View Poll Results: Who Will Advance To The NFC Championship Game?

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Thread: NFC Divisional Round - Packers 48 - Falcons 21

  1. #1
       
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    NFC Divisional Round - Packers 48 - Falcons 21

    Associated Press
    ATLANTA -- Brett who? Aaron Rodgers has turned these NFL playoffs into his own showcase.


    Carving up the NFC's top-seeded team, Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, ran for another score and led the Green Bay Packers to their second straight postseason road victory with a stunning 48-21 rout of the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.

    The Packers (12-6) will have to win one more on the road to complete their improbable run from sixth seed to the Super Bowl, but nothing looks out of the question the way Rodgers is playing. He'll lead Green Bay into the NFC championship game at either Chicago or Seattle next weekend.

    "That's what you dream about," Rodgers said. "This just feels so good right now. To be able to put up an offensive performance like that, it's just incredible."

    Rodgers completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards, more than Brett Favre -- the guy he replaced in Green Bay -- ever threw for in a playoff game. After knocking off Michael Vick and the Eagles in Philadelphia, then dominating Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Atlanta, Rodgers is creating his own legacy in Titletown USA.

    This was the most points ever scored by the Packers in a playoff game. They could've left punter Tim Masthay at home. He was never needed.

    Green Bay scored 35 consecutive points, including Tramon Williams' 70-yard interception return on the final play of the first half that left the Falcons (13-4) and a crowd of more than 69,000 in a state of shock as the teams headed to the locker room.

    "It was one of those nights," Rodgers said. "I felt like I was in the zone."

    Ryan, who beat out Rodgers for a spot in the Pro Bowl, had a miserable night. He also was picked off in the end zone, costing Atlanta another scoring chance early on that might've changed the complexion of the game, and lost a fumble attempting a simple sneak. In two career playoff games, Matty Ice is 0-2 with six turnovers and a safety.

    The Falcons went into the playoffs as the NFC's top-seeded team for only the second time in franchise history. The result was the same as the first time: one and done.

    At least the fans didn't have to deal with the heartache of blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the fate suffered by the 1980 Falcons in their 30-27 loss to Dallas. This game was pretty much over when Rodgers guided the Packers on an 80-yard drive to open the second half, running the last 7 yards for the TD that made it 35-14.

    When Rodgers drove the Packers on yet another scoring drive, capped off with a 7-yard pass to John Kuhn late in the third quarter, thousands of red-clad fans headed for the exits, not even bothering to hang around for the final period of a magical season than turned into a green nightmare in the playoffs.

    In the locker room afterward, Falcons coach Mike Smith tried to make sense of it for his players.

    "I know they're disappointed. I'm disappointed. We're all disappointed," he said. "But we will learn from it. That's the important thing. We will learn from what took place this evening. I also told 'em, as bad as they feel right now, remember the whole body of work we put out there this year. We can't forget that either."

    The Falcons simply couldn't stop Rodgers, who carved up the Atlanta defense on four drive of at least 80 yards.

    Time after time, Rodgers ducked a shoulder or pulled off a nifty spin move to get away from a rusher, leaving him grasping at air. Rodgers put that extra time to good use, inevitably finding the open man in what became an increasingly tortured night for the Falcons.

    Early on, Rodgers spent plenty of time picking on Falcons nickel back Christopher Owens, who was filling in for injured Brian Williams. Owens was twice called for penalties in a desperate bid to slow Rodgers and his deep receiving corps.

    But no one on the Atlanta defense did much to stop Rodgers after the opening drive, when Stephen Nicholas chased down Greg Jennings from behind and forced a fumble that was recovered by Brett Grimes around midfield.

    Atlanta quickly drove for the opening score, a 12-yard run by Michael Turner. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they had to give the ball back to Rodgers. And, as everyone soon discovered, there was no stopping No. 12. A 13-play, 81-yard drive evened the score, Rodgers finishing it off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson.

    The Falcons last gasp, as it turned out, was Eric Weems' 102-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, the longest return in NFL playoff history.

