Any win on the road in the playoffs is a great accomplishment, but the Packers will have to play a lot better than they did against the Eagles to beat Atlanta next Saturday. Not only are the Falcons a very good team, but they’ll be a very well-rested team. Atlanta is coming off a bye (two byes if you count their season finale against the hapless Panthers). Conversely, Green Bay will have only six days to prepare for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. It won’t be easy to advance – it never is for the 6 seed – but the Packers have already proven that they can stand toe-to-toe with the Falcons. To go from standing toe-to-toe to actually winning, however, will take a near-flawless performance – a compound adjective that certainly wouldn’t apply to Sunday’s gutsy victory at Philadelphia.
The Packers can’t put the ball on the ground four times and drop an easy touchdown if they expect to beat Atlanta. There’s a reason the Falcons are the top seed – they don’t hurt themselves and they don’t help their opponents. Green Bay found that out the hard way in a last-second loss on Nov. 28. Despite outgaining Atlanta 418-244, the Packers turned the ball over twice – including a fumble going into the end zone that completely changed momentum – and committed eight penalties for 66 yards.
The No. 6 seed rarely has much of a chance against the No. 1 seed, but that’s certainly not the case this season. Green Bay, even with all of its injuries, matches up pretty darn well with Atlanta. If the front seven can control Michael Turner and if the offensive tackles can keep John Abraham away from the quarterback, this is a very winnable game. But a winnable game is different from actually winning the game – something the Packers will only be able to do if they limit their mistakes. Mike McCarthy’s resilient bunch of warriors won on Sunday without their “A” game. They’ll need it next week.