TV Schedule: Sunday, January 22, 3:05 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: Georgia Dome
When the Green Bay Packers meet up with the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 NFC Championship, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks.
Not only could one of the quarterbacks end up winning the NFL MVP, but both are firing on all cylinders right now.
In just two postseason games, Aaron Rodgers already has — hold on to your seat — 718 passing yards and six touchdowns. He has one interception during that same span. If any team plans on knocking off the Packers, it has to find a way to contain Mr. Discount Double Check, or it could simply fight fire with fire.
If any team can outscore the Packers when Rodgers is on top of his game, it’s the Falcons. Why? Because Matt Ryan has been arguably the best player in the league in 2016.
Not only is Ryan’s Falcons averaging 33.8 points per game, which is the most in the NFL, but Ryan has managed to rack up 4,944 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. In comparison, Rodgers dropped 4,428 passing yards, 40 touchdown passes, and seven interceptions this season. The Packers averaged 27 points per contest.
Regarding the playoffs, Ryan racked up 338 passing yards and three scores against the Seattle Seahawks, a team that is known to have one of the most fierce defenses in the NFL.
Great quarterback play and winning streaks seem to be the theme of these conference championship games.
Not only is Green Bay riding an eight-game winning streak into the 2017 NFC Championship, but Atlanta is on its own five-game winning streak.
Another theme of the playoffs: Rematches. The Falcons and Packers met up on October 30, and Atlanta came out on top by the score of 33-32. In that high-scoring affair, Rodgers and Ryan combined for seven passing touchdowns (Rodgers had four, and Ryan had three) — just in case fans were wondering.
One might be wondering how these teams got here. In other words, what have their playoff journeys looked like thus far.
Green Bay has knocked off the New York Giants (the final score was 38-13) and top-seeded Dallas Cowboys by the score of 34-31. If the Packers can knock off Dallas at home, which they did, then they can certainly knock off any team in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Atlanta took down the Seahawks in their only game of the playoffs by the score of 36-20. If the Falcons can put up 36 points on Seattle, which they did, then they can torch any defense in the league.
At this stage of the game, any team could realistically win a Super Bowl. We live in a day and age where the NFL is a quarterback league, and four of the best quarterbacks in the game remain (Rodgers, Ryan, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger). All four teams are also red-hot, making every single clash a virtual coin flip, even though the home teams (Atlanta and the New England Patriots) have serious advantages.
Regarding who will come out on top in the 2017 NFC Championship, it very well could come down to which team has the ball last.
It remains to be seen if Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will make an appearance in this one, which could be a major difference-maker.
Nonetheless, fans should be in store for quite the treat, and points could come raining down early and often. So, who wins this game? That remains a mystery. While Atlanta has already knocked off Green Bay once this season and will be getting to play in front of its fans yet again, Rodgers is arguably the best player in football when he is playing, well, the way he has been playing lately.
PREDICTION: Packers 38, Falcons 35
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]