Who Will Represent The NFC In Super Bowl LI
The Atlanta Falcons will host one last game within the walls of the Georgia Dome on Sunday as they welcome the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of a week eight (33-32 Falcons win) encounter. Victory for either team will see them represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI on Sunday February 5th in Houston.
With both quarterbacks playing at the height of the powers coupled with suspect secondaries we should be in for a thrilling encounter. During their respective divisional playoff match-ups both quarterbacks spread the ball around, Falcons Matt Ryan connected with eight different receivers, whilst Packers Aaron Rodgers completed a 25+ yard pass to five different receivers.
Aaron Rodgers on the Championship game:
Now, around here we haven’t been the underdog to many times, but we are this week, and we’re going into a tough environment and there’s expectations outside of the building that they’re going to win.I like our role and I like our chances”
Tight end Jared Cook’s toe tap down the sideline which setup the game winning field goal put Cook at the forefront of attention from fans and media alike. Cook’s role extends far beyond the highlight play of last week, as Rodger’s has targeted Cook at least eight times in four of the last five games (329 yards, 1 touchdown). Fellow pass catchers Jordy Nelson, (ribs) DeVante Adams, (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) remain game time decisions. Randle Cobb and tight end Richard Rodgers’ role within the gameplan could prove to be a critical one if the Packers are to advance.
Like the Packers the Falcons have injury concerns of their own with standout receiver Julio Jones (toe). Jones missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and was limited during Fridays session. With Jones likely not to be at 100% expect Taylor Gabriel to see more targets (five targets or more in seven of his last eight games). Gabriel was outstanding with the ball in his hands last week, as 40 of his 71 yards came after contact.
The formidable backfield duo of DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will once again be the staple diet of this formidable Falcons offense. Will the duo feature even more in a bid to keep Rodgers and co on the sidelines? If so then the role of linebacker Clay Matthews will be a huge factor especially as Matthews play of late has been hindered by injury. As for the Packers ground game you would expect a bigger role from fullback Aaron Ripkowski as TY Montgomery has struggled in pass protection throughout the playoffs, and keeping the NFL’s sack leader Vic Beasley impact on the game limited is a must.
Dan Quinn on the keys to victory:
“With all the talk about quarterbacks, I think this game is going to be won at the line of scrimmage,” Quinn said. “That’s both sides of the ball, both teams [and] their run games, [the] protection. For us, you know the importance of having a balanced attack. Who can affect the quarterback, who can sustain run blocks, who can stay in and pass rush at the line of scrimmage. “
During last Sundays divisional triumph over the Cowboys, Packers cornerback Micah Hyde stepped up with a dominate display and whilst safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has performed admirably throughout the course of the playoffs, the packers will need Clinton- Dix to produce one of his finest performances to date. On the flip side can either one of Brian Poole, Robert Alford or Jalen Collins emerge as an unlikely hero?