LIVE BLOG: Hot Falcons get another big test from Packers

Michael Turner carries for the Falcons Sunday against Green Bay. The Falcons led 10-3 at halftime. (AP photo)

Michael Turner carries for the Falcons Sunday against Green Bay. The Falcons led 10-3 at halftime. (AP photo)

Good morning. Need coffee.

I fully expect to see better football and fewer turnovers today than I witnessed last night in Athens. Georgia and Georgia Tech will go to low-tier bowl games — and those are gifts. The Falcons (8-2) and Green Bay (7-3) are two of the NFL’s top teams and could be on track to meet for the NFC title and the Super Bowl berth.

It may take me a few cups of coffee to get me going this morning. I left Athens at 1:45 a.m., got home at 3 a.m., crawled into bed at 3:30 a.m. But I’m in a climate controlled stadium and looking at a 1 p.m. kickoff. So that’s a significant step forward from last night.

OK, about the Falcons. This game is very similar to the Baltimore game two weeks ago. It’s a chance for the Falcons to gauge themselves against one of the league’s elite. Back in early August, I gave you my rankings of the top five NFC teams. Four of the five are still looking pretty good: 1. Green Bay; 2) Atlanta; 3) Dallas (oops); 4) New Orleans; 5) New York. Let’s not talk about No. 3.

The Packers are solid. They rank eighth in scoring and second in points against. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games, although it’s worth noting those numbers came against two imploding teams, Dallas and Minnesota.

Actually, the Packers’ last two wins came against opponents that fired their respective head coaches (Wade Phillips and Brad Childress) the next day.

Going out on a limb here: The Falcons’ Mike Smith is safe.

Here are a few obvious keys today:

♦ Get pressure on Rogers: Defensive end John Abraham is expected to play after sitting out last week’s game in St. Louis with a groin strain. That should help. The Falcons rank only 25th in the NFL with 18 sacks, but Abraham has eight of those. The next closest: Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Babineaux with two each.

♦ Pass protect: I know, also kind of obvious. But the Packers rank among NFL leaders with 29 sacks. The Falcons’ offense’ after some inconsistencies early in the year, has excelled during the current four game winning streak. During that span, quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown for nine touchdowns, one interceptions 1,103 yards.

♦ Turnovers: This qualifies as another “duh” key. But consider this: The Falcons are 7-0 this season when they win the turnover battle and 1-2 when its even or they lose it.

One last thought before I turn it over to you: The Falcons can really set themselves up nicely for the postseason if they win today and next week at Tampa Bay. They would be 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the conference and 3-0 in the NFC South with only four games left (two with Carolina, Seattle and New Orleans). But that’s probably getting a little too far ahead.

That’s it for now. I’ll check back shortly. Should be a great game.

Falcons inactives: John Parker Wilson (third quarterback), CB Dominique Franks, RB Antone Smith, T Garrett Reynolds, G Mike Johnson, TE Michael Palmer, DE Lawrence Sidbury, DT Trey Lewis.

About last night:

Georgia wasn’t any more impressive in a win than it was in some losses

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

1,086 comments Add your comment

DemFalcons

November 28th, 2010
11:58 am

This game will tell us a lot about our team. Win or Lose.
Let’s Go Falcons!

cattle dawg

November 28th, 2010
11:58 am

Something new, tired of all the UGA-GT smack.

FalconFanThatWillPoopOnU

November 28th, 2010
12:01 pm

First! We need to take care of the football, control the tempo and the clock, and run the football to beat GB today. Keep Aaron Rodgers off the field today. Go Falcons!

cattle dawg

November 28th, 2010
12:01 pm

Im lookin for a shoot out today. Win or lose Falcons will be fine.

Supes

November 28th, 2010
12:09 pm

If the game is close and Falcons get the ball last…I have faith in Matt Ryan and the offense to get the job done just like they did against the Ravens.

Packers are a darn good team…it’s gonna take everyone playing a complete game for 60 min. today.

Lets go Falcons!

Freegumbo

November 28th, 2010
12:13 pm

Matthews will sack Matty “Ice” so many times today the ice is going to refer to what’s on his shoulder when the Pack take him out of the game. The horse falls out of the “Cons” butt today!!!

