BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Packers are confident

A Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

A Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – I’ve been in constant contact this week with my old posse, Bob McGinn and Tom Silverstein, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, left, and safety William Moore, right, tackle Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes, left, and safety William Moore, right, tackle Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

We did it real big covering the Packers together in the 1990s. We made sure Brett Favre didn’t break curfew and were in New Orleans for  Mike Holmgren and Reggie White’s Super Bowl title. We fought through Ray Rhodes’s one season together.  I left shortly after the start of the Mike Sherman era of under-achievement.

Our editors have even been exchanging copy. We ran a few stories from my old pal Lori Nickel (we won an award together for best feature story on Milwaukee native Latrell Sprewell, after he choked P.J. Carlisemo. He was the Citizen of Year as voted on by the coaches in High School. What happened?)

But y’all want to read about the game. Enough with my walk down memory lane.

The Packers will board a plane later today as a confident little bunch. The Packers are going to feel at home when they see the snow remnants. If they stop at a  QuikTrip and see that they are now selling Johnsonville Brats, they will really feel at home.

McGinn, through the writer’s notes exchange, shared some intel on the mood of the squad. (If you’re a real football fan,Super Bowl Book I’m sure you already have his book: The Ultimate Super Bowl Book: A Complete Reference to the Stats, Stars, and Stories Behind Football’s Biggest Game – and Why the Best Team Won.)

While the Falcons are 2-point favorites, the Packers think “2″ is just a number.

“We know we’re a good team,” defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. “We’re right where we want to be now. It doesn’t matter where we’re ranked. If we keep winning, our goal is right in front of us.”

From 2000-’04, the No. 1 seeds were 9-1 at the divisional level. In the last five years, the No. 1 seeds were 5-5.

“They’re rested,” said safety Charlie Peprah, who was cut by the Falcons and starts for the Packers. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. It will be another close one. We’re two evenly matched teams.”

McGinn noted that Packers dropped six games by a total of 20 points and that they outgained the Falcons by 124 yards on Nov. 28.

Green Bay running back James Starks might get to meet a healthy Curtis Lofton on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Green Bay running back James Starks might get to meet a healthy Curtis Lofton on Saturday. (Associated Press)

“They’re very disciplined and very efficient at what they do,” linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “Both sides of the ball.”

The Pack clearly doesn’t think too much of the Falcons

“They don’t have the fastest or the strongest,” Bishop said. “They’re tough, disciplined and effective. That’s what wins. That’s who they are. We have to exceed everything they do. It’ll be tough.”

In his film review, McGinn counted 12 missed tackles as Michael Turner powered for 110 yards on 23 carries.

“We tackled horrible,” nose tackle B.J. Raji said. “That running back is as tough as they come. Their quarterback (Matt Ryan) makes great decisions. They don’t have turnovers, which goes back to the quarterback and Turner holding on to the ball.”

falcons.1129

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes levels Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings as he catches a pass from Aaron Rodgers during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Statistically, the Falcons are a middle of the pack team. They finished 16th overall in both offense and defense. However, they were the only team in the league to finish in the top five in points and points allowed.

Again, the Packers are not impressed.

“We’re the underdogs,” said Jenkins. “We don’t have that much respect. It’s partially our fault. We didn’t finish games.”

The Falcons slapped the Packers around inside the five, twice. They got a fumble and forced a field goal.

“They played very physical and we did not play good situational football or third down or red zone,” fullback John Kuhn said. “In the playoffs, we’ve got to win third down, penalties, turnovers, red zone. That will be key next week.”

Again, the Packers are a confident bunch. Even the kid who dropped the touchdown pass last week against Philadelphia is confident.

“We feel like we can beat anyone anywhere,”  wide receiver James Jones said. “We’ve got confidence.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

106 comments Add your comment

deez nuts

January 14th, 2011
1:06 pm

Kurt

January 14th, 2011
1:06 pm

Can’t wait!!!

Greg Mendel

January 14th, 2011
1:08 pm

Dennis Ervin

January 14th, 2011
1:15 pm

Hi Orlando -

Thought I’d fire up your paper to see what’s on-going
down south in the land of the Falcons.

