NFL Playoffs NFC Conference Finals Preview
Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
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 as he powers the Green Bay Packers into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the host Atlanta Falcons (Enter Contest).
Rodgers posted a 117.9 passer rating with 21 touchdowns and one interception during his eight-game winning streak. 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 October 30, with Mohamed Sanu reeling in the quarterback’s third touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining in a 33-32 victory.
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. 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. He’s dealing with a combination of pain tolerance and medical clearance in his decision to play versus Atlanta. Adams (career-best 76 catches, 997 yards and 12 TDs) won’t practice before Sunday’s pregame workout. Green Bay converted running back 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. Receiver Randall Cobb has gotten healthy with five touchdowns in his last five playoff games.
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. He’s been bothered by a toe injury in Saturday’s 36-20 victory over Seattle that has plagued him since Week 13. Jones is the NFL second-best in receiving yards with 1,409. Sanu had nine receptions for 84 yards to go along with his touchdown in the earlier contest versus the Packers. Fellow wideout Taylor Gabriel also found the end zone in that tilt. He has five TDs in his last seven games overall. Atlanta (NFL-best 540 points) has scored a touchdown on its first possession in each of its last seven games.