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Falcons aim to outscore star-studded Packers offense – Week 8 preview

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The Atlanta Falcons welcome the Green Bay Packers on Sunday as they attempt to snap a two game losing streak. After winning four out of their first five games, the Falcons have fallen to the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers in the last two weeks, significantly reducing their advantage over the rest of the NFC South.

While they haven’t been the dominant force that was expected of them, the Packers have quietly put together a 4-2 record and find themselves in second place behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. They would qualify for the playoffs through earning a wild card spot if the season ended today.

Falcons News

The Falcons will be without Tevin Coleman for Sunday. Coleman and Devonta Freeman have made up arguably the most impressive running back tandem in the league through the first seven weeks of the season. Freeman showed last year how effective that he can be as a workhorse running back, but the Falcons will miss Coleman’s speed in the open field. Former Patriot Stevan Ridley was signed by the team to help spell Freeman, while Terron Ward was also promoted from the practice squad and will likely take on the third running back role.

Matt Ryan has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league so far this season, but he needs to spread the ball around more than he did last week. Julio Jones has put together some of the most impressive performances from any wide receiver this year and is undoubtedly an incredible talent, but Ryan forced the ball to him too often last week. More often than not Julio will still make the play, but getting the ball to the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Jacob Tamme makes the offense less predictable and will open Julio up more opportunities for big plays.

Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel has been an effective rotational receiver for the Falcons, using his speed well to get open down the field. He practiced in full on Thursday following a concussion and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be hoping that he’s available for Sunday against a Packers defense with injuries stacking up in their secondary.

Left tackle Jake Matthews has built upon his 2015 season and become one of the more dependable offensive linemen in the league. He was listed with a wrist injury by the Falcons, but has participated fully in practice throughout the week and will look to help an offensive line which has struggled slightly in the last couple of weeks after a promising start to the season.

Packers News

The Packers will be desperately trying to find a way to slow down Julio Jones, who is showing once again why he’s one of the best receivers in the game. Unfortunately for the Packers, they are without cornerbacks Sam Shields, Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall. Starting cornerback responsibilities are likely to fall to LaDarius Gunter, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers should look to the safeties for help.

At running back, Green Bay are without Eddie Lacy and James Starks, their two most experienced players at the position. Wide receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb have both seen snaps at the position and it’s likely to be the former who takes the majority of the plays from the backfield in the Packers’ pass-first offense. When forced to run, recent trade acquisition Knile Davis and Don Jackson should see the bulk of the carries.

While left tackle Jake Matthews has played well for the Falcons, he will be a lot more confident if Clay Matthews, still one of the top pass rushers in the league, fails to overcome a hamstring injury. Ryan Schraeder has struggled slightly more and Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry will look to add to his sack total so far.


This promises to be a shootout. Neither team is playing particularly good defense at the moment and both view themselves as elite offenses. The Falcons will miss Tevin Coleman but should still boast the better running game. If they can force Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t quite looked himself this season to play under pressure, the Falcons will fancy their chances.

Julio Jones promises to be the key to this game. If the Packers can contain him then they will put themselves in a great place to win, but if not then it could be a long day for the Packers’ secondary.