Week 4 is here in the most unpredictable season in recent memory. That Packers have the prime time slot (Albeit a little later than ususal) and here’s the three points were most focused on:
Matt LaFleur’s Time To Shine
Let’s not rehash all the wide receiver fever from April or the growing injury list, let’s get down to what really matters: What are the Packers going to do about it? If the first three games and a #1 rated offense haven’t already tipped you off, Matt LaFleur knows to run an offense. Even with Funchess opting out and Lazard, EQ, and potentially Davante all missing this game, the “receiver in the 1st” crowd is bellowing louder than ever. Don’t listen. The true strength of LaFleur’s offense is that it schemes open receivers while making liberal use of backs and ends in the passing attack. With a full stable of versatile, complementary backs and some good receiving tight ends, the Packers have everything they need to win football games.
The Falcons Pathetic Defense
The Falcons let the Bears drop 20 points on them in the 4th quarter last week. The week before, they gave up 30 second half points to the Cowboys. In week 1, they gave up 24 second half points to the Seahawks. They’ve allowed more points than anyone else in the league (the Vikings, by the way, have allowed the second most) and seem completely incapable of making second half adjustments. They have a solid run defense, but they’ve let teams pass at will when it mattered most. Things aren’t looking up for them this week. Against a beat up group of receivers, the Falcons may be in even worse shape. At cornerback, Kendall Sheffield hasn’t played all year with a foot injury, AJ Terrell is on the COVID list, and Darqueze Dennard was placed on IR this week. At safety, both starters – Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen – have been declared out. I remember a time when the Packers were the team with a hopelessly beat up secondary in this matchup… and I remember how that ended.
The Packers Less Pathetic Defense
Defenses across the league suffered without a full offseason, and the Packers are clearly no exception. Ranking 20th in the league in scoring defense isn’t pathetic, but it’s not great. Kenny Clark may or may not play, but Christian Kirksey has been placed on IR and Jaire Alenxander got hurt in practice this week. They’re also not facing a pathetic offense. The Falcons are loaded with skill position talent and have still put up 90 points in 3 games. The Falcons will score, the question will be if the Packers can slow them down enough for the offense to stay ahead. If they can’t, things will get ugly.
Conventional wisdom says the Packers will try to run the ball, but that’s too predictable and it doesn’t fit the identity they’ve been working on since LaFleur took the helm. I expect them to use a lot of misdirection passing and drain the clock with short route combinations. The Falcons may keep the tempo up and try to draw the Packers into a shootout. Luckily, the Packers defense, soft as it has been, has put the clamps down in crunch time.
Packers 34, Falcons 31