Falcons Win

November 28th, 2010
12:13 pm

This is going to be an intense game today. I am worried the most about our secondary….

Freegumbo

November 28th, 2010
12:14 pm

Matthews will sack Matty “Ice” so many times today the ice is going to refer to what’s on his shoulder when the Pack take him out of the game. The horse shoe falls out of the “Cons” butt today!!!

Youidiot

November 28th, 2010
12:14 pm

Good article…. But first paragraph disgusted me. Really? Enough with the UGA hate. Can’t except the truth. Go Dawgs and Go Falcons!

The Blair Miss Project

November 28th, 2010
12:16 pm

<———— WIDE LEFT <—————

(((((42-34)))))
9-1
61-39-5

Chop Buster

November 28th, 2010
12:27 pm

We gonna send those Packers packing!!! Not in our house. GO FALCONS!!!

Chop Buster

November 28th, 2010
12:29 pm

Freegumbo…you litte Aints fans are still hoping and praying that we fall. Pathetic that you all really believe you’re the best team in the NFL until we beat you in your house. News flash: you’re gonna get beat AGAIN when you come into the Ga Dome.

Freegumbo

November 28th, 2010
12:30 pm

Roddy will catch a lot of balls today. ONLY IF THE REFS LET HIM CONTINUE TO PUSH OFF WHEN THE BALL IS IN THE AIR!!! But my money is on Matthews knocking the snot of of Matty!!! By the way what kind of sissy name is Matty???

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

November 28th, 2010
12:30 pm

Packers 38

Falcons 10

5150 P.O.A.D.

November 28th, 2010
12:30 pm

Jeff
I hope you were able to spend some time wuth your child while you were in Athens.
The Sunday shcool was light this morning so we decided not to have class. Too many people up too late. The UGA fans were nice and they didn’t want to talk crap because they knew they were lucky.
On to the Falcons
I hope the Falcons make the Fast start, but don’t go through the 2nd-3rd qtr deceleration. Green Bay can move the ball easily so the D needs to stay focused, but the O has to keep pushing to score.

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Freegumbo

November 28th, 2010
12:37 pm

Rogers five TD’s today against weak weak Cons secondary. Today Cons fans show-up late but and they’ll be going home early realizing just another season of disappointment.

JSS

November 28th, 2010
12:37 pm

POAD…
Behave today, ;-)

@ Jeff Schultz…
Got your note, I’ll work on that in the New Year after this last round of surgeries that commenced on Tuesday…

I would say have fun today; but somebody is bound to come in and spoil the good spirit of the day…

Deep exhale!!!

Nobodys Somebody

November 28th, 2010
12:37 pm

Why are u starting off talking about old news. Who cares about last night, it was a good game. Nobodys perfect u idiot.

Chop Buster

November 28th, 2010
12:39 pm

Freegumbo how did it feel losing to one of the worst teams in the league this year….Cardinals? Who dem Cons beat…dem Saints Dat Who! LOL

epic_quibble

November 28th, 2010
12:43 pm

Rogers is going to torch our secondary. I’m talking Sherman.
Grimes will have more balls over his head than a midget at
a Hawks game.

No sir, I don’t like it.

The Blair Miss Project

November 28th, 2010
12:43 pm

<———- WIDE LEFT <—————

Who Dat???? "Dat" would be any team with a bird as a mascot…. or a color……..

Browns and Cardinals, the TRUE powerhouses of the league!!!

Jeff Schultz

November 28th, 2010
12:46 pm

POAD — Thanks. Had lunch with my son.

Jeff Schultz

November 28th, 2010
12:47 pm

JSS, thanks. I know — too much too hope for.

Chop Buster

November 28th, 2010
12:48 pm

Blair Missy Project…well what does that say about our FALCONS who beat both of them TRUE powerhouses? You Aints fans love hanging out on the Falcons blog because this is where the REAL NFC action is this year. Who Dat Gon Beat Dem Aints…Dem FALCONS Dat Who!!! LOL

mountain_jim

November 28th, 2010
12:49 pm

Go Falcons – Home Field is within sight!

