As I indicated earlier this week in a Wednesday post, I have a strong sense that this Packers-Falcons game is going to be very much like the last Packers-Falcons game in Week 12, which went right down to the wire before Atlanta prevailed 20-17 on Matt Bryant’s 47-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining. There will be one potentially major difference in this game, however: James Starks. If the Packers’ rookie running back comes out of the gate like he did against the Eagles last week, the Falcons could be in trouble. But because the Falcons are so well-coached, I suspect they will be more than a little prepared for Starks, which might negate the same kind of early impact he made in Philly.
It will be much later in the game, however, when I see Starks making his presence felt more, gaining yardage after initial hits in much the same manner as Atlanta’s Michael Turner in Week 12. I’m not saying the run games are going to dominate this contest by any means. I think both Falcons WR Roddy White, who wasn’t much of a factor in the first game, and Packers WR Greg Jennings, who was limited to only one catch last week, will have decent games with plenty of big-play receptions in the Saturday-night mix. But at the end of the night, a big run from Starks — probably with a big block from FB Quinn Johnson — is going to send the Packers to Soldier Field a week from Sunday for a matchup that will garner one of the all-time monster TV ratings.
Prediction: Packers 30, Falcons 24 (in overtime)