Green Bay at Atlanta
When: 3:05 PM ET, Sunday, January 22, 2017
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
ATLANTA – (Wire Service Preview by The Sports Xchange) – Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are enjoying the rides of their lives, although one quarterback’s impressive run will come to an unceremonious end at the other’s expense. Rodgers has made good on his confident promise to run the table – and then some – as he powers the Green Bay Packers into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the host Atlanta Falcons.
“I think he’s played incredible,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters of Rodgers, who has posted a 117.9 passer rating with 21 touchdowns and one interception during his eight-game winning streak. “Is he playing the best he ever has? He’s played at this level so often, but I think this is probably one of his best runs.” The 31-year-old Ryan (franchise-record 4,944 yards) hasn’t been too shabby in his own right, throwing 14 scoring passes without an interception during Atlanta’s five-game winning streak while his 117.1 passer rating this season was tops in the league and his 38 TDs trailed only Rodgers (40). Ryan’s Falcons got the better of Rodgers’ Packers in the first meeting of the season on Oct. 30, with Mohamed Sanu reeling in the quarterback’s third touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining in a 33-32 victory.
TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -5. O/U: 60.5
ABOUT THE PACKERS (12-6): While Rodgers has been blistering hot, the two-time NFL MVP will need some wide receivers to reel in his passes as Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle) and undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison (hamstring) all are nursing injures. Nelson (NFL-best 14 receiving touchdowns) sat out Sunday’s 34-31 victory over Dallas and is dealing with a combination of pain tolerance and medical clearance in his decision to play versus Atlanta. While Adams (career-best 76 catches, 997 yards and 12 TDs) won’t practice before Sunday’s pregame workout, Randall Cobb has gotten healthy with five touchdowns in his last five playoff games. “In the regular-season … mindset, none of them would play,” McCarthy said Thursday. “But obviously, this is a different time. This is a different point where we are in the season. Everybody understands where we are here.”
ABOUT THE FALCONS (12-5): All-Pro wideout Julio Jones insists he expects to play in the NFC title game despite sitting out his second straight practice on Thursday. “I got a little snag,” said Jones (NFL second-best 1,409 receiving yards), referring to aggravating a toe injury in Saturday’s 36-20 victory over Seattle that has plagued him since Week 13. “And I was like, ‘Well, let’s go check it out.’ It’s fine. I’ll be ready to go.” Sanu had nine receptions for 84 yards to go along with his touchdown in the earlier contest versus the Packers while fellow wideout Taylor Gabriel also found the end zone in that tilt and has five TDs in his last seven games overall.
1. Atlanta (NFL-best 540 points) has scored a touchdown on its first possession in each of its last seven games.
2. Green Bay converted RB Ty Montgomery, who rushed for two touchdowns in the first half against the Cowboys, easily could provide an increased presence in the passing game should Adams or Allison sit out.
3. Falcons Pro Bowl LB Vic Beasley Jr. recorded one of his NFL-best 15.5 sacks in the first meeting with the Packers.