The Falcons open their home slate with a NFC Championship Game rematch on NBC’s Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers in their brand spankin’ new Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Closing the Georgia Dome, they tore up the Packers in their last matchup, but expect the Packers to put up more of a fight now that receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams should be fully healthy.
Around the NFL: The Giants see four players find their way to NFL’s Top 100
What’s Trending: Adrian Wojnarowski officially joins the ESPN team
cover32 Debates: How much value do RB’s have in today’s game
NFL Reaction: The Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning debate continues
It should be a fun night when the Falcons present their shiny new stadium. Another fun perk of the stadium will be the lowest concession costs in the NFL, according to Falcons’ President and CEO Rich McKay. $2 popcorn? $2 hot dogs? Sign me up!
Packers’ 2016 Rankings
2016 Record: 10-6 [1st in NFC North; Lost in NFC Championship Game]
Point Differential: +44 [8th]
Turnover Differential: +8 [6th]
Yards per game: 368.8 [8th]
Points per game: 27 [4th]
Passing yards per game: 262.4 [7th]
Rushing yards per game: 106.3 [20th]
Yards allowed per game: 363.9 [22nd]
Points allowed per game: 24.3 [21st]
Passing yards per game: 269.3 [31st]
Rushing yards per game: 94.7 [8th]
Packers’ Important Additions
TE Martellus Bennett [UFA – NE]
CB Kevin King [Drafted UW – 2nd Round]
CB Davon House [UFA – JAX]
DT Ricky Jean-Francois [UFA – WAS]
WR Malachi Dupre [Drafted LSU – 7th Round]
Packers’ Important Departures
TE Jared Cook [UFA – OAK]
RB Eddie Lacy [UFA – SEA]
CB Micah Hyde [UFA – BUF]
C J.C. Tretter [UFA – CLE]
HB Christine Michael [UFA – IND]
G T.J. Lang [UFA – DET]
Packers’ Biggest Threat
The Packers are Aaron Rodgers. Their running game is practically non-existent, with converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery slated to start at running back.
Rodgers finished first in the NFL in passing touchdowns and fourth in passing yards for 2016, and was just named the league’s number two passer by cover32’s own Ian Glendon. Expect more of the same from Rodgers, especially since he’s Green Bay’s best chance at winning the division.
Falcons’ Offense Versus Packers’ Defense
The Packers are the reverse of last week’s matchup against the Bears: strong run defense, but poor pass defense. The team added Washington Huskies’ corner Kevin King in the draft, but haven’t done much other than bring back the underwhelming Davon House.
Expect the Falcons to score big, but mostly through the air.
Falcons’ Defense Versus Packers’ Offense
The Falcons grew on defense as the season progressed, but they still have weaknesses, especially in the secondary. I thought that the NFC Championship game would be a shootout, but the Packers weren’t able to recover from injuries to their receiving corp. But this game should be different.
Unless the Packers pick up a training camp casualty, running back will be extremely light, putting tons of pressure on Rodgers to deliver through the air. He’ll probably end up picking on safety Keanu Neal, who’s a liability in the passing game.
This will be the shootout that should’ve happened in January. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons focus on stopping the pass given how deplorable the Packers’ run game should be, and they start to pull away later in the game (though I don’t see that happening).
But really, I think it goes back and forth, and the Packers pull this one out since they have a slightly better defense and Rodgers is patient enough to take advantage of the Falcons’ aggressiveness.
Falcons 37 – Packers 38
At Detroit Lions (Week Three)