Packers, Falcons Have Common Characteristics

Article excerpt

There are some striking similarities between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers, opponents Sunday in a National Football Conference playoff game.

Each team has a potent, multi-pronged attack. Each has a tough but banged-up quarterback, and each has an assailed defense that could prove its undoing in the playoffs.

The Packers (11-5), who edged Pittsburgh 24-19 last week to gain their first NFC Central Division title in 23 years, are 9 1/2-point favorites over the visiting Falcons (9-7).

The weather forecast calls for a high of 30, with cloudy skies.

The field is in good shape. It was covered Saturday afternoon and was being protected by heating coils.

"It's not going to be a factor," Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren said.

Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre still is sore from the beating administered Sunday by Pittsburgh's Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene. Lloyd put a goal-line hit on Favre that made him spit up blood for 15 minutes.

But he hasn't missed any practice time and is fine for Sunday.

Atlanta quarterback Jeff George also was battered Sunday. He left the game against San Francisco with a sprained neck just before halftime after a hard hit from defensive end Tim Harris. George was replaced by Bobby Hebert.

George, who defiantly left the field pointing at Harris, said he's still sore but also will be ready to go Sunday.

"To this point in my career I haven't had this opportunity," said George, the top pick in the 1990 draft. "I'm not about to miss it."

Atlanta has a high-powered offense. But the Falcons, with little pass rush and a mistake-prone secondary, yielded an NFL-record 4,751 passing yards, numbers that prove extremely interesting to Favre.

"There's a possibility I could throw for 400 yards and lose," he said.

Inexperience makes Green Bay's pass defense vulnerable when it goes to extra defensive backs. …