Packers Must Win in the Trenches to Beat Atlanta

Most of the talk surrounding the Green Bay Packers this week has centered around Aaron Rodgers and rightly so. But unless the Packers can win in the trenches Sunday, on both sides of the ball, they won’t leave Atlanta as NFC champions.

With Rodgers and Matt Ryan playing as well as maybe two quarterbacks ever have coming into a conference championship game, the onus to disrupt them will be on the defensive lines.

Ryan and the Falcons have won five straight games and in the last four, Ryan has had a passer rating of 121 or better. Rodgers has similar numbers, he has three straight games with a rating over 125 until he posted a 98.8 against Dallas. That was due to his one interception.

In Rodgers last four games, he has 14 touchdown passes and one interception. Ryan has 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. During that same span, Ryan has thrown for an average of 305 yards. Rodgers has averaged 341.

With quarterbacks as hot as these two and defenses that are nothing more mediocre, a shootout seems likely.

That’s why things could come down to which quarterback is better protected. In the area of sacks, Rodgers and Ryan again are similar. Rodgers was sacked 35 times, Ryan 37.

The two teams also have similar sack numbers. Green Bay had 39 in the regular season and four in two playoff games. The Falcons finished with 34 and had three against Seattle last week.

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Atlanta may have the best single pass rusher in Vic Beasley, who had 15.5 sacks, but after that, the next highest total of someone playing the game is Dwight Freeney with three.

Green Bay, on the other hand, has Nick Perry with 11, Julius Peppers with 7.5, Clay Matthews with five and Mike Daniels with four.

In truth, the Packers boast one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. According to Numberfire, Green Bay opponent’s lost an expected 74.77 points due to sacks, which ranked fourth and its sack percentage of 6.7 ranked seventh.

Green Bay has the better pass rush and also the better pass-blocking offensive line. Although both are good, Pro Football Focus ranked the Packers fifth and the Falcons sixth. Atlanta ranks higher overall due to its run blocking.

But with two great quarterbacks, you get the feeling the game will be decided by them. And while there may not be many stops in the game, the team that gets more will win.

And the best way to stop a great quarterback is with a great pass rush.

In terms of harassing and protecting the quarterback, the Packers seem to have an advantage and if that plays out Sunday, they will have a great chance of winning the game.



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