Week 14 Preview: Falcons at Packers

We have team notes and stats as we take our final look at Monday's game between division leaders.

ATLANTA (5-7) at GREEN BAY (9-3)

KICKOFF: Monday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

OPENING LINE: Packers by 12 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD: Atlanta 6-6, Green Bay 6-5-1

SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 16-13.

LAST MEETING: Packers beat Falcons 22-21, Dec. 8, 2013

LAST WEEK: Falcons beat Cardinals 29-18; Packers beat Patriots 26-21

AP PRO32 RANKING: Falcons No. 22, Packers No. 1

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Teams meeting on Monday night for first time since Atlanta's 28-21 win on Nov. 22, 1971. ... Falcons have won three of four to get into tie for NFC South lead with New Orleans. ... QB Matt Ryan has 67.5 completion percentage since arrival of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in 2012, third in NFL in span behind Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. ... WR Julio Jones needs 30 yards to surpass his career-best receiving season, 1,198 in 2012. ... Ryan and Jones have connected on touchdowns of at least 20 yards in each of last two games. ... WR Roddy White first in league since 2005 with converting 198 third-down catches into first downs. ... Atlanta has 11 takeaways in last four games and ranks third in NFL with 24 this season. ... S Kemal Ishmael has interceptions in three straight games. ... WR Devin Hester leads league in punt return average (15.4 yards). ... Packers lead league scoring 20.4 points per game before halftime and 30 first-half touchdowns. ... QB Aaron Rodgers making 100th career start. ... Rodgers has NFL-record 360 straight passes at home without throwing interception. Last threw pick at Lambeau Field against Minnesota on Dec. 2, 2012. ... WR Randall Cobb's eight touchdown catches in red zone tied for second in league behind Denver's Julius Thomas. ... WR Davante Adams' 121 yards receiving last week against Patriots are most by Packers rookie since WR Sterling Sharpe had 124 on Nov. 20, 1988 against Detroit. ... Packers have converted 15 turnovers into touchdowns, tied for first in league with Houston with 96 points off takeaways. ... K Mason Crosby eclipsed 1,000 career points last week.


ROLLING RODGERS: The star quarterback is having an MVP-caliber year, dissecting defenses with his trademark pinpoint passes and ability to extend plays. Rodgers has thrown an NFL record 360 passes at home without an interception, having last been picked off at Lambeau on Dec. 2, 2012.

"It's a big difference covering for 5 seconds and 10 to 12 seconds (against Rodgers). Receivers can run anywhere," Atlanta cornerback Desmond Trufant said.

TURNING OVER: Maybe Rodgers will meet his match in the Atlanta defense, which has the league's worst unit statistically but leads the NFC with 24 takeaways, including 14 interceptions. Nine picks have come during the recent 3-1 stretch.

"Turnovers are way more important to me. It's proven when you win the turnover battle you come out with the win, probably," safety William Moore said.

TAKEAWAYS TIMES TWO: The only problem for the Falcons is that they are facing the team that leads the league in turnover margin at plus-15. That is partly due to Rodgers, who has 32 touchdown passes to three interceptions. But the Packers' defense has been productive as well with 23 takeaways.

SECONDARY LOOK: Starting cornerback Sam Shields' availability for the Packers was in question at midweek because he is recovering from a concussion sustained in the Patriots game. At first glance, that could prove problematic given that Roddy White is expected back from an ankle injury at receiver for Atlanta to join Julio Jones and Harry Douglas.

The Packers, though, are relatively deep in the secondary. Coach Mike McCarthy likes how backup cornerbacks Davon House and Casey Hayward have performed, while young free safeties Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are often on the field together when the Packers go with five defensive backs.

FINDING CLAY: The Packers have been giving opposing offenses something extra to think about since using Clay Matthews more at inside linebacker instead of solely at his traditional role rushing the passer outside. The move seems to have helped against the run, while getting more snaps for Nick Perry and Mike Neal to rush the passer opposite Julius Peppers. Smith said it gives Green Bay flexibility to find advantageous matchups in rushing the quarterback.


Turnover Margin (+15)1 1
Points Scored (31.7)1 2
Points Allowed (22.3)6 15
Total Offense (377.9)3 7
Rushing (108.9)8 19
Passing (269.0)4 8
Total Defense (366.8)12 25
vs. Rush (132.3)15 28
vs. Pass (234.5)4 11
Third-Down Offense (46.9%)3 4
Third-Down Defense (42.9%)10t 20t
Red-Zone Offense (58.3%)6 10t
Red-Zone Defense (51.3%)3t 9t
Passing: Rodgers (118.6)1 1
Rushing: Lacy (770)6 10
Receptions: Nelson (70)5 10
Rec. Yds.: Nelson (1,119)3 7
Interceptions: Hayward (3)7t 12t
Sacks: Peppers (5.0)19t 36t

Turnover Margin (+6)4 7t
Points Scored (24.3)6 12
Points Allowed (24.9)10 22
Total Offense (374.0)5 9
Rushing (97.2)12 25
Passing (276.8)3 6
Total Defense (403.2)16 32
vs. Rush (118.3)11 20
vs. Pass (284.9)16 32
Third-Down Offense (43.3%)6 12
Third-Down Defense (45.5%)14 28
Red-Zone Offense (61.3%)4 8
Red-Zone Defense (54.8%)8 18
Passing: Ryan (93.7)6 12
Rushing: Jackson (602)11 18
Receptions: Jones (82)1 3t
Rec. Yds.: Jones (1,169)1 3
Interceptions: Ishmael (4)1t 3t
Sacks: Biermann/Umenyiora (2.5)57t 109t

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