Supes

November 28th, 2010
12:50 pm

Falcons would have drafted Matthews, but we got a middle of the road DT instead…gotta say we missed on that one. Wish he was a Falcon…but this game will be on the O-Line…if they can pass protect enough and continue to keep the Packers honest with the run…Falcons should be OK.

Defend the Dome Falcons!!!

Katherine

November 28th, 2010
12:54 pm

Looks like all the guys except terry and michael picked green bay to win…prove them wrong falcons!

The Blair Miss Project

November 28th, 2010
12:55 pm

<———- WIDE LEFT <———-

Dear Coach Paul Johnson,

Enjoy your fish fry in Shreveport, LA.

-Dawgs

George

November 28th, 2010
12:55 pm

Enough smack talk… let’s play ball!!

ls1z28chris

November 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

Falcons fans are going to be in for a rude surprise today. All this smack being talked about the Saints. Mark my words, if the Falcons lose today we’re going to see a Georgia Dome with a lot of empty seats come 27 December. At least that game falls on a Monday. People in Georgia will be able to drown their sorrows with liquor.

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LoGruvz

November 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

They have to play all 60 minutes and no or few turnovers. Constant pressure on Rogers. I keep thinking of the Philadelphia game and hope we don’t pull one of those – hopefully that kind of game will never show up again we just couldn’t do anything that game – scares me cause I know we have it in us to have a bad day once in awhile just hope it’s not today (or against Tampa and N.O.)

George

November 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

Mike Smith’s request to show up early seems to have paid off. The 1st and 2nd tier seats seem pretty full.. which NEVER happens this early! Rise Up Falcons!!!

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

November 28th, 2010
12:57 pm

Folks are gonna be stunned at how easily we handle The Pack.

Gonna be fun!

GO FALCONS!

Katherine

November 28th, 2010
12:59 pm

ls1z28chris
November 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

Falcons fans are going to be in for a rude surprise today. All this smack being talked about the Saints. Mark my words, if the Falcons lose today we’re going to see a Georgia Dome with a lot of empty seats come 27 December. At least that game falls on a Monday. People in Georgia will be able to drown their sorrows with liquor.

lame

45ACP

November 28th, 2010
1:00 pm

I is ready for some Falcons football.

Jeff Schultz

November 28th, 2010
1:02 pm

Packers kicking off. . .

The Blair Miss Project

November 28th, 2010
1:02 pm

<———– WIDE LEFT <—————

Who Cares?? Real football is played on Saturdays.

Jeff Schultz

November 28th, 2010
1:03 pm

Drop. That’s the old Michael Jenkins,

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

November 28th, 2010
1:04 pm

That NOODLE ARM won’t cut against a REAL defense.

The Blair Miss Project

November 28th, 2010
1:05 pm

Jeff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

QUICK!!! Say something positive about ANY football team from the State…….

you can do it i know it!!!!

Dr. Warren

November 28th, 2010
1:05 pm

Hopefully, last night will mark the end of a month-long Shultz-Bradley hyperfocus on two mediocre college teams at the expense of our 8-2 NFL franchise. I suppose the Web metrics are strongly bearing out that GA & Tech blogs are what the readers want, and these two fine sportswriters have to do their jobs, but truth be told, I long for the days when the news was driven more by newsworthiness than by popularity contests.

Richie_Rich1986

November 28th, 2010
1:05 pm

@ Jeff he didn’t look ready for that one.

Jeff Schultz

November 28th, 2010
1:05 pm

Nice scramble by Ryan. I’m guessing Snelling was the 4th option on that.

Saint Simons

November 28th, 2010
1:05 pm

(((((45-42))))) hahahahahaha

Richie_Rich1986

November 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

Dang OL got some nice blocks downfield for turner there. FIRST DOWN FALCONS!

MWC

November 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

So far so good…

Dr. Warren

November 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

Sorry, Jeff, should have read, “Schultz”

Richie_Rich1986

November 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

@ Saint Simon

I’m confused are you a Tech fan or a fan of someone else?