PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the first of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Five game against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome Sunday evening.
Packers CBs Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields vs. Falcons WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones
Green Bay's CB corps must come up with a much better collective effort handling Atlanta's White-Jones duo Sunday evening than it did last Sunday defending against Broncos WRs Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker, who had a combined 13 catches for 192 yards (14.8 yards per catch) and a pair of TDs in the Packers' 49-23 victory.
The Packers cornerbacks' spectacular effort against the Falcons wideouts in their last meeting — a 48-21 divisional playoff rout at Atlanta — has been well-documented, especially the performance of Williams, who had a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned for a back-breaking 70-yard TD. But then the Falcons were without Jones, their first-round pick in this year's draft.
Although White, who is coming off a huge 2010 campaign, is leading the Falcons in receptions through four games with 26 (two more than Jones) and has one TD (compared to none by Jones), Jones has been the team's best receiver with a team-leading 342 yards receiving (14.3 ypc), which is 40 more yards than White has accumulated. White has been under scrutiny for multiple uncharacteristic drops in the early going, but both he and Jones have the potential to wreak big-time havoc after combining for three 100-yard receiving performances in the last two games.
Jones, who followed up a 6-115 Week Three effort with a 11-127 outing in Atlanta's victory over Seattle last week, has proven to be very physical, doing a great job springing RB Michael Turner to paydirt on occasion. He could pose a special challenge for Williams, who is playing with a tender shoulder that keeps him from jamming receivers at the line.
Both Woodson, who had a team-leading six tackles and a sack in the playoff win over Atlanta, and Shields came up with pivotal interceptions last week against Denver, with Woodson returning his pick for an early 30-yard score. For Shields, it was his first real impact play of the year after having not played well at all and having had particular trouble tackling in the first three games.