All four of the playoff games this weekend are rematches. The Saturday match-ups are the ones I’m most interested in, simply because the Ravens and the Packers were my preseason Super Bowl picks.
I’ve already weighed in on the Ravens-Steelers game, now I’ll tackle the Packers-Falcons match-up.
Speaking of tackling, isn’t the Packers defense fun to watch? Not only do they have the 2009 Defensive MVP in Charles Woodson, but they probably have the 2010 Defensive MVP in Clay Matthews. I wonder if a team has ever had back-to-back defensive MVPs.
Matthews may be a defensive stud, but his hair is anything but. He rocks the locks and rocks the socks of his opponents. And I assure you that’s my last forced rhyme of this post.
The Packers really do have a great defense. They allow only 194 yards passing a game and rank fifth in the league. They do allow 115 rushing yards a game, which is eighteenth in the league.
Of course, because the pass defense is so stiff, teams may choose to run the ball against them. In each loss by the Packers, the defense gave up no more than twenty points. They really shut down a dangerous Michael Vick in their Wildcard playoff game.
The weakness on the Packers’ D is their rush defense and Michael Turner will put up some yards in this game. The Packers gave up 110 yards to Turner in the first match-up. Something tells me Turner won’t get that many yards this time. I believe the Pack holds him below 80 yards, but he will score a TD.
The weakness on the Packers offense is their rushing attack. James Starks had a great game last week, rushing for 123 yards. I don’t expect an encore performance.
I think the Eagles were geared up to stop the pass, and so Starks simply took them by surprise. The Falcons will be ready.
The Falcons rush defense is tenth in the league, allowing only 100 yards per game. They have a fast front seven and should be able to react against Starks, even if he makes it through the defensive line.
BUT, Starks will be enough of a force to setup the play-action pass and that’s where the Packers pull away from, well, the rest of the pack. They rank fifth in the league in passing yards per game, putting up around 194 yards per game.
Aaron Rodgers has thrown for almost 4000 yards and 28 TDs. 12 of those TDs were thrown to Greg Jennings, who is one of two WR studs in this game.
The Falcons pass offense is not quite as prolific as their rush defense. They rank in the bottom ten in the league against the pass and Rodgers should have a great day against them.
Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has a stud at WR himself. Roddy White is a killer bird. He caught over 1300 yards this year and 10 TDs this year. I see Woodson covering him throughout the game, which should limit his ability to impact the game. Roddy should get a TD in the game and maybe 50 yards.
I think the Packers’ pass rush should make the Falcons pass offense look pedestrian.
The Packers are one of the hottest teams in the league. If Starks can run for 70 yards, I like their chances. I think he does, and I think they beat them 28-20, in a game not as close as the scoreboard shows.
Author’s note: I may be a little biased because I picked them at the beginning of the year. I’ll ride that horse until it dies. Look for my thoughts next week if the Pack gets beat.
The winner of this game will go to the Super Bowl. I comfortably guarantee that.