One of the biggest fallacies about today’s Packers-Falcons game is that if Packers shut down, or even keep in check, Atlanta’s all-world wide receiver Julio Jones, they’ll prevail.
While Jones is an exceptional player and a game-breaker, the Falcons’ high-powered offense can still rack up numbers, not to mention wins, without him being their go-to player.
To wit: Jones had just two catches for 29 yards against the Denver Broncos and the Falcons still won 23-16. And the New Orleans Saints did have even better job of locking up Jones. They limited him to a mere catch for 16 yards. He was a non-factor. The Falcons still won 45-32.
The fact of the matter is the Falcons’ offense is diverse. They can score in a myriad of ways. They are averaging a whopping 32.7 points per game – first in the NFL. They are averaging 433.6 yards in total offense – first in the NFL. And they are averaging 319 passing yards per game – first in the NFL.
While Jones is the Falcons’ most giftedand dangerous player, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has been sensational and having a MVP type season: He has completed 68 percent of his passes; he has thrown for 16 touchdowns but picked off just four times, and his passer rating is an off-the-charts 113.6.
Even the Falcons’ complementary players are playing at a high level: Mohamed Sanu has 23 catches while Jacob Tamme has 20 grabs. Devonta Freeman is emerging as arguably the most complete running back in the game. He leads the team in rushing with 508 yards and he’s third on the team in receptions with 22.
Even with a full complement of players, the Packers would have their hands full today against the Falcons. But the Packers aren’t remotely close to being fully healthy, especially with their top three cornerbacks all injured.
Unless Aaron Rodgers has a magical day, it’s hard to imagine the Packers upending the Falcons.
Prediction: Falcons 30, Packers 24.