    Rodgers went right back to work, even after the Packers bobbled the next kickoff out of bounds at the 8-yard line. That just gave their quarterback more room to work, and this time he guided the Packers 92 yards in 10 players for Kuhn's 1-yard plunge that made it 14-all.

    Ryan was the first to crack in this quarterback duel. He had the Falcons in scoring position again, but threw up a ball in the corner of the end zone for Michael Jenkins. When the receiver slipped, Williams jumped up for an easy interception.

    Back to Rodgers, who needed only seven plays to torch the Falcons on an 80-yard drive. The touchdown was a perfectly thrown pass to James Jones along the side of the end zone, allowing the receiver to leap over shorter cornerback Brent Grimes for a 20-yard score with 48 seconds left in the first half.

    At that point, it was still a game, the Packers up 21-14.

    It wouldn't be that way for long.

    Atlanta hustled into position to try a field goal before halftime, thanks to a pair of pass interference penalties. But Ryan was sacked by Clay Matthews with 10 seconds to go, forcing the Falcons to call their final timeout.

    That would be a backbreaker for the Falcons. Instead of sending out Matt Bryant to attempt a 53-yard kick, coach Mike Smith wanted to get it a little closer. Bad move. The Packers knew Ryan had to throw it near the sideline to stop the clock, and Williams read the play perfectly.

    The cornerback, who sealed the win over the Eagles by intercepting Vick in the end zone, stepped in front of a quick out pass intended for Roddy White, made a nice cut around midfield and was gone on a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown on the final play of the half.

    The crowd sat in stunned silence as the Packers knocked through the extra point then headed off the locker room with a 28-14 lead.

    The second half was just one long victory lap for the Packers, whose hefty contingent of fans was able to move down right near the edge of the emptying Georgia Dome and serenade their team with "Go, Pack, Go!" chants.

    For the Falcons, nothing but misery.

    A long pass completion was overturned with a replay. Ryan turned it over for the third time, fumbling a snap while attempting a sneak on third-and-short. Michael Jenkins lost the ball after a catch, Atlanta's fourth turnover of the night.

    And perhaps most painful to watch, Tony Gonzalez was injured on a catch late in the third quarter.

    The guy who's caught more passes than any other tight end in NFL history came to Atlanta looking for the first playoff win of his career and perhaps his last shot at reaching the Super Bowl. But those hopes had long been dashed by the time he limped off the field, favoring his right leg. He eventually returned to the bench, but there was nothing he could do as he sat solemnly on the bench, watching his postseason hopes dashed again.


    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
    Last edited by DannyMilk; 01-15-2011 at 11:59 PM.
    2010 Chicago Bears: NFC North Champions

  2. #2
       
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    I don't think the Falcons are overpowering, but they make few mistakes, and home field advantage is huge for them...neutral field I'd pick the Packers though
    2010 Chicago Bears: NFC North Champions

  3. #3
    A Packers/Bears NFC final would be sweet
    Last edited by Colts01; 01-10-2011 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Very fat fingers
    There is only one immutable law in life - in a gentleman's toilet, incoming traffic has the right of way.
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    OMG, I think I'm changing my predictions from beginning of the year. Just got a feeling about GB now, even on hostile turf. Packers win in a close one.
    These are my principles and if you don't like them ... well ... I have others. ~ Groucho

  5. #5
    Packers.
    Screw you guys, I'm going home.

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    Falcons.

  7. #7
    The Falcons aren't getting a lot of respect in this game. They are the #1 seed and are favored by less than a field goal at home.

    That said, this is another coin flip matchup for the Packers. The difference is - the Falcons have won a lot of their coin flip games this season and the Packers have not. Atlanta is 7-2 in games with a margin of 7 points or less this year, while Green Bay is 5-6 (counting the playoff win over the Eagles).

