6

December

Packers Periscope: Week 14 vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Past: While the last meeting between these two teams actually occurred in week 5 of the 2011 season (which the Packers won), most fans will remember the NFC divisional game in 2010 where Aaron Rodgers played perhaps the finest game of his career, going 31 for 36, 26 yards and 3 touchdowns, which even then doesn’t show the complete dominance of the performance.  Rodgers simply could not be brought down, often scrambling from surefire sacks, and could not be slowed down, throwing pinpoint darts to receivers who were blanket covered.

On defense, a pivotal interception returned for a touchdown by Tramon Williams at the end of the 1st half was the catalyst that sparked the Packers to dominate the second half.  With Rodgers putting up points with ease, the Falcons offense played to match the Packers point for point; however the Falcons offense buckled under the pressure, most notably with quarterback Matt Ryan making several poor decisions including 2 interceptions and a fumble which sealed the game.

During the offseason, the Packers and Falcons engaged in some more gamesmanship by bidding for the services of veteran running back Steven Jackson, who was a free agent for the first time after playing for the St. Louis Rams for nearly a decade.  In the end, Ted Thompson stuck with his draft and develop and frugal free agency philosophy and let Jackson sign with the Falcons.  However, Thompson perhaps got the last laugh as the Packers drafted Alabama star running back Eddie Lacy, who plays with some Steven Jacksons in him and is a candidate for rookie of the year honors while age and injury has finally caught up with Jackson, who has only started 8 games, rushing 97 times for a paltry 339 yards.

8

January

Packers To Face New York Giants Next Sunday in NFC Divisional Round

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

With a 24-2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card round Sunday, the New York Giants (10-7) ensured themselves a trip to Green Bay next weekend to take on the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round. The game will take place at 3:30 CST and be aired on FOX.

The New Orleans Saints, who defeated the Detroit Lions 45-28 on Saturday, will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the other Divisional matchup.

New York left no doubt who should be the team advancing in the NFC playoffs Sunday. They worked through a slow first half with a 7-2 lead, then poured in on the Falcons in the second half with 17 points, including two Eli Manning touchdown passes.

The Giants rushing attack, which ranked 32 in the NFL during the regular season, rushed for 172 yards on 31 carries and was a driving force for the offense all afternoon. Brandon Jacobs had 92 of those yards, and Ahmad Bradshaw tacked on another 63.

The Giants’ defense also had a standout day, limiting the Falcons to just 247 total yards and zero points. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked just twice but was generally under heavy pressure for most of the game, and Michael Turner ran for just 2.7 yards a carry. They did lose Deon Grant (groin) and Aaron Ross (concussion), two key players in their secondary, to injuries. That could be a big factor next Sunday if both are forced to miss.

Even so, New York will ride a three-game winning streak into Lambeau Field. This will be a confident bunch, and for good reason. The Giants are playing as well right now as they have all season.

Sunday’s meeting will mark the first playoff game between the Giants and Packers since New York knocked off Green Bay in the 2007 NFC Championship game. However, the Packers have beaten the Giants in two regular season games since then, winning 45-17 in December of 2010 and 38-35 earlier this season.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

5

January

Who Do We Want? Ranking The Green Bay Packers’ Potential Playoff Opponents

As the wise philosopher Homer Simpson once declared, “The waiting game sucks! Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!”

That’s the dilemma facing the Green Bay Packers this week as they wait out their first round bye and for their opponent in the divisional round to be determined.  While it’s doubtful the Packers are playing children’s board games in the locker room (well, maybe), we fans can play the wishing game and debate for hours on end who we want to see the Packers play in their first home playoff game since the 2007-2008 season.

(Be sure to cast your vote in the Poll at the end of this post)

The Packers can face one of three teams: the New York Giants, the Detroit Lions or the Atlanta Falcons.  Should Detroit upset the New Orleans Saints the Lions come to Lambeau.  Should the Saints hold on, the winner of Falcons/Giants would get the defending champions next.

So who would be the best matchup for the Packers? Honestly, an argument could be made for all three.  The Packers played (and beat) all three during the regular season, and defeated the Lions twice.  So familiarity with the opponent will be an advantage regardless.

I’ve decided to rank the three from the best matchup to the worst.  This is by no means a rock solid list.  I tossed all sorts of different variations in my head but I finally settled on the order below.

