Green Bay Packers (4-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. The Packers lead the series 15-12. The Packers won the last meeting 43-37 on Dec. 8, 2014, at Lambeau Field. The Packers fell behind 14-0 but came back to win 25-14 in the last meeting at the Georgia Dome on Oct. 9, 2011.
They also lead the league in scoring, averaging 33 points per contest.
Whether the Falcons can slow down the Packers could decide the game, and Green Bay is 21st in total offense with just one game of 30 points.
After a busy stretch that taxed their bodies with three home games in just 12 days earlier this month, the Packers can't complain about not having ample time to get right physically again for Sunday's road matchup with the Falcons.
Ball control might be Green Bay's best strategy. To be determined is how ready Knile Davis is to assume a bigger role in the offense at running back after he played sparingly in his Green Bay debut against the Bears, just two days after he joined the Packers following a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. Green Bay's only other potentially available halfback, undrafted rookie Don Jackson, suffered a hand injury in the last game. That left Green Bay to line up receiver Ty Montgomery nearly 50 times in the backfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Packers pass offense vs. Falcons secondary. Aaron Rodgers' right arm should be well-rested by the weekend after he threw 56 passes and completed a team-record 39 of them in Green Bay's last outing, an Oct. 20 win over the Chicago Bears. Rodgers figures to be throwing a lot again in what could be a shootout on the Georgia Dome turf. The Packers are again decimated at running back as they try to get recent addition Knile Davis more up to speed to contribute after a cameo appearance against the Bears. And, Green Bay certainly will be looking to pick apart the Falcons' underwhelming group of defensive backs, particularly penalty-prone cornerback Robert Alford and undrafted rookie nickel back Brian Poole.
--Packers defensive front vs. Falcons offensive line. Considering how overmatched Green Bay's injury-depleted cornerbacks are predicted to be against the great Julio Jones and the rest of quarterback Matt Ryan's passing targets, the best hope the Packers have for disrupting some of those throws is to rattle Ryan. "Get to the quarterback, disrupt the quarterback, be as disruptive as we can and make it easier on the back end," defensive end/linebacker Datone Jones said. For as prolific as Ryan has been this season in delivering the football through the air, his limitations for eluding the rush in the pocket make him ripe for the sacking. Opponents have sacked Ryan 18 times in seven games.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Packers LB Clay Matthews. The Packers' longtime defensive leader has been underwhelming of late. Matthews is without a sack the last two games, leaving him stuck at three for the season and losing ground to fellow outside linebacker Nick Perry, who has a team-high 5 1/2 sacks. Sunday's game at the Atlanta Falcons may give Matthews extra motivation to get back to being a difference maker again for Green Bay's defense. He could have many frequent run-ins with his cousin, Jake Matthews, the Falcons' starting left tackle.
INJURY REPORT: Green Bay -- Out: TE Jared Cook (ankle), CB Damarious Randall (groin), CB Quinten Rollins (groin), RB James Starks (knee). Questionable: WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), G T.J. Lang (hip), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), WR Ty Montgomery (illness). Atlanta -- Out: Tevin Coleman (hamstring). Questionable: DE Dwight Freeney (quadriceps).
Rodgers has nine touchdowns and one interception in four games against the Falcons.
Packers WR Jordy Nelson had two touchdowns in his last meeting against the Falcons.
Ryan has 300-plus passing yards in four of five games at home.
PREDICTION: The Falcons are itching to end a tough two-game slide, and Ryan should be able to outshoot Rodgers at home.
OUR PICK: Falcons, 35-29.