NFC Championship game Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Really the only drama around this game is the fact that the Packers had to bus it 125 miles to Milwaukee because fog meant that they couldn’t fly out of Green Bay.  The delay meant that they were not due to arrive in Atlanta until 7pm on Saturday evening but as the game doesn’t kick off until 5 past 3 in the afternoon on Sunday the disruption should be minimal.

Aaron Rodgers has reached God-like Super Quarterback status in the last 8 weeks as he’s lead the Packers to 8 victories and guided them to the NFC North title despite suffering back to back losses of 18 or more points in November (a disappointing 25-47 on the road to Tennessee and an embarrassing 24-42 away to the Redskins 8 days later).  During these 8 weeks Rodgers has thrown 283 passes (over 35 per game), 21 of those passes have been for touchdowns, with just 1 interception in almost 2 months and Rodgers’ arm has been responsible for 77% of the Packers yards on Offence in that time.  Neither Defence really deserves to talked about because they’re not very good against the pass (Atlanta allowed 31 pass touchdowns + 267 yards per game and Green Bay 32 + 269 y.p.g), but even if they were Rodgers form has been so strong that’d he would make them look bad anyway.

Matt Ryan on the other hand has been in almost as phenomenal form as Rodgers, over his last 8 games he’s thrown 225 passes, of which 17 were for touchdowns and just 2 were interceptions.  Even more impressively than that is the fact that 72% of them, 163 in all have been caught!  The Falcons have one thing that the Packers don’t (well technically two things with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) they have a consistent running threat and that’s where I believe Ryan and the Falcons have an advantage this week.  Roughly 30% of the Falcons total yards this season have come on the ground and 34% of their Offensive touchdowns have come on the ground, when the two teams met earlier in the year Tevin Coleman wasn’t fit but Terron Ward averaged 7.7 yards per carry and Devonta Freeman scored twice, once on the ground and once on a short screen pass (even Matt Ryan made 9 yards on 2 carries).

The Falcons won 33-32 on the 30th of October and they are favourites to win again this week but it’s not as straight forward as it would appear.  Most of the numbers point towards the Packers being the best team and with Aaron Rodgers any team would have a very good chance of winning, it’s the potency of the players around that is in question, Jordy Nelson who racked up 94 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting will still be feeling his recently broken ribs.  Even if he pays he won’t be able to fully extend to catch passes and every time he’s tackled or hits the turf in the Georgia Dome (or breathes deeply or sneezes) he’ll feel like his abdomen has been set on fire, Geronimo Allison, Davante Adams and Jeff Janis have all appeared on the Packers Injury Report this week too and they combined for 125 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns last time out.  Allied to the fact that 4 linebackers have appeared o the same Injury Report I think it’s time for Rodgers heroics to end.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers string it out for as long as possible though and Overtime certainly isn’t out of the question, even with such a long list of injured or potentially restricted players the Packers will battle to the last and it would be typical of Rodgers to find Max McCaffrey in the end zone at some stage even if McCaffrey only joined the team yesterday.

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