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7 things that have changed since the Falcons beat the Packers in Week 8


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Plenty has changed since the Falcons' Week 8 win 

After playing very different Divisional Round games, the Falcons and Packers will meet on Sunday for the NFC title. The Packers got to this point by blowing out the Giants and barely edging the Cowboys, while Atlanta toppled the Seahawks at home Saturday.

This won’t be the first time these two teams meet, of course. They squared off way back in Week 8 in what was a pivotal moment for both squads. The Falcons won that game 33-32 thanks to a touchdown pass by Matt Ryan in the final minute, sending the Packers to 4-3 and searching for answers after a slow start. Atlanta, on the other hand, moved to 5-3.

This time, all the chips are on the table and a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line. Here are seven things that have changed since that crucial Week 8 game.



Adrian Clayborn is out for the year 

The Falcons will be without one of their best pass rushers on Sunday after Adrian Clayborn suffered a season-ending biceps injury early in the Divisional Round. In their first meeting, Clayborn sacked Aaron Rodgers twice as the Falcons got to him three times.

Fortunately, Vic Beasley is still healthy and in the fold, so they’re not down their best pass rusher, but Clayborn’s absence will be a notable one.


Ty Montgomery missed the game due to an illness 

By now you know that Ty Montgomery has transitioned to full-time running back. He’s a key chess piece for the Packers and proved to be a major factor against the Cowboys with two touchdowns. Against the Falcons in Week 8, Montgomery didn’t touch the ball. He missed the game due to an illness, giving way to Aaron Rodgers as the team’s leading rusher (60 yards). Montgomery’s absence wasn’t as notable as his presence is right now, mainly because of how his role has changed.

Montgomery figures to get at least 10 touches in this game and will be a weapon for the Packers. Rodgers used him to reveal Dallas’ coverage, and he’ll likely do the same against the Falcons.


Desmond Trufant was healthy 

Cornerback Desmond Trufant entered 2016 with high expectations from both himself and the team. Though he got off to a good start, his season was cut short due to a pectoral injury. It occurred in Week 9 against the Buccaneers and required season-ending surgery, putting a damper on Atlanta’s much-improved secondary.  

The injury happened one week after the Falcons’ win over the Packers, and while it clearly hasn’t crushed their season, it will play a role on Sunday. Trufant has the ability to match up with No. 1 receivers while avoiding penalties the way Robert Alford accumulates them. His presence would have greatly helped the Falcons in this one.


Jared Cook is a weapon for Aaron Rodgers 

The game against the Falcons was one of six that Jared Cook missed earlier in the year. Since then, Cook has emerged as a real threat in the middle of the field, and not just because he made the biggest catch of Green Bay’s season last week. Cook is a matchup nightmare for defenses, showing exactly that against the Cowboys. Dallas boasts a tight end eliminator in Byron Jones, and Cook made several plays with him in coverage.

Cook will be a handful for Keanu Neal and the smaller Ricardo Allen, and he could be in for a big day against the Falcons.


Tevin Coleman didn’t play 

Falcons running back Tevin Coleman was one of a laundry list of players who were unable to go in this game, missing out due to a hamstring injury. He’s not so much a backup to Devonta Freeman as he is a complementary player with a similar skill set, and he’s a big reason the Falcons have had so much success on the ground this season. Coleman is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, as evidenced on his touchdown reception against the Seahawks.

Coleman is healthy and ready to go this time around, giving the Falcons a full bevy of weapons at their disposal. Look for him to catch a handful of passes out of the backfield, while also making the Packers look silly on stretch runs to the outside. Once he puts his foot in the ground, he’s at full speed moments later.


Jordy Nelson is injured and unlikely to play 

While both teams are healthier than they were in Week 8, there likely will be a notable absence for the Packers on Sunday. Jordy Nelson suffered multiple fractured ribs in the wild-card round against the Giants and is a long shot to play against the Falcons. It could be his second missed game in as many weeks, leaving Aaron Rodgers without his favorite target yet again.

Nelson hasn’t been ruled out yet, but considering the severity of the injury and the difficulty of playing through it, don’t plan on seeing him out there. That would give the Falcons’ secondary an advatange despite also being without their best playmaker on that side of the ball, Desmond Trufant.


Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers are both MVP candidates 

We all knew just how good Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan were going into Week 8. What we didn’t know, however, is that they’d be among the favorites to win the NFL MVP. At the time, Rodgers had a passer rating of 91.7 with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Ryan was having a great season with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions (113.6 passer rating), but we weren’t sure he’d be able sustain that success for the long haul.

Now, both quarterbacks are playing arguably the best football of their lives, combining for 48 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in their last nine games. That’s an absurd stat line and it shows just how good they’re playing right now.