Didn’t know you were there…glad you are doing well.

My college roomate has been sending me pictures
of your latest snowfall…amazing.

Anyone down there need my former Zamboni
driving services?

Take care of yourself!

Dennis Ervin, former Director
THE MAYFAIR MALL ICE CHALET
(1973 – 1986)
*Good friend of Gary D’Amato*

COOLJD2

January 14th, 2011
1:18 pm

Gregg Jennings said that their the underdog. He hasn’t been watching or listening to the national media where almost every expert is jumping on Green Bay’s you know what.ATL is the underdog. We are only a 2.5 favorite. Everyone remember when the experts said there no way Seattle will win against the Saints and look what happen.History is due to repeat it’s self.Let’s show everyone why we are the 1 seed. GO FALCONS RISE UP !!!!!!!

smarter1

January 14th, 2011
1:25 pm

What is all this RISE UP crap??? do they really need to say that to get falcons & their fans inspired? Thats Pathetic.

Greg Mendel

January 14th, 2011
1:27 pm

When I hear all the talk about the Falcons and Matt Ryan being boring, it reminds me of an observation I heard when I coached soccer: if your goalie repeatedly makes spectacular saves, he’s not setting up correctly. He’s vulnerable.

I hope the Falcons simply grind out another win.

COOLJD2

January 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

Hey idiot1 Rise Up is our campaign.Second I think it’s a courtesy that they can just ask nicely for the fan support even we will be there.

T Money

January 14th, 2011
1:42 pm

Ledbetter your columns leave me scratching my head. Your statement that the Packers don’t think much of the Falcons is a joke. You clearly go on to say that the Packers say “They’re tough, disciplined and effective. That’s what wins. That’s who they are. We have to exceed everything they do. It’ll be tough.”You say thats not respecting us?
Go back to cheesehead land your columns are senseless. In addition what do you expect them to say that they don’t feel that they can win. Losen up your bowtie as it’s cutting off the circulation to the brain dude.

T Money

January 14th, 2011
1:55 pm

Who says we are the underdogs? Vegas has us on top and many other publications. So what about ESPN?

NFL Fanhouse…7 writers for the Birds and 4 for the Puckers
http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2011/01/14/nfl-divisional-round-fanhouses-experts-make-their-picks/

Falconfever

January 14th, 2011
2:07 pm

Ledbetter, Where does you allegiance lie now? Do you bleed red and black with the rest of the Falcon nation or will you secretly be wearing a cheesehead??

COOLJD2

January 14th, 2011
2:07 pm

T Money I get what your saying about the margin with the 2.5 favorite, but hearing the media talking about rogers 24/7 and them saying that they like GB a hot team right now over the #1 seed and we had a bye week, you had to admit they are not that high on us. Go to espn and 7 of the 10 picks go to the packs.

Zoomie

January 14th, 2011
2:08 pm

“What is all this RISE UP crap??? do they really need to say that to get falcons & their fans inspired? Thats Pathetic.”

Yet, still not quite as pathetic as ambivalent blog trolls . . .

Regius

January 14th, 2011
2:08 pm

A good team must be confident. If they aren’t then they might as well not play. You are a confusing reporter. All the comments you make lack any substance that the Packer do not respect the Falcons. The Pack is not the NY Jets. That team talks some crap. The Packers organization is professional and truly is Americas team and most of the country would like to see them win.

egpackfan

January 14th, 2011
2:47 pm

Great to read your work again after all these years . . .

GB 27, ATL 24
GO PACK GO!!!

SKYROCK

January 14th, 2011
2:56 pm

Packer fans are stressed & worried about this week end!!! Get use to the picture up top because thats what you all will look like at games end! GO FALCONS!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 14th, 2011
3:01 pm

Dennis — Thanks for stopping by. I saw Gary when the Pack came down in Nov. Hope that all is going well with you too. The Snow is about gone. Now we are dealing with the Ice.

