Game Scout: Falcons at Packers

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis. - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Dick Stockton, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin
*Keys to the game: It hasn't seemed to matter how many defenders the Falcons stuff into the box - Atlanta has allowed nine consecutive opponents to rush for more than 100 yards. That included 195 by Buffalo last week, and the Falcons enter this game allowing 4.8 yards per carry on the season. That's music to the ears of the Packers, who are expected to start QB Matt Flynn again. Flynn never stood a chance against Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, getting swarmed in the pocket as soon as he dropped back. Atlanta doesn't boast the same type of pass rush, but the Packers' issues in pass protection are real and they will see how much of the offensive load RB Eddie Lacy can handle. The Packers' run defense has been similarly attacked in recent weeks, while the Falcons' offense has benefitted from RB Steven Jackson finally being as close to 100 percent as he'll get this season. QB Matt Ryan continues to play well despite the Falcons' struggles, but he has limited options downfield and an offensive line that allows consistent pressure.
*Matchup to watch - Falcons CB Robert Alford vs. Packers wide receivers: Coach Mike Smith said Alford replaced veteran Asante Samuel last week due to injury, but no injury was announced during the game. Alford, who was targeted six times and gave up just one reception, is among the young players Atlanta is looking to evaluate down the stretch. Smith acknowledged Alford was tested by Buffalo last week, and he can expect more attention against Green Bay's deep receiving crew.
*Player spotlight - Falcons OL Ryan Schraeder: The rookie saw his most extensive playing time at right tackle last week, and is also in store for increased snaps as he rotates with Jeremy Trueblood. Schraeder also enters the game as an extra blocked in the Falcons' "jumbo" package.
*Fast facts: The Falcons have scored just 42 third-quarter points this season, an average of 3.5 per game. ... The Packers have allowed more than 170 rushing yards in four of their past five games.
While the Falcons are in full evaluation mode of youngsters at several positions, the Packers are still clinging to some playoff aspirations. Matt Flynn won't face the same type of heat he did in Detroit, and can move the ball against the Falcons at Lambeau.
*Our pick: Packers 23-19

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