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Falcons win for the following reasons:

(Falcons Offense vs Packers Defense)   vs (Packers offense vs Falcons Defense) 

1.  Falcon's Offense is very balanced and very deep with our 2 RB's and multiple big play receivers and good tight ends.  Our WR's block downfield and our o-Line maintains blocks for the RB's to get through the line.  The offense is battle tested and hardened.  We've gone up against and crushed the best defenses in the league (not including Houston) at the time we played them.  (Carolina week 2, Denver, Seattle)

2.  Packer's defense is not even close to the talented defenses our offense has faced and defeated.  Packers played Atlanta(1st), Redskins (3rd Lost) Dallas (5th Lost/Won), Indy (10th Lost),  Titans(11th Lost), Seattle (12th Won)

3.   Packers offense - Obviously their passing game is deadly.  However, they have key injuries so their offense is not deep and with a lack of a feature RB, they are not balanced.  They will rely on the pass and if Atlanta can build a 3 score lead, will become completely one dimensional allowing our d-line to start stunting to create pressure. 

4.  Falcon's Defense - We will miss Trufant this game, but our Defense is also battle tested and hardened by facing some of the best offenses in the league.  Saints(1), Oakland(6), Packers(8), Cardinals(9),  Seattle(12)San Diego(14). Our Defense has matured and if they play like they did last Saturday against Seattle, we will stop the Packers enough times to win the scoring battle.  

Looking at strength of schedule and past performance.  Atlanta shows they can win more when their defense is facing  top offenses.  At the same time, Packers show they lose more when facing top offenses.  

5.  Special teams - X Factor.  Falcons need to tighten kick coverage and block better when punting.  Based on Falcons performance on punt returns, kick coverage and punt coverage I have to give an advantage to Packers.  However, Matt Bryant is solid on field goals, so I give a slight advantage to Falcons.  

This game could come down to special teams... but i don't think it will.  

I think the Falcons come out and establish the run, throwing as needed with the mindset of wearing down their defense throughout the game and keeping the Packers offense on ice on the sideline.  

The game may remain close into the 4th qtr, but Falcons offensive machine continues to grind and build a 14 point lead.  Packers get the classic garbage TD in mid of 4th quarter, then kickoff to the Falcons deep.  Falcons take the ball on the 25yrd line and grind down the tired Packers defense and score again to go up 2 scores leaving the Packers with not enough time to catch up.  

Falcons 42 - 38

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Just now, red falcon said:

I hope this doesn't go the wrong way, but I'm not worried about our corners. Tru is good but I don't feel like it's a huge drop off.  

On ESPN today Bill Polian said the biggest mismatch on the field was their secondary against our receivers. We definitely have the advantage there. 

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Just now, red falcon said:

@fuego my biggest concern is clayborn being out. Reed had a good game but I feel he feasted on a lesser foe. If he does it this game he will make a believer out of me. 

Reed did very well when the Seattle OL just looked at each other and ran in opposite directions leaving a big gap. The Clayborn loss is huge. He was a one man wrecking crew vs. Rodgers the last time out. We need Whitehead, Hageman, and Babs to step up and help Beasley get after the QB. 

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Falcons have to go after that weak Packers secondary.  This will likely be one of those games where Ryan puts up 40+ attempts and likely throws for 400 yards or more.  Sticking the ball into the end zone for TD's rather than FG's will be huge. Packer's secondary isn't as 'good' as the Saints.  We need to score TD's on nearly every drive to keep the pressure on ARod and take a bit of pressure off of our defense.  If the defense can get three or more punts (or turnovers) from GB, that's a bonus that really helps us get the Super Bowl spot.

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Clayborn is out but Freeney is back. He was clearly hobbled by that quad last time around.

Eff Tye Montgomery. He's averaging what 3.4 yards a carry. I was more concerned with Thomas Rawls. And forget all that they're going to use him to reveal the coverage. Falcons don't even disguise their coverage.

And the Jared Cook point... Thats funny. Atlanta's dealt with tougher tight ends. Jared Cook is athletic but thinks he's a wide receiver. All finesse.

He's a bootleg Jimmy Graham.

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The entire DL is playing much better as a unit than they did half a season ago.   

Jacob Tamme went down in the 1st quarter of the last encounter.  Since then, the rookie TE have doubled their amount of game experience, and Big Tree is having his best season ever.

I doubt the offense will be called again for three illegal formation penalties.


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Coleman and Montgomery kinda cancel each other out. Similar numbers except Coleman scores a lot more. Of course if Coleman was the leading rusher the team would be in trouble. Freeman and Coleman make each other better and the Falcons offense insane.

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