If I’m the Falcons, I’m rooting for Dallas – and against Aaron Rodgers

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Yeah, it’d be nice to give these folks one last shout. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

This is a tough one, but in my mind it comes down to this: Would you rather face a rookie quarterback at his place or Aaron Rodgers at yours? Me, I’d rather not face Aaron Rodgers anywhere, least of all in the Georgia Dome in January. Been there, done that.

There’s not much to say about the Atlanta Falcons’ emphatic dismissal that I haven’t said elsewhere on myajc.com, so now we turn our attention to the next hurdle. The Packers play the Cowboys in Dallas — in Arlington, actually — tomorrow. If Dallas wins, the NFC championship game is there. If Green Bay wins, it’s here. Me, I think Green Bay will win.

If we’re going by history — admittedly this is a small sample size — the Falcons are better in NFC title tilts on the road than at home. They’re 1-1 elsewhere, losing in Philadelphia in January 2005 but winning, somehow, against the 15-1 Vikings of Cunningham and Moss in overtime on Jan. 17, 1999. (Gary Anderson missed. Morten Andersen didn’t. Still amazing.)

The only NFC championship game staged here saw the Falcons lead the 49ers 17-0 and lose. That’s as bad a memory as this Dome has. It would be nice, kind of, if the doomed building got set out (meaning demolished) on a high, but if your aiming at the Super Bowl, you don’t really care where the launch pad is situated.

I asked Dan Quinn if he was rooting for Green Bay. His answer: “I don’t know yet.” (When would he know? Next Friday?) Then: “For the fans, I kind of (am). It would be nice to come back one last time.”

And it would, in theory. But the only way for the Dome to play host to another game is if Rodgers is on the opposing side, and that’s frightening. The Falcons moved heaven and earth to beat the Packers here in October, and that was Green Bay without Randall Cobb and without a bona fide running threat. (It was, however, Green Bay with Jordy Nelson, who will miss tomorrow’s game.)

As great as Tom Brady is, there’s something terrifying about Rodgers. We all recall what he did here in January 2011 — wild card Packers 48, No. 1 seed Falcons 21 — and he’s the only quarterback who actually expects to complete Hail Marys. (Probably because he has three times in a little over a year.)

Dallas is a very good team, but AT&T Stadium isn’t a terribly intimidating site. Both teams have since changed, but the Falcons blew out the Cowboys in the second half there last September. The wine-and-cheese crowd didn’t seem overly upset. Word is that Jerry World has become more raucous this year, but still: It isn’t Oakland’s Black Hole.

I’d take my chances with Arlington if the alternative is Aaron. (How’s that for alliteration?) The Dome was loud and proud Sunday — “That’s got to be as loud as it’s ever been in here,” Matt Ryan said — but Saturday’s game would be a nice farewell. When you beat the best NFC team of the past five years by 16 points, that’s a drop-the-mic farewell.

From Saturday’s AJC: Don’t fret over these Falcons. They’re too good to flop.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

Well... We got Aaron Rodgers at the Dome after all. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RodneyHo

Falcons have their work cut out for them, but either way--in ATL or at Dallas--was gonna be a major challenge.

JuliusD
JuliusD

I want GB in the Dome


TOJacket
TOJacket

@JuliusD After watching Rogers tonight I think I'll take my chances at Jerry's house.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

"Rodgers," dummy--and you won't get those chances.

Pack coming back--to ATL.

Can Falcons pull off a season sweep?!

TomGaff
TomGaff

Watching tonite's game looks like it will be GB? Rodgers looks terrific, it will be tough but interesting!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

You root for the home game. Period.

slydawg
slydawg

This morning, I felt the same way as MB... But now, screw that. Bring on anyone. The Falcons are the best team in the NFC and have been since their bye week. The Packers are seriously flawed and have only their splendid quarterback.

The young defense needs to take note of all their mistakes against Seattle yesterday and keep things simple:

Keep all receivers in front of them and force Rodgers to dip and dunk.

Don't play press man with the safties (That's on you Smith and Quinn)

The Packers have no running game.

Our defense is way faster and more physical than Dallas.

Our offense is more versatile, and just as physical as Dallas. The Falcons can run the ball and eat clock.

Can the Packers keep the pace with the Falcons? The teams they have beaten during their current 8 game win streak could not score in bunches, nor on consecutive drives, something the Falcons have done all season.

This is not the time to punk out and be afraid of any team. Certainly not a team that started 4-6 for a reason and you will be playing at home, in dome, with lots and lots of noise.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@slydawg: "The Packers are seriously flawed and have only their splendid quarterback."

________________

You sure about that?

You wouldn't know it based on the way they're pounding Dallas at the moment.

Joseph Wike
Joseph Wike

Yeah, tie game... pounding? GB is good, not as great as everyone thinks.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Joseph Wike

Yeah, POUNDING! 

They had an three-TD lead when I posted that. DUH!

And they were damn sure great enough to beat Dallas on the road.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

If it's your time it doesn't matter Matt Ryan I feel can beat either one of them. It comes down to do you prefer to play at home or on the road. Atlanta is pretty good on the road....