1.       Atlanta Falcons They’re number one for a couple reasons.  First, they are a dome team.  So are the Lions, yes, but at least Detroit’s climate is very similar to Green Bay’s.  Atlanta’s meanwhile, despite the occasional snow storm, is a much warmer climate. Even though they play indoors, they still don’t commute to work and live in this weather like the Packers, Lions and Giants do.

 A second reason is that for whatever reason, the Packers seem to have the Falcons’ number.  After beating the Packers at home during the 2010 regular season, the Falcons got spanked by the same team in the divisional round last year.  This year, again at the Georgia Dome, the Packers beat Atlanta again 25-14 after the Falcons blew a 14-3 lead.

11

October

Packers Week 6 Stock Report: Bishop and Jennings Rising, Hawk and Clifton’s Health Falling

Desmond Bishop joins the rising category this week.

Packers Week 6 Stock Report: The Green Bay Packers improved to 5-0 by beating the Atlanta Falcons 25-14 on Sunday night. The Packers overcame a 14-0 deficit and the loss of Chad Clifton to get the win.

Last season at this time, there’s no way the Packers win that game. But Aaron Rodgers is so good right now that the Packers are never out of a game.

It was tough finding candidates for the falling category this week. It was equally as tough limiting the rising category to three players.

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is the best player in the league right now. The Packers probably lose Sunday night if their quarterback is merely good. But Rodgers is great, and he played great once again on Sunday.

Desmond Bishop
Bishop keyed the defensive turnaround by slicing through a gap and bringing down Michael Turner early in the second quarter. From there, the Packers D controlled the game and looked like the defense from last season.

Greg Jennings
Jennings typically hovers between steady and rising, but there’s no doubt where he belongs after five games. He’s one of the best route runners in the game and he’s been making plays in every game this season.

Steady

Mason Crosby
Crosby is a perfect 9 for 9 on FG attempts, including a huge 57-yarder on Sunday. Can’t be much more steady than that.

Mike McCarthy
McCarthy should probably go in the rising category, but we’ll keep him here for now. I love how open-minded McCarthy has become. He’s allowed Capers to make any type of adjustments needed on defense and he’s constantly trying new things throughout the course of a game on offense.

BJ Raji
Not only did Raji continue his stellar play on Sunday, he let the Falcons have it during postgame interviews. Much respect to Raji for taking care of business on the field, then calling it like he sees it after the game.

Falling

AJ Hawk
For those of you that play video games, go fire up your old Sega Genesis and play a version of Madden from the mid 90s, then play the latest version of Madden for the PS3. You’ll notice that the old Madden is much…more…slower than the latest PS3 version. Unfortunately, Hawk is stuck in the old version of Madden. He looks slow, and there’s no explosion whatsoever when he tries to make a play on the ball.

9

October

Packers vs. Falcons – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: Packers 25, Falcons 14

Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesGreen Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons:

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons:

Here is my unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

The Packers steamrolled the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs last season. Much to the amusement of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Atlanta WR Roddy White has hinted that the Falcons were actually the better team. This one should be a lot of fun.

Inactive for the Packers today are:

CB Davon House, S Nick Collins, LB Frank Zombo, T Brian Bulaga, TE Andrew Quarless, DE Mike Neal, LB Vic So’oto.

Falcons DE John Abraham (hip) is out. That’s a significant loss for Atlanta.

Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

When I pulled up the 620 WTMJ streaming window, the Brewers postgame show was still going on. No summary of McCarthy’s pregame interview in this space tonight.

Packers vs. Falcons – First Impressions – First Half:

Hawk gets dragged three yards by Turner on the second play of the game. Hawk just doesn’t look explosive at all this season.

Turner’s lower body should have its own zip code. It’s massive.

I said in our predictions post that getting off the field on 3rd down is key to this game. Not a good start at all on that first drive. And where exactly was Woodson going on White’s TD catch?

Grant fumbles. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

Tacklers bouncing off Turner, the Falcons controlling the clock, the Packers turning the ball over during a nice drive…this looks an awful lot like last year’s regular season loss to the Falcons.

Hawk couldn’t even slow Turner down on the TD dive. There’s just no explosiveness there. He looks sluggish.

Clifton goes down with a hamstring injury. Not a good situation when both of your starting tackles are out.

I prefer Crabtree over Williams as the blocking back in passing situations.

Slocum needs to teach Cobb how to signal for a fair catch.

