Packers Keys To Victory Versus the Falcons

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The Green Bay Packers continue their playoff road trip on Saturday at the Georgia Dome where they will take on the #1-seeded Atlanta Falcons in a NFC divisional match-up.

When these two teams met back in week 12, it didn’t go so well for the Green and Gold. Following a 40 yard kickoff-return from Eric Weems, Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan moved his team down the field to set up for the game-winning 47 yard field goal with nine seconds left.

Here’s what the Packers need to do if they want to avenge the loss and more importantly advance to the NFC Championship for a chance to play in the biggest game of them all, the Super Bowl.

By: Nick Grays


1.) Stop the Burner

LeSean McCoy struggled mightily against the Packers’ rush defense while rushing 12 times for a paltry 46 yards. The Packers 3-4 defense shuffled through a plethora of blitz schemes to confuse the Eagles offense who quite frankly figured out how to move the ball when it was too late.

The target this week is an entirely different monster when you consider the skill-set brought to the table by Michael “the Burner” Turner. In week 12, the defense had no answer for Turner who barreled for 110 yards including a crippling 26-yard scamper in the third quarter that eventually led to a rushing touchdown at the goal-line.

The key to stopping Turner is simple as fundamental tackling. While it sounds simple, defenders across the league will tell you how hard it really is to bring down Turner and his beastly frame. Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is well aware of Turner’s 23 broken tackles (4th in the league), so expect the Packers to emphasize tackling all week long.

2.) Ride the Matthews Wave

I don’t know if it’s a Wisconsin thing or what, but the 2010 Badgers and this season’s Packers team have two of the most motivated defenders in all of football. Similar to the Badgers award-winning DE J.J. Watt, LB Clay Matthews has provided the Packers defense with an entire new level of intensity.

Matthews also knows how to win awards while picking up The Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year Award on Thursday.

Matthews straight punked former USC teammate Winston Justice in Philadelphia last week. It was so bad that Andy Reid made sure Justice was sitting on the bench in the third quarter.

Expect much of the same against the Falcons as Matthews has posted a sack in each of his first two playoff games, joining former Packers LB Tony Bennett as the only to do so in franchise history.

3.) Distribute the Wealth

In the Packers 21-16 win over the Eagles, it wasn’t the superstars, but rather a couple of rookies who stole the headlines. James Starks came out of no where to rush for 123 yards while TE Tom Crabtree caught his first career touchdown in the first quarter to give the Packers a quick lead.

Once again, Aaron Rodgers will look to spread it around if the Packers want to be successful. Don’t sleep on Brandon Jackson who is still a big part of the Packers offense. Even though Starks was the man last week, I wouldn’t be so quick to designate him as Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s  primary running back.

I guess the point I’m trying to get to is how the Packers can go to any of these guys on a week-to-week basis. Expect a healthy dose of Starks/Jackson with a small dash of John Kuhn on short yardage situations.

If you thought the running game was diverse, the passing game is analogous in a scary way. For the first time in franchise history, Green Bay had four wide-receivers post at least 40 catches and racked up 500+ yards on those receptions.

Greg Jennings and Donald Driver receive all the hype while less heralded wide-outs James Jones and Jordy Nelson fly under the radar. Last time out against the Falcons, Jennings, Jones and Nelson each recorded five catches.

Preparing for the Packers offense has to be like prepping for a Calculus test after drinking an entire case of beer, where to start?

If the Packers can stay true to these three keys; Stop the Burner, Ride the Matthews Wave and Distribute the Wealth, they will surely have a chance to be on the right side of another upset.

What do you think, can the Packers knock off the favored Falcons? Let me know by commenting below!

Follow Nick Grays on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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