T Money

January 14th, 2011
3:13 pm

Regius I agree that they have alot of fans around the country but America’s team? Hey both teams have great organizations who do not want their players spouting off about how great they are. Leave that to the classless Jets. Can’t stand them or their coach.

I’ve got nothing against the Packers and do think they have a good (not great) team

Let’s say both teams do respect each other and may the best team win.
All this garbage is being said by the writers (Orlando) and TV people just to stir things up. Hey whoever plays their “A” game will win on Sat.

Go Falcons!!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 14th, 2011
3:15 pm

T. Money – Good points. Just want to incite a cyber riot.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 14th, 2011
3:16 pm

Falconfever — I’m officially an objective observer.

T Money

January 14th, 2011
3:22 pm

D. Orlando….Good come back, I like you better already!

NikkiFree

January 14th, 2011
3:26 pm

Enter your comments hereSeriuosly?! Are the Packers’ players trying to play the “no respect” card? Can I vomit now?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 14th, 2011
3:37 pm

Falconfever – The Packers don’t have cheerleaders. And if they did, they couldn’t possibly be as nice as the Falcons’ cheerleaders. What kind of football operation doesn’t have cheerleaders???

T Money

January 14th, 2011
3:43 pm

Orlando do want the Packer cheerleaders ( if they had them) to wear eskimo parkas. It’s too cold up nort dare guy. They would freeze their pom pom’s off.

Blue Fender

January 14th, 2011
3:49 pm

“What kind of football operation doesn’t have cheerleaders???”

–Lame ones.

Chop Buster

January 14th, 2011
4:28 pm

Sounds like it’s time to really bust them in the mouth. We missed on a lot of tackles and sacks last time–won’t be the same game second time around. They can be as confident as they want–but so are we!!! GO FALCONS…RISE UP!!!

Regius

January 14th, 2011
4:33 pm

T Money- You hit it on the nail. This will be a very close game and hopefully well coached.

Sorry…Go Pack !!

DanCPackerfaninATL

January 14th, 2011
5:45 pm

I have to agree with others – Orlando is attempting to spin what the Packer’s players have said into something resembling trash talking. He says “the Packers don’t respect the Falcons” but not one of the Packer’s quotes shows any disrespect. Quite the opposite. You say “the Packers are not impressed”. Again, the Packer’s quotes show they respect the Falcons and know this game will be tough. Packer players and coachs don’t talk trash (like the Jets). They are a classy bunch. I don’t think spinning their comments into trash talking works or makes any sense. I suppose Orlando is attempting to motivate the players. Maybe one of them will cut out his article and put it on the team’s wall in the locker room or something. I don’t think so. This is going to be a dog fight between two very good teams. Don’t let the 10-6 regular season record for the Packers fool you. They are good. They have never been behind by more than 7 in ANY game at any point. That is impressive. They are always in it. I’ll be in the stands rooting for the Green and Gold.

kaminari

January 14th, 2011
5:57 pm

If the Packers are so great, why are they the 6th seed? Cause of losing games late, making mistakes, not enough depth to account for injury due to unfortunate things, but also likely poor conditioning.

Again, the Packers are a 6-seed for a reason. The Falcons are well-rested and confident (and now have a huge chip on their shoulder — thanks media). Should be a great game.

justfalconbaby

January 14th, 2011
6:46 pm

2 years ago we beat them there. This year we beat them here. If Roddy does not get a 15 yard penalty on the first drive and the refs call the delay of game on the Packers last drive the margin of victory would have been even larger. Everyone loves the Pack because they are NFL old money. We are new money to most of the NFL. They do not have to like us but they can not deny us. Falcons 27-13. Rise Up

Dogan G.

January 14th, 2011
7:03 pm

GreenBay is a 6th seed because of all the season ending injuries they have sustained! they have plugged the holes with their deep depth. Everyone excpects a close game. Here is the truth: Pack gets up early and wins going away! Packers 34 Atlanta 24 maybe next year Atlanta can get revenge when and if they are good enough to get up to GreenBay! GreenBay will be unstoppable next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dogan G.

