Well, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Falcons Fan Family, it is finally upon us. The biggest game of the year awaits against a foe the Falcons have played (and beat) in the Green Bay Packers. Now that the Eagles are out, expect to hear about the “most dangerous team” since Lombardi walked up and down the sidelines in Green Bay. The Falcons should have all the advantages since they’ve had a week off to rest, home-field advantage, and playing an opponent who will be playing their 2nd road game in 6 days and coming off a big emotional win in Philadelphia. Many questions come to mind as the Packers come to town. How will the Falcons come out of the gate? Who has improved more since they met back in November? What will the home crowd be like on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome? Is there a fear in the back of many Falcons fans heads? This is setting up as one of the biggest home games in the Atlanta Falcons history. Will they Rise Up?
The theory of course goes that the team that has the bye will be much better prepared and rested as they get ready to host the playoff game. That should be true, but another argument is that a wild-card team may be playing better since they’ve been playing for their playoff lives for quite some time now. Even though the Falcons had to beat the Panthers at home to wrap up the division and home-field advantage, they knew quite some time ago that they had the inside track compared to other teams. The Falcon have had an extra week to heal and prepare, but that means they will have gone almost a full two weeks without playing. Backed by a home crowd going crazy (let’s hope) and knowing the opportunity in front of them, will they come out scorching hot and light up the tired Packers? Or will they come out somewhat flat and be playing against the “most dangerous team in the history of the NFL? This is what it’s all about.
Since the Green Bay Packers are all of a sudden “balanced” on offense after one game of running the football well, will the defensive gameplan be the same as it was last time? The Falcons did a superb job of keeping Aaron Rodgers to a minimum by often rushing only 3 to 4 lineman and dropping 7 to 8 defensive backs into coverage. It will be interesting to see since the Packers may have found an answer in the running game with James Starks, a 6th round drafted rookie from Buffalo, who ran for 123 yards against the Eagles. Another concern is brought to mind to where the Falcons struggled a little too much defending the run. Will Brian Van Gorder and Coach Smith dial up the pressure on Rodgers as they did against Drew Brees to pretty good success, or will they drop and play zone and simply try to take Starks out of the run game. Anytime two teams meet for a second time in a year, you can bet that there will be new wrinkles and designs to the gameplan. What should the Falcons do with Aaron Rodgers and their newfound balance?
The Atlanta Falcons are one of the most balanced football teams in the NFL, and they have actually done it more than one game, but they have been having a little more trouble running the ball the last two games. The goal on offense most certainly will be to run the rock, control the clock, and keep #12 on the sidelines, but just because they want to run the ball won’t mean that they can. Not counting the Panthers game since they jumped on them so early, the Falcons absolutely could not run on the New Orleans Saints. The lack of a speed back to complement Turner and Snelling has become painfully evident lately since most teams are dead set on stopping the interior run game. The Birds beat the Ravens when Turner ran for 39 yards, but all three other times when Turner hasn’t run for more than 50 yards they have lost (PIT – 42, PHI – 45, NO – 48). Will the Falcons come out and sling the ball around in a hurry up or spread type offense? Not likely since they want to keep Rodgers on the sidelines as much as possible, but it certainly has proven to be effective and even can win games if Matt Ryan needs to. Will they go with the obvious run first and always or will they mix it up and come out slinging the ball around?
Since this is the biggest home game in the Falcons history in the Georgia Dome, can fans do their part to make the Dome a terrible place to play? Domes are usually always louder than open air stadiums and that certainly played a major part in the Saints reaching the Super Bowl last year. Falcon fans have played a big part in some of the Birds biggest home victories of the season, including the Ravens and Packers. The Falcons organization and football team lucked out in getting the late Saturday game where the fans should be good and revved up for the huge game. The playoff tickets went quick and hopefully that’s a good sign that the Dome will be maxed out with red and black. Can the home crowd be committed to making it loud and hard for the Packers for the whole game? The fans have certainly done their part and played a role in the Falcons success at home under Coach Mike Smith. The question is if the fans can make this the loudest game in Birds history at the Georgia Dome. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers proved they could go into a hostile stadium and win in Philadelphia, so it may not make a huge difference. But the fans should make sure that they give their all in the reward the Falcons achieved with their awesome 13-3 season. Will the Falcons fans “Rise Up” and be a true 12th man?
We all know exactly how this game will be framed (and already is so) by the talking-ditto-media “experts.” The first game it was how in the world would the Falcons paltry defense contain one of the best and most red-hot offenses in history (remember the 80 points in 3 games stat) and that the Packers would win the first one walking away. Now the tagline is that the Green Bay Packers are not only red-hot, but they’re the team that no one wants to play, and they’re even throwing in the fact that they are completely balanced and have one of the best running games in the NFL. Their defense is stuff of legend with having Jack Tatum, Mean Joe Green, and Mike Singletary lining up on that side of the ball. With them being the 2nd favorite darlings to the previous favorite darlings, they now take over the “most dangerous team in NFL history” and one that no one wants to play. Should the Falcons just forfeit? Fans should just sell their tickets because the Packers will win this one in the 1st quarter, right? Listening to pretty much all the media experts and ditto heads, its as if they don’t even want to acknowledge that the Falcons are even in the playoffs and certainly that they’re not the #1 seed and a good team. Over in the AFC, its the Patriots title to lose with them being the #1 seed and you wouldn’t even know that the Falcons are actually in the playoffs. The Bird Cage has beat the “no respect” thing like a dead horse, and until the ultimate goal is reached, than it should continue to be used for motivation. Even though the Falcons actually beat the Packers on the field of play back in November and held the greatest offense ever to 17 points, the ditto heads are framing it as what the Packers didn’t do as opposed to what the Falcons did do. Only one way to keep proving them wrong.
-What’s your gut feeling on the rematch with the Packers?
-Excited, nervous, or both?
-Will the Falcons have the true advantage of a bye and home field?
-Will Packers have more momentum since they played and won last week?
-What will the defensive gameplan be? What should the D gameplan be?
-How should the Falcons attack Aaron Rodgers: drop back or blitz?
-What will the Falcons offensive gameplan be?
-What should the Falcons O plan be?
-Run the rock or air it out?
-Have the Falcons kicked the turnover bug?
-Can the Falcons counter the ever-aggressive Packers D?
-Are the Packers now officially “balanced” after one good running game?
-How loud will Falcons fans be?
-Should this be the loudest game at The Dome in Falcons history?
-How many opposing fans will be there?
-Is this Falcons team the least acknowledged #1 seed in history of NFL?
-If Packers lose, what will the Ditto-Talking-Head Elite grab onto next?
-If Packers lose, will media elite ask for a re-do or ask for Playoffs to immediately become double-elimination?
-Finally, how confident are you as the Big Day approaches?