Keys to the game: Packers vs. Falcons (NFC Championship)
Pressuring Matt Ryan is a big key on Sunday for the Packers.
The Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons will square off on Sunday in the NFC Championship. Both teams come in with a ton of momentum as the Packers (12-6) have won their last eight games and the Falcons (12-5) have won their last five.
This will be the second time these two teams have faced each other this season. In the first meeting, the Falcons won 33-32 thanks to a Matt Ryan touchdown pass with only seconds remaining. The Packers are a different team from the Week 8 loss, so we could be in for another shootout.
Here's a look at the Packers' keys to the game.
Slow down the Falcons offense
Stopping the Falcons offense is near impossible because they have great balance when it comes to running and throwing the ball. So the Packers need to find a way to just slow it down.
And they best way to do it is constantly put pressure on Ryan. The MVP candidate has been sacked a bit this season, but he hasn't been consistently pressured. Packers linebackers Nick Perry, Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews will need to have the game of their lives because if the Packers can't get pressure on Ryan consistently, the Falcons will score 35 points with no issues.
Aaron Rodgers stays hot
The No. 1 reason the Packers have won their last eight games is the play of Aaron Rodgers. During the win-streak, Rodgers has posted 21 touchdowns and one interception. And of those 21 touchdowns, six have come in the last two weeks.
What makes Rodgers is dangerous is he's a better passer when he's outside the pocket. Also, if he doesn't see anyone open, he will run it and get the first down.
Rodgers threw for four touchdowns in the Week 8 loss to the Falcons. He will need to put up similar numbers on Sunday.
Getting an early lead is also big for the Packers. In last week's game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers jumped to a 21-3 lead, which was a big reason why they came away with the win. But then again, the Packers got off to a slow start against the New York Giants and ended up winning 38-13.
The biggest thing is the Packers can't afford to get off to a slow start. The Falcons average 35 points per game at home and they have scored on their opening drive in the last seven games. So it's clear the Packers can't afford to wait to get things going until the fourth quarter.
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