January 14th, 2011
7:06 pm

Whos Atlanta’s back up quarterback? yeah….. that might be a problem for you guys once the “beast” (c. matthews) gets a hold of young Ryan!! OUCH!!!!!

SG

January 14th, 2011
7:23 pm

@Dogan G.

The Falcons have to decent backup QB’s, Chris Redman(louisville) and John Parker Wilson(Alabama).

DD

January 14th, 2011
7:47 pm

Atlanta must come out throwing the ball just like the last game against NC…stop that running the ball BS until you get 21 points or more.
Use Tony G as the go to man. Play fearless, like chain gang dudes that if they win…they go free

DD

January 14th, 2011
7:51 pm

Atlanta must be agressive as heck. Throw the ball. Confuse them. REMEMBER , you are @ home. The crowd must be lit up. I wish I had coached them. Missed opportunity.

Business Man

January 14th, 2011
8:01 pm

Who cares about all of this crap? The team that plays the best game will win. The talk means nothing. By the way, if you have ever been to Wisconsin in the summer, you know why the Pack does not have cheerleaders. I am a Falcons fan and this Rise Up stuff has to stop, it is lame.

Gambling Man

January 14th, 2011
8:02 pm

The Falcons are favored and everyone person in American out side of Atlanta is picking GB, If I have learned one thing from gambling it is that a SURE bet (like picking GB) is usually a LOSING bet. I really feel the reason Vegas has not moved the spread to GBs favor is because Vegas thinks the Falcons are going to win. Vegas insider is reporting that 80% of the money bet on this game has been put on GB and Vegas was not built on losers.

Gambling Man

January 14th, 2011
8:03 pm

Them losing that is…

Kevin

January 14th, 2011
8:18 pm

This game will come down to two categories, turnovers and penalties. Whichever team is on the winning side of those 2 categories is gonna win.

I do not believe this game will be close at all. One time will have a dominant win, and chances are they will be wearing green and gold.

Savage57

January 14th, 2011
8:32 pm

Favorites, schmavorites. It’s the playoffs boys and girls, so you can throw out the history books and the stat sheets – they mean nothing, The team that is hungriest and plays with the most ‘tude is going to win this game – period. Falcons have something to prove to the world and so do the Packers. Would like to see the game go to double overtime and let the team that can still manage to field 11 players on one side of the ball win the game. That would be an epic battle and one that would be worthy of the two teams that are playing.

I have nowhere near enough hubris to even try and predict a final score.

gonzotx

January 14th, 2011
8:34 pm

Go Pack Go!!! From Texas with love for the Green and Gold

FrontRow

January 14th, 2011
8:46 pm

OVER-confident. As in Saints vs. Seahawks overconfident.

Iceheads vs Cheeseheads

January 14th, 2011
9:16 pm

Go FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kennesaw Falcon

January 14th, 2011
9:31 pm

Blah-Blah-Blah. The better team will win tomorrow night That WILL be the BIRDS. End of story.

Packerfan

January 14th, 2011
9:32 pm

The Pack learned more from losing to the Falcons than the Falcons learned by winning.

chipontheroad birdsrus

January 14th, 2011
9:59 pm

cheese and crackers crackers win

WestOfAthens

January 14th, 2011
10:21 pm

Confidence is as confidence does…..sure, the Pack is everbody’s pick (we all love the upset drama), yet it helps to sweeten the win.

Tomorrow is a fine day to be a sports fan: Ravens/Steelers – Dawgs/Rebels – Falcons/Packers, woooooweeeee, anybody have any ice i can add to this fire?

Ooooops, i need only retreat to the street and start scraping……

JASon

January 14th, 2011
11:47 pm

Thanks for providing an advertisement for Johnsonville Brats. We all really need more product placement in our lives.

Falcon for Life

January 14th, 2011
11:51 pm

I am nervous, but I think we will win. We are at home and we are going to play a solid game. Our lines will win this game.

Greg Brose

January 15th, 2011
12:20 am

T Money”up nort dare guy”…..I am laughing my @#$ off.