Falcons have rough task in Green Bay

Can Matt Ryan outplay Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay Monday night?

So can the Falcons beat the Packers Monday night? Okay, wait, stop laughing. It’s a serious question. I know it’s unlikely. I know the Packers are really good and the Falcons are 5-7. But really, could the Falcons pull the upset of the season and win in Green Bay?

Maybe.

How is that for going out on the limb?

Perhaps the Falcons will be inspired by the loss of the New Orleans Saints Sunday. Perhaps the Packers will be unconcerned about the Lions winning again and not be worried about getting into a tie for the NFC North lead.

Well, it was a good try, wasn’t it.

It is going to be a challenge. There is no doubt about that. The Packers have won four in a row. Their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is probably the top candidate for the league MVP award. He’s thrown 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

The Packers beat the Falcons this same week a year ago, but Rodgers did not play. He was injured and missed the game his team barely won over Atlanta. Can the Falcons defense stop Rodgers? Desmond Trufant is going to have to stick to Jordy Nelson, and like last week William Moore must play well for the Falcons to do anything well on defense.

The Falcons do have to feel good about themselves, however. They had a solid game last week against the Arizona Cardinals, and yes, they must feel good about the Saints losing Sunday.

But it’s going to have to be a perfect game for the Falcons to win. The Packers are going to have to make mistakes, and that’s something they do not do very often. Rodgers just seems to be in a zone right now, and the chances the Falcons defense can disrupt him enough to force turnovers seems unlikely.

In a way, the loss by the Saints takes some pressure off Atlanta, which might not be a good thing. If New Orleans had won Sunday, the Falcons could be facing second place with an expected loss in Green Bay. Now, if Atlanta loses, they will still technically be in first place since they beat New Orleans in week one.

And it will still come down to the game in New Orleans on December 21. It would be great if Atlanta could win to take control of the division, but perhaps the most important game now becomes the home game against Pittsburgh next week.

The Falcons are huge underdogs Monday. No one in the world believes they are going to win. Maybe that’s what they need – low expectations. Maybe since the pressure is off by New Orleans’ loss they can just go out and have fun and see what happens.

Matt Ryan is going to have to have a big day. Can Steven Jackson have a second-straight 100-yard game? That would help. It will also help if Roddy White can play despite his bad ankle. The Packers must take Atlanta seriously, since there is no doubt this team can score when given the shot. It may be too much to ask for Julio Jones to have another record-setting game, but that may be what is needed to win in Green Bay.

Yes, it is going to be a challenge. But the Falcons have won in Green Bay before when no one thought they would. Maybe lightning will strike twice again.


Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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