The Packers have gone on a surprising run in recent weeks, having won eight games in a row. Their winning streak not only helped them reach the playoffs, but it also got them to the NFC Championship game where they’ll take on the Falcons in Atlanta. The Packers are underdogs in this one, but with Aaron Rodgers playing like a Hall of Famer, there’s no telling which way this game will go.
While having Rodgers is certainly nice, it doesn’t completely eliminate the Packers’ cause for concern on Sunday. The Falcons are red-hot and the offense is firing on all cylinders. Conversely, the Packers are reeling health-wise, and they’re more reliant on Rodgers than ever before.
Here are three things the Packers have to be worried about on Sunday when they face the Falcons.
APAndy Clayton-King/Associated Pre
Injuries at wide receiver
Mike McCarthy said on Thursday that if this were a regular season game, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison would all likely be ruled out due to injury. Of course, this is a Conference Championship, so the situation is a bit different. Adams and Allison have both missed practice time, but the Packers are hoping they can play come game time. That doesn’t ease the concern for Aaron Rodgers’ lack of weapons, though.
Adams played through a sprained ankle against the Cowboys, catching five passes for 76 yards. Allison, on the other hand, caught three passes for 46 yards. Nelson probably won’t play in this game, which is a big enough blow to the offense. however, if Adams and Allison are less than 100 percent, the Packers’ explosiveness will be hindered significantly. Green Bay has to be concerned about the lack of playmakers around Rodgers this weekend.
Vic Beasley is one of the few defenders in this game that has to be game planned for. He’s a disruptive force on the edge who has the ability to get to the quarterback with great consistency. He had one sack in their first meeting, and the Packers have to be concerned about him surpassing that number on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers makes his receivers look better than they are, but he also improves the perception of the offensive line with his escapability and pocket presence.
With Beasley, though, his speed is rare for a player of his size. He can chase down Rodgers from sideline to sideline, which is something the Cowboys didn’t possess on Sunday. Bryan Bulaga will likely need help on the right side to slow down Beasley, whether it’s with Aaron Ripkowski in the backfield more or Richard Rodgers blocking on the edge. The Packers have to be worried about Beasley’s speed and athleticism.
Lack of offensive balance
The Packers are by far the most unbalanced team left in the playoffs, and they have been for some time. On Sunday against the Cowboys, they ran the ball 17 times, two of which were by Aaron Rodgers. Against the Giants, they threw it 40 times compared to 23 attempts by running backs. Those numbers figure to be even more lopsided against the Falcons, whom the Packers will try to keep up with offensively by throwing it early and often.
That’s not a good thing for Green Bay. Becoming one-dimensional on offense is the worst thing they can do for several reasons. It essentially eliminates the effectiveness of play-action, while it also does nothing to keep Matt Ryan on the sidelines. Yes, Rodgers is their best player, but that doesn’t mean he should throw it 50 times in this game. the Packers have to at least try to establish the run with Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael, particularly with their receiving corps ailing.