Falcons-Packers Preview

While it may be too late to help them get into the playoffs, the

Green Bay Packers are hoping to get Aaron Rodgers on the field for

their final four games.

The Packers star quarterback’s status remains unknown for

Sunday’s visit from the Atlanta Falcons.

Green Bay has gone 0-4-1 since Rodgers broke his collarbone in

the first quarter of a 27-20 loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. The Packers

(5-6-1) were routed 40-10 in Detroit in their latest game on

Thanksgiving and lost a key tiebreaker to the Lions, who clinched

the best record in NFC North play.

Green Bay might have a decision on Rodgers’ status as early as

Friday.

“It’s a medical decision. There were three parts to it: the

strength, the range of motion and the evidence that we see on the

scan. Two out of three are passed so far,” Rodgers said. “I can’t

control the healing of my bone. That’s frustrating. But I’ve been

preparing as if I was going to play every week and trying to help

Matt (Flynn) and Scott (Tolzien) out as much as I possibly

can.”

Green Bay is 1 1/2 games behind Detroit, and it’s far less

likely it can make up a 2 1/2-game deficit on San Francisco for the

NFC’s final wild-card spot. The 49ers also own the tiebreaker over

the Packers by virtue of their 34-28 win in Week 1.

“We’re still in it. We need Detroit to lose two out of four, but

the biggest part of that is us winning out,” Rodgers said. “We’ve

got to control what we can control. That starts this weekend. We

have to get a W.”

In their final four games, the Packers will face only one team

currently with a winning record, making a visit to Dallas on Dec.

15. While they have a meager record, the Falcons (3-9) might have a

little more confidence after a 34-31 overtime win against Buffalo

this past weekend.

Atlanta totaled 423 yards – its most in eight contests – while

ending a five-game losing streak. Matt Ryan overcame a season-high

six sacks to top 300 yards passing for the first time in five

games, and Roddy White had easily his best performance in 2013 with

10 catches for 143 yards.

Steven Jackson, meanwhile, scored a pair of touchdowns while

setting season bests with 23 carries and 84 yards. Jackson was

averaging 36.4 yards in the previous seven games in this

injury-shortened campaign.

“I think we can always be better,” Jackson said. “I think we can

always hope for things to be better as well. We just have to be

consistent in our work and continue to show up day to day, week to

week, with the same expectations.”

Tony Gonzalez caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass in that game

despite dealing with an ailing toe, and he’s 79 yards shy of

becoming the fifth NFL receiver – and only tight end – to reach

15,000. However, he was also among four players limited in practice

earlier this week.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee), center Peter Konz (ankle)

and backup safety Zeke Motta (hand) were the others.

Weatherspoon is hoping to get a chance to stop Rodgers and

rookie running back Eddie Lacy.

Lacy is ninth in the NFL with 822 yards but had just 16 on 10

carries in Detroit after rushing for 110 in a 26-all tie with

Minnesota on Nov. 24.

“(Stopping Lacy) is big. You want to get a lot of people to him

early,” Weatherspoon said. “With Aaron, he gets the ball out quick

and knows where he wants to go with it. He knows how to make

defenders move a certain way. He has one of the strongest arms in

the NFL so that poses a challenge.”

Rodgers has topped 300 yards in each of his four career matchups

with the Falcons, including a 48-21 playoff victory in Atlanta on

Jan. 15, 2011. He has totaled nine touchdowns to just one

interception in those games, and passed for 396 yards and two TDs

in a 25-14 victory Oct. 9, 2011.

Ryan, meanwhile, has failed to surpass 200 yards in any of his

four games against Green Bay, and has five interceptions and five

touchdowns in those matchups.

Jackson has averaged 91.8 yards in his six lifetime meetings

with Green Bay but had 57 on 12 carries in his most recent one, a

30-20 loss for St. Louis on Oct. 21, 2012.