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PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the second of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Five game against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome Sunday evening.
Packers TE Jermichael Finley vs. Falcons safeties William Moore, Thomas DeCoud and James Sanders
in their two games against the Packers last season, Atlanta's safeties did not have to worry about Finley, who was out of commission because of a season-ending torn meniscus suffered in Week Five. Coming off a pretty shaky outing against the Seahawks, all three safeties could have a huge problem against the 6-foot-5 Finley, who will enjoy a significant size advantage. DeCoud, who has been giving up more time to Sanders recently, is Atlanta's biggest safety at 6-foot-½.
After being showcased in the Week Three win over the Bears in his first-ever three-TD performance at any level, Finley became more of a decoy last week against Denver, catching three of the six passes thrown his way for 28 yards with a long of 16 while Aaron Rodgers concentrated more on spreading the wealth to the Packers' wideouts. It would not be a shock if Rodgers switches gears again this week and makes completions to Finley, both inside and outside, much more of a priority.
The Falcons generally have been sitting back in two- and three-deep zones so far this season on pass defense, and none of the safeties has really distinguished himself except for one tremendous play last week by Sanders defending against Seahawks TE Zach Miller in the third quarter. Miller appeared to have a sure TD catch from Tarvaris Jackson until Sanders slammed into him with great ferocity, causing the ball to pop out of Miller's hands and into the hands of DeCoud.
Moore took over as Atlanta's starting strong safety last season and emerged as a hard hitter with playmaking potential (team-leading eight tackles vs. Seattle). But he has a tendency to get beaten deep and has durability issues. DeCloud, a third-round pick in 2008 who has an interception each of the past two weeks, covers a lot of ground in coverage but sometimes struggles to make tackles in the open field.