    Green Bay definitely had every chance to win the first matchup, but their classic flaws came to the forefront: 1) special teams mistakes (allowed the big return to Weems plus the facemask penalty late in the game), 2) failures on short yardage (highlighted by the Rodgers fumble on the goalline), 3) game management (failure to challenge Tony Gonzalez non-catch, mis-management of last drive, leaving plenty of time for the winning FG)

    Also, the Atlanta is unstoppable at home theory is pretty much a myth. They played a lot of close games at home that could have gone either way.

    It seems that with the line of only -2, Vegas is practically begging people to bet on Atlanta, which is a little curious. Maybe Vegas is buying into the legend of James Starks, figuring that if the Packers have found a running game, they really will be unstoppable. Maybe they are expecting a reversion to the mean of luck in close games for the Falcons.

    I think this will be another down to the wire game, and as a Packer fan I am actually less frightened of Atlanta than I was of Philly because they're not as explosive, but they're also a much better all around TEAM. Should be a really good game.

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    The Packer's offense is due to put up some points. The indoor conditions at Atlanta may be just what the doctor ordered. The Falcon's close to the vest, conservative offense is a bit of a throwback.
    Green Bay tackles this time, commits to stopping Turner, and puts the game on Matt Ryan. If you shut down Atl's run game and don't let him play pitch and catch with Gonzales but make him push the ball down the field on third down, I think you got 'em.
    Green Bay will go into Atlanta with a lot of confidence. Packers - Bears for the NFC Championship.

  9. #9
    Turner is going to get his yards. I think the Packers will be able to hold Roddy White relatively in check. Gonzalez is the big concern - I wonder if the Packers will try putting Woodson on him.

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    The Stats packed response to the Packers-Falcons.

    Offense/Defense

    Passing:
    The Packers are superior to the Falcons on both sides of the ball in this stat, while the Falcons are barely average on both.

    Packers: 6.72 Off YPA, 4.83 Def YPA
    Falcons: 5.68 Off YPA, 5.76 Def YPA
    League Average: 5.75 YPA,

    Rushing:
    The rushing stat shows both teams are evenly matched, which should surprise many people. They both are below average on both stats, which should surprise Michael Turner owners.

    Packers: 3.80 Off YPA, 4.70 Def YPA
    Falcons: 3.80 Off YPA, 4.60 Def YPA
    League Average: 4.20 YPA,


    Offensive Balance:
    This is where things get more interesting.

    Packers: Pass on 57.9% of their attempts
    Falcons: Pass on 54.7% of their attempts
    League Average: 56.9%

    Surprisingly the Packers are a balanced offense, no matter what most pundits say. They appear pass happy because they are so much more effective slinging it, but McCarthy does a good job of running enough so that Rodgers doesn’t have to face too many nickel packages.

    The Falcons are definitely a rush heavy team, given their ball control mentality.

    Defensive Balance:

    Packers: are passed on 59.2% of their attempts
    Falcons: are passedon 61.8% of their attempts
    League Average: 56.9%

    So opponents tend to pass slightly more than average against the Pack, but offensive coordinators throw a lot of passes at the Falcons Secondary, which seems odd given the Falcons below average rushing defense.

    Ball Control:

    Packers: 62.5 Off Att, 60.6 Def Att, +1.9 Att/game
    Falcons: 68.6 Off Att (League best), 59.8 Deff Att, +8.8 Att/Gm (League Best)
    Average: 63.1 Att

    The Falcons are very good at dictating terms on offense, which coupled with a Defense that doesn’t allow that many plays against it either, allows them to control the game clock and dictate tempo.

    Scoring:

    Packers: 24.3 OPPG 15.0 DPPG +9.3 PPG
    Falcons: 25.9 OPPG 18.0 DPPG +7.9 PPG
    Average: 22.0 PPG

    Both teams have a high scoring margin, though the Packers have been more dominant than the Falcons.

    Efficiency:

    Packers: 14.8 YPPS 20.6 YPPA (League Best) +5.8 diff
    Falcons: 13.2 YPPS 18.5 YPPA +5.3 diff
    Average: 15.5 YPP

    YPPS: Yards per Point Scored
    YPPA: Yards per Point Allowed.

