Packers and Seahawks Face Big Challenges in Divisional Round

January 13, 2011 Updated: January 13, 2011

DIFFERENCE MAKER: Running back Michael Turner could cause major headaches for Green Bay's defense on Saturday.  (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Running back Michael Turner could cause major headaches for Green Bay's defense on Saturday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Green Bay Packers (11–6) and Seattle Seahawks (8–9) are both coming off of hugely emotional wins against the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints respectively, but neither team has the luxury to relax as they go on the road this week to face even bigger challenges in NFC Divisional round.

The Packers travel to the Georgia Dome on Saturday to take on the No.1 seeded NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons (13–3) while the Seahawks head to Soldier Field on Sunday where they face the second-seeded, NFC North champion Chicago Bears (11–5).

Packers at Falcons

Just as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned his first playoff win last week against Philadelphia, Atlanta’s third-year quarterback Matt Ryan will look to do the same against Green Bay.

Leading the best team in the NFC with the league’s fifth best offense, Ryan had outstanding regular season numbers throwing for 3,705 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Joining Ryan is an excellent cast of players including running back Michael Turner (1,371 yards rushing), tight end Tony Gonzalez (656 yards receiving), and wide receiver Roddy White (1,389 yards, 10 touchdowns).

Green Bay brings its rugged defense into the dome to try to slow down Ryan and the Falcons, but it won’t be easy. During his three-year career, Ryan has an impressive 20–2 home record.

But if any team can beat Atlanta, the Packers have as good a chance as anyone—they are clicking at the right time with plenty of momentum on their side, while the Falcons may have to deal with the sluggish effects of the bye week.

On paper, both teams are evenly matched. During the regular season, the Pack’s second-ranked defense limited teams to only 15 points, 194.2 passing yards, and 114.9 rushing yards per game.

If Atlanta’s rushing attack gets going early on the durable legs of Turner, it could take pressure off Ryan and allow him to settle in where he could be a real danger with his talented group of receivers.

If that happens, the Packers could be in trouble.

By the same token, if Green Bay’s offense does the same to Atlanta’s fifth-ranked defense, the Falcons could be the ones reeling. The Packers rediscovered the running game last week with James Starks and his 123 yards on the ground.

Against one of the league’s best defenses last week, the Pack generated 309 total yards and 138 rushing yards.

Green Bay will also have revenge on their minds as they lost a tough road game in Atlanta in November 20–17.

Game time: Sat., 8:00 ET at the Georgia Dome

Next: Seahawks at Bears