The date is set Jan. 22, 2016, time: 3:05 pm EST, location: Georgia Dome Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta Falcons will take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Atlanta is coming off a 36-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, in which Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense tore apart that top five Seattle defense and Russell Wilson’s passing game. Ryan passed for 338 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions with a quarterback rating of 125.7. The Falcons’ defense sacked Wilson three times and came away with two interceptions courtesy of Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen. The Falcons’ defense is steadily improving, allowing 20.8 points per game versus the 28.2 points per game they averaged in the first half of the season.
Two weeks ago, I predicted that the Dallas Cowboys would defeat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. However, the night before the game, something told me that Aaron Rodgers would be remarkable. Although I felt unsure about the Cowboys, I had to stick with my pick. Of course, we saw Aaron Rodgers put on a LeBron James/Jordan like performance and carry his team to 34-31 victory. Rodgers threw for 356 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The throws that Rodgers made throughout the game was unlike anything I’ve seen before. During Green Bay’s last drive, Rodgers came under pressure and rolled to his left, throwing the ball across his body to hit Jared Cook for a 36-yard pass on the sideline. That pass and catch would set Mason Crosby up for a 56-yard field goal for the win. Rodgers’ performance will go down as one of the five most clutch performances in NFL playoff history.
Sunday, the Falcons look to advance to their second Superbowl in franchise history. This will also be the second time that Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers meet in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2011), Rodgers and the Packers (6) would go on to crush Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons (1) 48-21 in the divisional round (Julio Jones was in college at Alabama, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman were still in high school). Aaron Rodgers and the Packers would eventually advance to a Superbowl win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas, Texas. Ryan and Rodgers also met in week eight of the regular season in Atlanta. Ryan and the Falcons came out on top 33-32, capping off a game winning drive with a touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu in the back of the end zone.
If you love offense, then you will love the NFC game on Sunday. Both team are capable of lighting up the score board (Falcons 33.8/game, Packers 27.0/ game). However, I believe the Falcons defense is much better than Green Bay’s defense, which will be key for the birds. The Falcons’ running back duo, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, will also assist the birds in putting pressure on Green Bay’s linebacker core.
Falcons will get revenge on the Packers 38-33. Ryan will throw for 416 yards and four touchdowns. Devonta Freeman will rush for 89 yards and a touchdown. Julio Jones will catch seven passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Sanu will catch five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Justin Hardy will catch a 20 yard touchdown pass. Tevin Coleman, Taylor Gabriel, Aldrick Robinson, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo will all be in the mix as well. Matt Bryant will kick a go ahead field goal that will put the birds up five points. The Falcons will then go on to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Superbowl LI. Book it!