The Green Bay Packers have fond memories of Atalanta having won the Suoer Bowl there a mere nine months ago. Now they return to the city in Georgia to face the Falcons hoping to extend their unbeaten start to the new season.
The Packers, level with Detroit at 4-0 as the NFL’s only unbeaten clubs, have won 10 games in a row counting last year’s title run, including a humbling 48-21 playoff romp last January over the Falcons, who now hunger for revenge.
“It’s definitely going to have a playoff feel,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Sunday’s game. “We’re fully aware of how they feel about us. We’re definitely excited. This is going to be a hot game.”
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers carved up the Falcons by completing 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in his most recent trip to the Georgia Dome.
“Let’s just leave it in last year,” Rodgers said. “We had a great run through the playoffs, beat some really good teams to win the championship, but it’s a new team.”
The Packers might be even more dangerous now. Rodgers threw for a regular-season career-best 408 yards and four touchdowns while running for two more touchdowns in a 49-23 victory over Denver last Sunday. No quarterback in NFL history had ever had such a day for yardage and scores.
“We expect him to go out and play well,” Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Do we expect him to throw for 400-some yards and have six touchdowns? That’s another story.”
Rodgers has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,325 yards and 12 touchdowns through four games. The Packers lead the NFL with an average of 37 points a game.
“His statistics through the first four games have just been unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “I just can’t say enough about Aaron Rodgers’ skill set and his ability.”
Rodgers takes the feats in stride.
“The only number that matters is the wins,” Rodgers said. “It might help you get awards, but it’s something you look at after the season. But yeah, we’re playing pretty well right now.”
The Packers, who drove for 507 yards of offense last week, meet an Atlanta defensive unit that surrendered four touchdowns and 372 yards in losing 30-28 to Seattle, which was averaging only 10 points a game until facing the Falcons.
“Some of his statistics through the first four games have just been unbelievable,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s almost completing three out of four passes. He has a lot of weapons that you have to try to defend.
“That’s the biggest concern for us, being able to slow these guys down.”
The Packers have not lost since falling 31-27 at New England last December in a game Rodgers missed with a concussion.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, sacked five times and intercepted twice by the Packers last January, will try to take advantage of a Green bay defensive unit ranked second-worst in the NFL against the pass, allowing 335.8 yards a game.
Sunday’s other games find Kansas City at Indianapolis, Arizona at Minnesota, Philadelphia at Buffalo, Oakland at Houston, New Orleans at Carolina, Seattle at the New York Giants, Cincinnati at Jacksonville, Tennessee at Pittsburgh, San Diego at Denver, the New York Jets at New England and Tampa Bay at fellow division leader San Francisco.
The Detroit Lions will risk their unbeaten record on Monday at Chicago while Washington, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas, Cleveland and Miami have a bye week.