Packers, Falcons both looking for 2-0 starts with young quarterbacks
GREEN BAY (1-0) at ATLANTA (1-0)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, FOX
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Packers by 1 1/2.
SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 19-16.
LAST MEETING: Packers beat Falcons 30-16 on Oct. 5, 2020, at Green Bay.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Packers 1-0, Falcons 1-0
PACKERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (T18), PASS (T7), SCORING (2)
PACKERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (19), RUSH (T25), PASS (16), SCORING (T14)
FALCONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (6), PASS (30), SCORING (T10)
FALCONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (28), PASS (7), SCORING (5)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Packers plus-2, Falcons plus-3
PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jordan Love did a solid job of making plays and avoiding mistakes against the Bears in just his second career start. The 2020 first-round pick from Utah State went 15 of 27 for 245 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while playing without injured Christian Watson, the Packers’ top returning receiver from last season. If Love continues playing at this level, the Packers have a chance to contend even in this season of transition from the Aaron Rodgers era.
FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Bijan Robinson showed why the Falcons defied conventional wisdom by taking him at No. 8 in the draft. The rookie scored his first career touchdown on a brilliant 11-yard play. He hauled in a swing pass, faked out one defender and smashed through two more on his way to the end zone. Robinson tacked on a 21-yard run that set up Atlanta’s go-ahead touchdown. Look for the Falcons to expand Robinson’s role even more as he gets more experience.
KEY MATCHUP: The Falcons’ running game vs. the Packers’ defensive front. Green Bay has typically ranked among the league’s worst teams in yards allowed per carry. But the Packers did a reasonably good job in the opener against a Chicago team that led the NFL in yards rushing per game last season. The Bears had 29 carries for 122 yards, but they didn’t have a run from scrimmage of more than 12 yards. Now the Packers have to face the one-two punch of Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, who combined for 131 yards rushing with an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
KEY INJURIES: Green Bay WR Christian Watson (hamstring) didn’t play in the opener. … RB Aaron Jones hurt a hamstring while scoring his second touchdown against the Bears. … LB Quay Walker was in concussion protocol early this week. … CB Eric Stokes (foot) is on the physically unable to perform list. … Falcons LB Troy Anderson was in the concussion protocol. … CB Jeff Okudah (foot) missed the opener and remained limited at practice. … RB Cordarrelle Patterson (thigh) returned to full participation and was expected to play after sitting out in Week 1.
SERIES NOTES: The Packers won the past two games between the teams, both at Lambeau Field. The Falcons’ most recent victory over Green Bay was a 34-23 triumph in Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2017 — the first NFL game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. These have generally been high-scoring affairs, with the winning team averaging more than 36 points a game in the past six meetings.
STATS AND STUFF: The Packers own an 11-3 September record since coach Matt LaFleur’s arrival in 2019. … The Packers have allowed 20 points or fewer in each of their past six games, a streak that began last season. That’s their longest such streak since 2010, when they also held six straight opponents to fewer than 21 points. … The Packers played 12 rookies in the Bears game. That’s the most rookies the Packers have started in a season opener since 1952, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Packers DL Devonte Wyatt, a 2022 first-round pick from Georgia, had 1 1/2 sacks against the Bears to match his season total from last year. … Packers LB Quay Walker, another 2022 first-round pick from Georgia, scored his first career touchdown Sunday with a 37-yard interception return. … K Anders Carlson had a 52-yard field goal at Chicago in his NFL debut. Carlson is taking over for Mason Crosby, the Packers’ leading career scorer. … Packers RB Aaron Jones had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch against the Bears. WR Romeo Doubs also scored twice in the season opener. … Atlanta is above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2017 season. … LT Jake Matthews made his 145th consecutive start in the opener, passing Todd McClure for the second-longest streak in Falcons history. Matt Ryan holds the franchise record with 154 starts in a row. Matthews is also the NFL’s active leader in consecutive starts. … QB Desmond Ridder completed 15 of 18 passes in the opener, but most of them were short throws that didn’t do a lot of damage. He finished with just 115 yards and only one completion longer than 17 yards. … On the plus side, Ridder has yet to throw an interception in his first five career starts. That ties him with Dak Prescott for the most pick-free starts to begin a career. … S Jessie Bates immediately established himself as a leader on the defensive side in his first game with the Falcons. He had two interceptions, forced a fumble and was in on a team-high 10 tackles. … Allgeier scored a pair of touchdowns against the Panthers. … DE Calais Campbell has 99 sacks, leaving him one away from becoming the sixth active player with 100.
FANTASY TIP: With Watson sidelined against the Bears, WR Romeo Doubs scored a pair of touchdowns. The 2022 fourth-round pick from Nevada is likely still on the waiver wire in many leagues and merits a pickup.
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