Is it Monday yet? I’m usually chomping at the bit to see the Dirty Birds on the big stage but I’m not so pumped about this one.
This game is going to come down to coaching, which to put it nicely, is a popular topic in Atlanta right now. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the head coach, and Mike Smith certainly isn’t making it easy on himself, or Falcons fans confidence for that matter either. Let’s just face it, his seat has never been hotter and he is just one more bonehead play call or dumbfounding timeout from facing the wrath of Arthur Blank. No one is denying his success from 2008-2012, or his record as a whole compared to all other ATL head coaches, but the NFL is a “What have you done for me lately?” league, and the answer for Smith is not much. At this point, his future in Atlanta is becoming clearer by the week, no matter the fact that they are leading the division right now, which also happens to be the worst in the NFL. Put plainly, if Mr. Blank decides to embrace his mafia roots and roll some heads at the end of this season, not many fans would be surprised, or for that matter upset with the decision.
So before we get to the game, let’s talk about potential replacements. As with any HC search these days, all the big names are on the table. John Gruden is an always popular option, with proven success as a head coach and a Super Bowl ring. Can Arthur convince him to leave that cushy TV job and announcers booth? Who knows, but all I can say is bring on Chucky! Or what about Darrell Bevell? Since joining Seattle in 2011 as offensive coordinator, the Seahawks have shaped up quite nicely, building an extremely productive system around Russell Wilson. But is he ready for the entire job? Or maybe the oft-rumored Kevin Sumlin from Texas A&M could find a landing spot in the A. He would certainly be a breath of fresh air and probably establish a great culture as well. He’s young, energetic and seemingly ready to make a jump into the pros, but unfortunately Falcons fans, for now we’re stuck with the HC we’ve got, and need to focus on the task at hand…
So let’s be positive and talk about last Sunday briefly. Contrary to popular expectations, the Falcons came out ready to play, and stifled one of the most respected teams in the league that, coming into last week, was one of only three teams in the NFL with 9 wins on the season. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones did their best Maverick and Goose act but did more than just buzz the tower in a NO FLY ZONE, you know – what the Cardinals secondary is calling themselves these days, hooking up for 189 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta’s offensive line should’ve been awarded some type of medal for their efforts in the ATL run game, with Steven Jackson rushing for over 100 yards. That may not seem like much of a feat for most team, but considering it was the first time in over two calendar years that he had rushed for that many yards, forgive for for being a little
shocked impressed. (Coincidentally, the last time he rushed for 100 yards or more, was also against the Cardinals, when he was with St. Louis in November of 2012.) Unfortunately, as much as we all love seeing our duck calling, flip-flop wearing kicker, put it through the uprights, kicking five field goals doesn’t say much for red zone efficiency, which is something that Atlanta will desperately need at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are just good. Damn good. They have not lost at home this season and I’m sure they don’t intend to start on Monday. To give you just one example of their superiority, Aaron Roders has thrown 32 touchdowns these season, almost a third of which have been plucked out of the air by Jordy Nelson. Everyone’s favorite white-guy stereotyped fantasy wide receiver. Those two have a better chemistry than Franklin and Bash. Mario and Luigi. Rob Ryan and personal hygiene. Okay, those last two definitely don’t go together, but you get my point…
This matchup Monday takes place exactly one year to the day from their last meeting when the Pack squeaked out a win 22-21. And while this years matchup may seem a bit more troublesome for the birds, by the numbers, it’s not as lopsided as it looks. The Falcons have the 32nd overall ranked defense but the Packers aren’t a dominant force at 25th. Atlanta, the 9th ranked overall offense, comes in just behind Green Bay at 7th. As for charisma, I can’t even say that either of these team leaders really has an edge over the other to me. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are tied for dead last in the imaginary BORING personality rankings. Those ARod state farm commercials have just become painful to watch, stop trying to revive old SNL skits already, and Matty Ice couldn’t convince me to fly Airtran Airways if it was the last flight out to an all expense paid trip to an island resort, with endless hot wings served to me by a scantily clad Katy Perry and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Regardless, for this matchup the Falcons are going to need to focus on maintaining the momentum with the run game, as Green Bay comes in to this game ranked 28th in the league in rushing defense. If Devonta Freeman and Stephen Jackson can find some rhythm early against the GB front, Atlanta could have a shot to put some points on the board, and they’ll need all they can get to beat this team. (Too bad Antone Smith was placed on IR earlier this month…)
So kick back, relax and crack open an ice cold Matty Ice. Let’s shock the world Atlanta!! Or at least try to not get absolutely throttled on national TV…
Packers 31 Falcons 17