The 2017 NFC Championship game is an outstanding matchup, with the two hottest quarterbacks in the NFL going into battle. Let’s get right into the Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons game with a handful of burning questions…
How does this game not become a shootout? Rodgers has been on fire for the last eight weeks, and Ryan has been hot all season long. Can either be stopped? I don’t think so; this game will probably come down to which team can get a turnover or two from these great quarterbacks. The over-under currently offered at an all-time high for an NFL playoff game at 60 or 60.5 points! That’s unheard of in a game of this magnitude, and it might be a little low!
To make this an even bigger shootout, remember that these two teams ranked 28th and 31st against the pass this season. The Falcons must key on the pass, the Packers do not have much of a running game, and Green Bay has one of the best pass-blocking lines in football. Expect Rodgers to throw the ball 40+ times in this game. The Falcons have a more diverse attack with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in the backfield and one of the strongest run-blocking offensive lines in football.
Who is the better coach? Mike McCarthy has the experience, but what comes along with that experience is not all positive. McCarthy is not a great game manager and only seems to get more conservative in the playoffs. With a hot Rodgers maybe he won’t play it as safe as usual this time.
On the other sideline, Dan Quinn is only in his second year as a head coach, but he has entirely changed the culture of the Falcons. Under previous coach Mike Smith, Atlanta was, in my, opinion, a soft football team. Dan Quinn does not coach soft football teams! Quinn has experience against Rodgers in big games: Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks when they won a classic overtime game a couple of seasons ago.
In short: Quinn will play to win this game, but if it’s close, will McCarthy?
How could the Falcons’ ability to run the ball affect the game? People forget that, with an excellent run-blocking OL and two stud RBs in Coleman and Freeman, the Falcons are more than just Matt Ryan. Could running the ball affect the game? I think it could: This offense can eat a little clock and maybe slow the game down. Not that the Falcons need to slow the game down, but it does make them much more diverse than the Packers. If Rodgers has a slightly off game, the Packers lose; if Ryan is a little off, he can hand the ball off and the Falcons can still score a lot of points.
You know the old saying in boxing that this is a matchup of a boxer against a puncher? Packers-Falcons is not that: This is a matchup between two punchers looking for that knockout shot. This will be a fun game to watch and a hard game to pick a winner…