Packers-Falcons ‘what if's'

Things will go well if ...

1. The Falcons take their lunch money. The offensive line has to bully the Packers' defensive front to make some holes for Michael Turner and Jason Snelling to run. Turner rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries in the Falcons' 20-17 victory Nov. 28. Right guard Harvey Dahl did a good job of jumping all over Green Bay inside linebacker A.J. Hawk.

2. Roddy gets free. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers put Roddy White in wide-receiver jail in the last game. He mixed up coverages and minimized White's impact. Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and safety Nick Collins all had a role in keeping White under control, and he caught only five passes for 49 yards. Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey must devise formations and motions to get White some favorable matchups.

3. The Falcons stop Starks. The Falcons held the Packers to 77 yards rushing Nov. 28. They stuffed running backs Brandon Jackson and Dimitri Nance and forced Rodgers to scramble 12 times for 51 yards. Green Bay's James Starks, who rushed for 123 yards Sunday against Philadelphia, didn't play.

4. They tackle the receivers. The Packers throw a lot of quick passes out of their modified West Coast offense and expect their receivers to get yards after the catch. If the Falcons blitz, they will force quick throws, but the defensive backs must come up and tackle, especially on slant routes.

5. Weems gets loose. Special-teams star Eric Weems has turned into a force in the return game. He knows how to use his blockers and has enough speed to go the distance. He has returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns this season, but more important, he will be key in helping to establish good field position for the offense.

Things will look bleak if ...

1. Dr. Rodgers makes a house call. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers cut up the Falcons' secondary like a surgeon Nov. 28 as he passed for 344 yards and ran for 51. The Packers had two drives stall inside the 4-yard line. He rallied them with a late fourth-quarter drive, in which he made two fourth-down conversions. The secondary and the pass rush will be on the spot.

2. Clay Matthews achieves atonement. Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo manhandled Matthews in the first meeting. Clabo held the much-hyped Matthews, who had 13.5 sacks and is headed to the Pro Bowl, sackless. Right guard Harvey Dahl must be ready for when the Packers try to loop or twist Matthews inside for a sack.

3. Starks is not a fluke. James Starks played at Buffalo, where he became the school's all-time leading rusher. However, he didn't play in 2009 because of a shoulder injury and slipped into the sixth round of the draft. He was a quarterback in high school. Starks missed the majority of this season with a hamstring injury and was brought along slowly by Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett. If he's the real deal, the Packers' offense will be much more difficult to stop.

4. The Packers rip off long gainers. What do Brett Swain, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Andrew Quarless have in common? They all had a gain of at least 19 yards against the Falcons on Nov. 28. Swain broke loose for a 46-yard gain. Jennings, a Pro Bowler, had gains of 35, 34 and 30 yards as he caught five passes for 119 yards. Falcons nickel back Christopher Owens likely will get the call since Brian Williams didn't practice all week with a knee injury. The Falcons may be forced to play zone.

5. B.J. Raji says hello to his old classmate. Green Bay nose tackle B.J. Raji played at Boston College, and his career overlapped with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Center Todd McClure did a good job of keeping Raji under control in the previous matchup. Raji can be a destructive force in the middle of Green Bay's 3-4 defense.

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