Angry Birds Will Likely Fly Past PackPosted:Oct 28th, 2016 2:57 pm
Let's take a look at the next five weeks. After an extended homestead, the Pack heads to Atlanta to begin a stretch of four road games over the next five weeks. What record do you hope the Packers can achieve over the next five? I'll take 3-2 right now. As banged up as they are, 3-2 would keep things afloat and in position for a final five game stretch.
It fees like this will be one of those two losses. The Packers catch the Falcons in an ornery mood, losers of two straight to take the shine off a 4-1 start and what looked like a march to the South division title, the way Carolina, Tampa and New Orleans were playing. After a three touchdowns in five minutes eruption in the second quarter against the Chargers, the Birds led 27-10 and seemed in control. But they scored just three points in the second half and allowed Philip Rivers to dink and dunk up and down the field. A late Matt Ryan pick helped send the game to overtime and a misguided fourth and one decision sealed their fate.
So, fresh off that stinging home loss, the high flying Birds welcome the Pack, who will try to slow their air attack with LaDarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson at cornerback. Needless to say, the Pack's pass rush needs to be at its best, to force Ryan out of his rhythm, and try to keep him off balance. They may or may not have Clay Matthews, who's once again questionable with a hammy--you know he desperately wants to match up against his cousin Jake, but even if he plays it's unlikely he'll be close to 100%.
Julio Jones presents the ultimate challenge for the Pack's hobbled secondary. He torched them in their last meeting and he's been as good as any receiver in the league this season. Expect the Falcons to look for him downfield all day, knowing that chances are very good he'll either catch it or draw the flag.
The Packers catch a break defensively with the absence of running back Tevin Coleman, the more explosive piece of the Flacons' strong two-headed running game. Devante Freeman will have to carry the load and he's a challenge as it is. He can turn busted plays into big gains, but he's undersized and unaccustomed to carrying the load.
The ten day break between games has given Mike McCarthy extended time to deal with his new reality on offense. Sounds like we'll see more of Knile Davis in the running game, but Ty Montgomery will likely still be counted on as well. With Randall Cobb dealing with a hamstring, we'll see if Jordy Nelson becomes more of a target this week. And can Davante Adams provide a follow up to his coming out party against the Bears? Who knows, maybe Geronimo Allison will get some chances.
There should be plenty of opportunities for Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. They've studied what worked for San Diego and it plays into the Pack's strengths: lots of short passes all over the field. The Falcons are near the bottom of most defensive statistics: their pass rush consists mainly of Vic Beasley at linebacker. While this unit is trying to emulate the Seahawks, they lack the personnel virtually everywhere. Their defensive line is below average and their secondary is a work in progress. Corner Desmond Trufant is the best playmaker and will likely shadow Adams.
It should be entertaining, with both quarterbacks moving up and down the field and lots of points scored. But the Falcons come in with a chip on their shoulder following two straight losses and the Packers just seem too banged up to hang with them for 60 minutes. I've seen a surprising number of national analysts pick the Pack this week, despite being two and half point underdogs. It would take a key turnover or play on special teams to pull it off.
Falcons 30 Packers 24
Much more on this game Sunday morning at 7. "Packer Preview" airs on KFAN, kfan.com and iHeart Radio. Hope to see some of you at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park to watch the game. Head past the bowling alley to the 11th Frame bar in back. That's our territory. Drink specials, great food and prizes to give away as usual.