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

I totally agree. If Rodgers comes here to Atlanta, and I'm betting that he will, the Falcons' chances of getting to the big dance will fall off the edge of the cliff. It will be a tough game, but Ryan can beat Dallas. But, the version of a quarterback toward which he is still evolving (Rodgers), and still has a ways to go, will not beat Rodgers in the constant excellent passing conditions that are, and have always been, a part of the Dome's "charm." 

Joseph Wike
Joseph Wike

Our defense is better now than it was in week 6 which will give our offense every opportunity to score more than the Packers in this game (should the Pack win). No team can stop our offense.

Poledawg83
Poledawg83

rather have gb in atlanta.  the dallas run game and defense scares me more.  the best way to beat atlanta is to hang onto the ball.


yes, gb would get some points but their d isn't going to slow us down especially at home.

DawgNole
DawgNole

MB: "This is a tough one, but in my mind it comes down to this: Would you rather face a rookie quarterback at his place or Aaron Rodgers at yours?

________________

A tough one indeed. Can't make up my own mind, personally. Either one will be difficult at best.

Do you want to face a red-hot NFL elite QB with revenge (for the loss in ATL) on his mind but a home crowd behind you?

Or do you want to hit the road to face another surprise contender (with multiple championships in its history) that has earned the conference's top seed?

Hey, they never said the path to the SB would be free and easy.

TideDawg
TideDawg

New England.....poised, talented, well coached, and a winning pedigree. Hard to beat that combination, but Kansas City has coaching, balance, and a burning desire to beat NE, that's another side of the "hard to beat" scenario. I think the finals of each division will prove to be the best games of this decade. In fact, the college football NC game between Alabama/Clemson, the playoff games in the NFL for the right to play in the Super Bowl, and whoever is in the Super Bowl will go down as the greatest ending ever in football sports history.....all games considered.

FJ10
FJ10

ALWAYS pick the opposite of Mark Bradley.  Especially in big games.  He should be like George Costanza and pick the opposite of what he thinks.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Disagree with rooting for Dallas. I think they are the best balanced team. There's no questioning  Rodgers' ability but the Falcons can outscore Greenbay in a shootout. Dallas, on the other hand, is evenly balanced with the best running back in pro football. Atlanta will have to score every time they get the ball in order to beat a balanced Dallas team. Either team that gets up by 2 scores during the game will probably win it.


In regard to the match up in the Super Bowl if the Falcons make it.....who cares...just get there! If the Falcons don't make it....who cares which teams are there....it will be a great game, but a little depressing if it's not the Falcons.

mikefino888
mikefino888

Rogers is amazing but the team I see now is a different beast. Win the game Green Bay and come the ---- on !! The fear should be in the OTHER guy

swimfin2
swimfin2

NE looked like crap yesterday. They are easily beatable. And predictable. 2 more wins and a SB. This is the year it finally happens

TideDawg
TideDawg

@swimfin2 New England....easily beatable!!! You've been grazing on loco weed. As long as Brady is QB there's nothing easy about NE. I'd like to see a match up between Brady & Ryan.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@swimfin2: "2 more wins and a SB."

_________________

Nope.

ONE more win and a SB.

TWO more wins and a first-ever NFL title for a championship-starved city!

Bring it, Falcons!!! 

swimfin2
swimfin2

You moron. You want a home game. It's as simple as that.

Dadde
Dadde

Sorry but I'd rather be sitting in the Georgia Dome next week. Go Pack Go!!

Bug
Bug

By the way, only time I ever have cried (tears) after a game.

Bug
Bug

they could win or lose either game, but if I had my choice I would choose beating Americans team in Dallas. That would take some of the sting out of the 1980 loss in Fulton County.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Bug

Good point.

That 1980 loss was as bad for the franchise as last night's was good.

ATL's looooooooooong-suffering fans certainly deserve another home game, though.

Tough, tough call either way.

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

What happened to Jimmy Graham's shushing the crowd?  In fact, what happened to Jimmy Graham?  Great win Falcons.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Sorry....I hate Aaron Rogers but it's to our best advantage to be at home.....RISE UP!!!!

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

You off your rocker Bradley........always, always choose home in the playoffs.  Home field is huge.  

Bob Bruce
Bob Bruce

Rogers is tough, but who is not this time of year? If I wete the Falcons, I would say,Bring em on. Who is playing better than thhe Falcons now? Besides, if they nakke it, they probably have to face New England. Brady is the best, next to Ryan this year. Play here if you can. Dont run away now. Take whoever you draw. They can do it.

dawg4u
dawg4u

This is a definite problem deciding who I would rather face - Green Bay at home with the great veteran Rodgers or Dallas on the road with a rookie QB.  I think at this point that the Falcons offense can outscore any other offense in the NFL so I'll go with facing the Packers at home. The Atl offense now is far superior to the one in Jan 2011 against the Packers and our D is making more plays now than earlier in the season.  Atl 41 - GB 38 is my NFC prediction final.

NuzeFan
NuzeFan

Mark, Amen, brother. And, don't forget this: the NFC Championship should be between the #1 and #2 teams of the year. I would really like to see how this Falcons team stacks up against the vaunted Cowboys.

atlfalconno1fan
atlfalconno1fan

i would rather take chances in a loud Georgia dome..and sqeak out a win against green bay

Shrinker
Shrinker

You always want to play at home...period. Don't over-think this issue.