Whom Do You Fear? - Week 14 Preview

The Packers squeaked out a win against Atlanta last year. This year, the Falcons may not be able to keep it close.

A good measure of a team is how many of the players would legitimately scare the opposing team.

For instance, the Patriots were a legitimately scary organization. Rob Gronkowski could smash through just about any defense and not notice that they were there. Darrelle Revis could make half the field invisible. Tom Brady was Tom Brady.

The Falcons are less blessed with talent, but before we talk about this year's Falcons, let's talk about the 2010 edition.

Those Falcons had NINE Pro Bowlers. No, seriously, check Pro Football Reference. I'll wait. You're back? Good. Yeah, the Falcons had a lot of scary players that year. Roddy White was at the height of his powers. Matt Ryan made the first of his two Pro Bowls. Michael Turner was still "The Burner." Tony Gonzalez was still doing otherworldly old man things. And that was just on offense. On the other side of the ball, John Abraham racked up 13 sacks and Brent Grimes patrolled the secondary. Even on special teams, Eric Weems sprinted his way to Honolulu as a first rate return man.

But in football years, that was forever ago, and the Falcons' roster shows the passage of time has not been kind. Matt Ryan has plateaued, Tony Gonzalez has retired, Roddy White is a shell of his former self, and both John Abraham and Brent Grimes have moved on. The Falcons find themselves banking on a few youngsters and the hope of a playoff run.

A couple of those youngsters, though, may be good enough to at least make this game interesting. Julio Jones, the man for whom the Falcons paid a king's ransom in draft picks to get, is showing that despite an oddly pronounced first name, he might almost be worth the 47 (approximate) draft picks Atlanta used to trade up to get him. He has 82 catches through his first 13 games this season and is dangerous enough to tilt the Packers' secondary.

In Atlanta's secondary, Desmond Trufant may already be a star, even if nobody knows it. On a pretty miserable defensive unit overall, Trufant is carving out a niche as an elite cover corner. No, seriously. Pro Football Focus has him rated as their sixth best cornerback. While he may not get much help, don't be surprised if the Packers do what they can to avoid him. There are plenty of other places to attack.

Overall, though, two players may not be enough to keep it close. Atlanta will need their absolute best effort to avoid getting run out of Lambeau. Their secondary gives up too many yards and doesn't get enough pressure to make Aaron Rodgers break a sweat. I think the Packers win this one going away.

Packers - 34 Falcons - 17

Jon Meerdink