    These efficiency markers measure how good these teams are at producing and avoiding points, given their own and opponents yardage production. The Packers make it extremely hard to score points on them, making each team work very hard for them, while the Falcons are no slouch either on that category. Offensively the Falcons are very efficient as well, while the packers are slightly above average.

    Turnovers:

    Packers: 2.00 DTOPG 1.38 OTOPG +0.63 Diff
    Falcons: 1.94 DTOPG 1.06 OTOPG +0.88 Diff
    Average: 1.68 TOPG

    TOPG: turnover per game. D=Defense, O=offense.

    Both Defenses are very good at producing turnovers, with very close numbers. And although both offenses are careful with the ball, the Falcons are VERY careful with it.


    Given all these numbers, the Packers are the better team on both sides of the ball. I would recommend McCarthy to run a lot against the Falcons, contrary to what most teams have done all year. Hopefully he won’t listen to me…

    Special/Teams

    FG Kicking:

    Packers: 78.6% For, 82.8% Against
    Falcons: 90.3% For, 65.2% Against (League Best)
    Average: 82.8%

    The kicking game is a huge advantage for the Falcons, who besides been very accurate, are the best at disrupting opponent kickers. The Packers are below average in accuracy in the first place, which might be attributed to playing ½ their games on the frozen tundra. But playing a road game in adome won’t make things easier for them, I think.

    Field Position:

    This value I calculate by finding the average Punt/return for the team, and substracting from it the league average of 9.6 YPA. To this I added the teams Kick Yds/Return differential.


    Packers: -3.4 Yards/Return, (-1.7 per punt)
    Falcons: +7.7 Yards/Return, (+2.5 per punt)

    This is another huge advantage for the Falcons, who will have a net gain of +11.1 Yards in the field advantage.

    Special Teams Scoring:

    This value is found by calculating the scoring directly attributable to special teams, except for Field Goals, which we already covered in their own category. That is Put Returns, Kick returns and XPM per game

    Packers: +2.88 PPG For, +1.88 PPG Against
    Falcons: +3.5 PPG For, +2.31 PPG Against
    Average: +2.78 PPG

    Surprisingly, the Packers aren’t giving up that many points per game on special teams as expected, while the Falcons are very good at making those points count.

    In special teams, the edge weighs heavily on the Falcons favor. The Packers may not allow that many scoring returns, but they do allow too much yardage.

    Conclusion:

    The Falcons like to control time of possession, and have been very good at that all year long. The Packers have been very good at stopping other teams from moving the ball.

    When I combine all the numbers, they give the Packers barely an edge on a neutral field. Now we have to look at the effectiveness of each team home and away.

    Packers:
    Turnovers: on Offense they don’t turnover the ball on the road any more often than at home. On Defense, they gain only 1.3 TOPG, lower than league average.
    Offense and Defense: The offense is 96% as effective in producing raw yardage on the road, while the defense has been just as good on the road as back on Lambeau.

    Falcons:
    Turnovers: They are just as careful on the road as at home on offense, as well as good at producing turnovers on defense.
    Offense & Defense: The offense is 104% more effective at home, while the defense has been just as effective on the road as on the field.

    Basically, there is a net bonus for Matty Ice on offense compared to Rodgers, given the Home field advantage and Aaron’s lesser production on the road (not that high a an edge though). The biggest difference comes on Defense, were the Packers aren’t nearly as good on the road as they are at home in producing turnovers. This makes it a pick-em

    Coaching:

    Packers: McCarthy has been iffy on his play calling in tight games, but he has a gambler streak in him.
    Falcons: Smith proved too conservative in the Saints game in the 4th quarter, but he hasn’t made any bonehead mistakes or time management blunders.

    The two head coaches couldn’t be more different. Will Smith’s conservative approach beat McCarthy’s more fearless but mistake prone way?

    My Pick: Packers +1 (numbers bear it out just barely, and I'll go with the better QB)
    Last edited by iwatt; 01-11-2011 at 11:17 AM.
    “Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.”
    ― Napoleon Bonaparte

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