NFL Monday Night Football: Packers/Falcons Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Monday Night Football matchup on ESPN this week features two teams that have already broken NFL records this season.

Green Bay is the first team in NFL history to score at least 35 points in their first three games of the season without turning the ball over once. The second-year of the collaboration between head coach Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers has produced an offense that is scoring 40.7 points per game while averaging 459.7 yards per game. Not only are the Packers leading the league in scoring but they also lead the NFL by averaging 6.9 yards per play. Rodgers may be playing behind the best offensive line in his career. He has been sacked just twice in his first three games on only 1.9% of his dropbacks which is the 2nd lowest mark in the league. LaFleur has helped Rodgers expand his passing game by committing to a rushing attack that is averaging 31 attempts per game which so far is resulting in 177 rushing yards per game.

Atlanta’s new NFL record is too reminiscent of the epic collapse in the Super Bowl in 2017 where they squandered their 28-3 second-half lead to the New England Patriots. The Falcons have become the first team in NFL history to surrender leads of at least 15 points in the 4th quarter in two straight games. Two weeks ago, Atlanta raced to a 20-0 lead in the opening quarter in Dallas and held a 39-24 lead with less five minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Yet a series of blunders that including a pineapple onside kick and a time-expiring successful field goal left the Falcons with a 40-39 loss.

Atlanta responded last week by racing out to a 26-10 lead at home against Chicago before allowing 20 unanswered points in the final 6 1/2 minutes of that game to lose to the Bears by a 30-26 score. That loss leaves the Falcons winless on the season and desperate to avoid an irrecoverable 0-4 start to the season.

Matt Ryan is doing his part on offense. He has thrown for 961 passing yards this year which is the 3rd most in the NFL. He has 7 touchdown passes along with two interceptions. Rodgers has 887 passing yards with a 67% completion percentage with 9 touchdown passes and no interceptions. He should have success throwing against a Falcons pass defense that is 31st in the NFL by allowing 350.3 passing yards per game. But the Packers defense has been accommodating to opposing quarterbacks this season as well with the 3rd highest opponent passer rating of 113.4 in the league.

Injuries will play a significant role in this game. The good news for both teams is that Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Green Bay’s Davante Adams seem likely to take the field for this game after both did not play last week. Adams took part in the team’s last two practices so he should play. Jones took part in limited practices this week but given the desperation, the Falcons face in this game, expect him to give it a go.

Yet Atlanta has wide receiver Calvin Ridley questionable for this game with an ankle injury. Ryan will likely need Ridley since the Falcons’ secondary is ravaged with injuries with Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, A.J. Terrell, and Darqueze Dennard all out for this game.

Green Bay has a host of injuries as well with wide receiver Allen Lazard going on injured reserve this week. Linebacker Christian Kirksey was the 6th player to go on IR this season. A handful of players remain questionable on game day.

With the move of the New England/Kansas City game to Monday night at 7:05 PM ET, kickoff for this game has been moved back to 8:50 PM ET. BookMaker has the Packers as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 56.5. ESPN has the broadcast.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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