy White). Julio, at the moment, is on pace for 100 catches and over 1,200 yards! For a rookie wide receiver that is incredibly rare. Julio Jones looks set to become one of the best WR in the NFL in a few years, he is that good!
The question of whether they gave up too much is still to be determined. The Falcons were not concerned about giving away the 2nd rounder and two 4th round selections as they felt they had enough mid-round picks already on the roster that were developing nicely. Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons GM) however, was very reluctant to give up next year 1st to the Browns in the draft day trade, so losing that selection could possibly hurt in the long run, as the Falcons usually do a nice job of drafting in the 1st round.
Q. How much of a factor will revenge play in Sunday night’s matchup between the two teams?
A. There will be an element of revenge in Sunday’s game. In general though I think the Falcons have gotten past the beat down and moved on. For Falcons players and fans, the game against Mike Vick and Philly mattered a lot more. If the Packers players start to rub it in a bit by trash talking, that could really get the Falcons players going and could motivate them to play better.
To be honest, it is still the regular season, the Falcons know a win against the Pack won’t change anything. If they meet in the playoffs however, I expect revenge to be a major factor in that game and certainly be motivation for the Falcons players.
Q. With the Packers defensive backfield being gashed week after week by quarterbacks with fewer credentials than Matt Ryan, has there been talk about how the Atlanta quarterback may be licking his chops for his chance at the Packers?
A. Not really, the Falcons respect the Packers too much for that kind of talk. Matty Ice certainly could have some success against the Pack pass defense. Expect that to be the main point of attack for the Falcons offense.
Q. Though the Packers defense has been leaking like a sieve the first four weeks, it seems like they have come up with the big play at just the right time. How do you feel the Falcons will attack the Pack? Will they use the run to set up the pass or just come out blazing through the air.
A. It will be a pass first mentality i expect. However, they will try and get the running game going as well. It all comes down to the Falcons O-Line, if they can run block well (which they haven’t done recently) then the run game will be feature more heavily. As it stands, look for Matt Ryan to try and get the ball to Tony G and Julio Jones in particular.
Q. Will the Falcons defense find a way to slow the Packers offensive juggernaut that has scored more than 30 points per game in all four regular season games? If so, what do you feel will be their strategy?
A. To be honest, I do not see a way the Falcons will hold the Packers yardage down. Their only hope is forcing turnovers in the red zone (the Falcons have been very good at doing that this year) and try to limit the scoring. I expect the Packers to be around the 30 points total though, as Aaron Rodgers has been incredible so far this season.
Q. This is a key game for the Falcons to keep pace in the NFC South race. What are your predictions for the winner? Who will be the player of the game?
A. The Packers will miss FS Nick Collins, as that area is where the Falcons like to target most on the skinny posts and on the 9 route. This absence could allow the Falcons to score a fair few points on the Packers D. I will go for a high scoring encounter, 35-31 to the Falcons.