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Packers-Falcons matchup of the day: Saturday

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week 12 game between the Packers and Falcons in Atlanta.

Packers' receiving corps vs. Falcons' secondary

With the red-hot Greg Jennings setting the pace on the road to what is starting to look like his first Pro Bowl berth (32 catches for 520 yards and six TDs in his last five games), the Packers’ passing game has really come alive with the second half of the season starting to heat up. No. 3 receiver James Jones (11-174-2 the last two games) has also been really dangerous lately.

The same can’t be said of veteran No. 2 WR Donald Driver, who has been hindered by a thigh injury; Jordy Nelson, who has been overshadowed lately in the No. 3 role by Jones; and especially the Packers’ tight ends, who combined for only two catches for 14 yards last week against Minnesota. But with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers looking like he is in a real zone all of a sudden, any one of his weapons could be a factor against the Falcons’ vulnerable defensive backs, including even little-used Brett Swain, who has begun to make his presence felt in Green Bay’s “Big Five” formation.

But Rodgers and his receivers better not get too full of themselves against the Falcons’ feisty secondary. While Atlanta’s pass defense is ranked 24th in total passing yards allowed and 25th in average gain per pass play, its risk-taking approach has been successful more often than not, as evidenced by Atlanta's No. 3 ranking in interception percentage.

Although high-priced free-agent addition Dunta Robinson, who has excellent speed and toughness, is widely considered Atlanta’s top cover corner, scrappy little CB Brent Grimes (six interceptions last year; three so far this year) has proven to be a very smart defender who better not be taken for granted.

The same goes for SS William Moore, a second-round pick last year who has made major strides in his second season with a team-leading four picks after being a relative nonfactor as a rookie. Moore was Johnny-on-the-spot last week with a key late interception of an ill-advised Sam Bradford shovel pass in the Falcons’ win over the Rams.

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