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QB battle between Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers headlines NFC title tilt


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Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

The Atlanta Falcons' last game at the Georgia Dome is sure to be a memorable one.

After taking care of the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional playoff, the No. 2-seed Falcons will host the No. 4-seed Green Bay Packers in next Sunday's NFC Championship game (3:05 p.m. ET, FOX). The Packers upset the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys to set up a heavyweight battle between MVP frontrunner Matt Ryan and two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers for a chance to go to Houston for this year's Super Bowl.

Ryan and Rodgers' last postseason matchup was in the 2010 divisional playoff. Rodgers guided the Packers to a 48-21 win in Atlanta, and Green Bay went on to win the Super Bowl.

The Falcons and Packers met in Week 8 of the regular season, a 33-32 win by the Falcons. Ryan completed 28 of 35 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions, including a game-deciding, 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu. Rodgers completed 28 of 38 passes for 246 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Packers played without a host of key players in the last matchup: wide receiver Randall Cobb, linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery, tight end Jared Cook and cornerback Damarious Randall.

Several key injuries might play a major factor for both teams next week. The Packers played without top receiver Jordy Nelson against the Cowboys while he recovered from a rib injury sustained in the wild-card win over the New York Giants. His status for the NFC Championship Game is not yet known. The Packers then lost safety Morgan Burnett against the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Falcons await word on top wide receiver Julio Jones, who aggravated a toe injury and missed the final moments of the win against the Seahawks. Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed optimistic about Jones' status, but it's something to monitor. The Packers double-teamed Jones on virtually every play in the regular-season matchup, limiting him to three catches for 29 yards on five targets.

The Falcons, who lost Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant to season-ending pectoral surgery, also saw pass-rusher Adrian Clayborn go down with a biceps tear against the Seahawks. Clayborn's injury means more emphasis on NFL sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. and veteran Dwight Freeney to put pressure on Rodgers.

Rodgers has the Packers on an eight-game win streak, while Ryan has the Falcons on a five-game win streak. The Falcons were the league’s top-scoring team, at 33.8 points per game.

The Falcons move into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next season.


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