On the 3rd and 12 at the end of the half, I told my wife there’s no way Rodgers will stand in the pocket and look to the end zone. I thought it would be a dumpoff pass followed by a field goal. Of course, Rodgers stands in the pocket and hits Finley at the goal line. And Finley dropped the pass. Doh!

9

October

Packers vs. Falcons Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (4-0) face off with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons (2-2) in Week 5 of the NFL season on Sunday Night Football.

The basics 

When: 7:20 CDT; Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

Where: Georgia Dome; Atlanta, GA

TV: NBC; Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth with the call, Michelle Tafoya on the sidelines

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee), Packers Radio Network, Westwood One Radio, NFL Sunday Drive (Sirius Radio)

Series: Packers lead, 14-13 (Falcons won the last regular season game, 20-17, in Atlanta on Nov. 28, 2010)

Five things to watch

1. The beat goes on

For being defending Super Bowl champions and one of just two 4-0 teams left in the NFL, Packers fans sure find ways to look upon the team pessimistically. Yes, the defense has been shaky and needs to improve. But sit back and enjoy what you’re seeing on the offensive side of the ball, because it’s been one of the best starts to a season in Packers’ history. Where to start? The Packers are No. 1 in the NFL in scoring with 149 points (37.0/game), which is also the most points the team has ever scored through four games. They are on pace for a record 592 points. Sunday’s 49 points, coupled with the 42 points in Week 1, marked the first time in franchise history that the Packers have ever scored 40 or more points twice in the first four weeks. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is first in the NFL in passer rating (124.6) and completion percentage (73.0), and each would be NFL records if he continued that pace. He’s second in passing touchdowns (12) and yards per attempt (9.40). If Rodgers stayed on this pace through 16 games, he would throw for 5,300 yards and 48 touchdowns, which would shatter the franchise records of 4,458 (Lynn Dickey, 1983) and 39 (Brett Favre, 1996). That’s a lot of numbers to throw at you, but there needs to be an appreciation level for what the offense is doing in 2011. And just think; they face a defense on Sunday night that made just two additions (Ray Edwards, Kelvin Hayden) and have really struggled at times this season. The Packers offense has earned the spotlight of the entire league, and they’ll get another chance in primetime to show what kind of force they can be in 2011. (Stats courtesy of Packers.com)

8

October

Know Your Packers Enemy: Previewing Falcons-Packers With Dave Choate

In this week’s installment of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” I talked with Dave Choate of the widely respected Falcons blog, TheFalcoholic.com, to talk Packers-Falcons. He was referred to me by AtlantaFalcons.com writer Daniel Cox, who turned down the request in fear of sounding too biased. Both Dave (@TheFalcoholic) and Daniel (@FalconsDCox) are excellent follows for Falcons news.

Enough of the intro’s, let’s get to the Packers-Falcons talk.

ZACH KRUSE: Expectations were (and still should be) high as ever in Atlanta heading into the season, especially with such names as Peter King picking the Falcons to win Super Bowl XLVI in SI’s NFL preview. Packers fans know all about those kind of expectations, as last season Green Bay was the trendy pick to win it all. The Falcons haven’t exactly lived up to those high expectations yet in 2011, but remember, the Packers were just 3-3 after six games last season. Is there any sense of panic or lower feelings for this season being 2-2?

DAVE CHOATE: It’s happening quickly. There are many, many fans who have abandoned the Falcons playoff wagon entirely, leaving it a torched shell. Others barely think the Falcons will get a winning season at this point. That’s balanced out by a number of fans who think it’s all overblown. Personally, I haven’t wavered from my 11-5 prediction, and don’t plan to do so even if the Falcons lose to the Packers. It’s just too early.

ZK: Both Matt Ryan and Mike Smith have stated that Sunday night’s game has nothing to do with revenge. Are you on that same page? Is this just another Week 5 game, or does this one carry any added importance?

DC: I think it only carries added importance because the Packers are 4-0 and one of the best teams in the NFC. Every team should want to prove they can beat a team like that.

ZK: Let’s talk about Michael Turner. Everyone always talks about Ryan and Roddy White, but Turner, in my opinion, is the engine that makes this offense go. And wouldn’t you know it, the Falcons are 2-0 when Turner carries the ball 20 times or more this season. What does he mean in a more specific way to the offense, and has there been any drop off in the running game that you’ve seen this season after losing Harvey Dahl to the Rams?