Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2023 Week 2

The Packers sit at 1-0 heading into Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. It’s always nice to remind the Bears that they still suck, and now the Packers travel south to Georgia to take on some dirty birds. Here are six things to keep in mind heading into Sunday’s matchup. 

1. Youth Movement 

Yes, I know it’s only been one week of regular season football. I don’t care, John. Let’s talk about how wild it is that when Jordan Love and Desmond Ridder take the field on Sunday, they’ll be doing so as the two quarterbacks with the highest passer ratings in the NFL at 123.2 and 111.8, respectively. Love will be making his third career start while Ridder makes his sixth start. 

In Week 1, Love went 15-of-27 for 245 yards and three touchdowns, averaging over nine yards per attempt. Ridder wasn’t given as many opportunities to sling it, (and when he did he mostly threw screen passes), but he did go 15-of-18 for 115 yards with one touchdown, giving him a completion percentage of 83.3%. 

Ridder is only averaging 6.4 yards gained per attempt through the air, and he’s laser focused on his running back tandem whe he does throw the ball. Tight end Kyle Pitts only had three targets in Week 1, and receiver Drake London was only targeted once (it was an incompletion). To really open up the offense and utilize all of Atlanta’s weapons, Head Coach Arthur Smith is going to have to start letting Ridder throw the ball. 

2. Two Back Attack

We were just talking about Ridder’s backfield, and rightfully so. Why did he only throw for 115 yards last Sunday, you ask? Well, because he’s got two dynamic running backs at his disposal. The Falcons spent their first round pick in this year’s draft on Bijan Robinson, and he looked the part in Week 1. He eased into things on the ground with 10 attempts for 56 yards (5.6 yards per attempt) while adding six receptions for 27 yards and one receiving touchdown. 

Tyler Allgeier was the bell cow in the backfield with 15 rushing attempts for 75 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a 5.0 yards per carry average. He also hauled in three receptions which tied for second on the team with Mack Hollins behind only Robinson. 

The Packers defense held Bears rushers to 4.0 yards per carry or less in Week 1, but the run defense will face a stiffer test on Sunday in Atlanta. What makes this backfield even more dangerous is the likely addition of “Joker” Cordarrelle Patterson. The hybrid receiver/running back was inactive Week 1 but has been a full participant in practice all week. Patterson finished the 2022 season with 817 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns, the second best season of his career behind only his 1,166 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021.

3. Flying Around 

Get it, because they’re the Falcons? Anyway, Atlanta’s secondary looks completely revamped in 2023. Not only did the Falcons bring in safety Jessie Bates in free agency, but they also have familiar face Jerry Gray as assistant head coach/defense. Packers players raved about Gray, a four-time Pro Bowler during his nine-year NFL career, during his time in Green Bay, and he seems to have already made a mark in Atlanta. 

Bates made his presence known in his first game as a Falcon, snagging two interceptions and forcing one fumble in his debut. That performance earned him an elite 94.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus with a 92.9 coverage grade. If that wasn’t enough, Bates is also tied for team lead with 10 total tackles through Week 1. 

All-Pro cornerback A.J. Terrell is also roaming the secondary, and the Falcons hope he’ll be joined by free agent acquisition Jeff Okudah sooner rather than later, though his status for Sunday remains up in the air with a foot injury. 

If you aren’t convinced Atlanta’s secondary is legit, that’s fair. In Week 1, the unit faced off against rookie Bryce Young who was making his first NFL start. He went 20-of-38 for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 48.8. That said, Love is going to need to be careful with the football again on Sunday, something he did a good job of last week against Chicago. 

4. Spread the Love

Speaking of Love and what he’s got to do with it, he did a nice job in Week 1 spreading the ball around. No one on offense had more than five targets against the Bears. Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs led the team with five targets each while Aaron Jones and Luke Musgrave followed closely behind with four targets apiece. 

The Falcons boast a much better defensive line than the Bears, but where Atlanta did struggle in Week 1 is run defense. The Falcons gave up 32 rushing attempts for 154 yards, a 4.8 yards per carry average against the Panthers. 

Against the Bears, the Packers didn’t need to run the ball a ton and averaged only 2.9 yards per carry with 92 yards on 32 attempts. Love was getting things done through the air. That said,  Jones is nursing a hamstring injury and his status for Sunday is up in the air. If he can’t go, the Packers will need a big day from AJ Dillon on the ground. Having gained only 19 yards on 13 rushing attempts in Week 1 (1.5 yards per carry), you know Dillon is going to be champing at the bit for a bounce-back performance in Week 2. 

5. Divine D-Line 

Did it finally happen? Have our prayers been answered? Is the Kenny Clark shrine in my basement paying off? The big man in the middle might finally have some help. In Week 1, the Packers tallied four sacks and had a whopping 48.8% quarterback pressure percentage. That means that of the 74 offensive snaps Justin Fields played last Sunday, he felt pressure on 36 of them. 

Let’s break down a chunk of those numbers in more detail, because it’s an especially impressive showing from the 2023 rookie class. Against Fields, a mobile quarterback able to extend plays, the leader in the clubhouse was 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt with six pressures, followed by Lukas Van Ness and Rashan Gary with five, Colby Wooden and Kenny Clark with four, and Karl Brooks and Preston Smith with three. A round of applause for General Manager Brian Gutekunst.

Against Carolina, Ridder was sacked 4 times last week on only 22 dropbacks. The Panthers generated a 19.2% quarterback pressure rate and still managed to get home four times. The Packers will certainly have opportunities to do the same on Sunday and rattle the young quarterback, even with players like Gary on a snap count. Especially if they bring the heat the way they did against the Bears. Shoutout to you, Joe Barry? Maybe that move to the booth is going to pay off. 

6. There’s Benz Some History

With the Packers traveling south to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 2, this is tied for the earliest visit to Atlanta in team history (the other time was Week 2 in 2017; we don’t have to talk about it). This is only the second time Green Bay will play in the new(ish) Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Interestingly enough, the Packers have won the last two matchups against the Falcons and have scored 30 or more points in both contests, with both matchups taking place at Lambeau Field. However, the Falcons have won the last three games played in Atlanta (including the postseason, which, again, we don’t have to talk about). Per the dope sheet, the last four matchups between these two teams have been decided by double digits. 

The Falcons and Packers last played during the 2020 season at Lambeau, a matchup Green Bay won 30-16. In that game, Aaron Rodgers threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns, with three of those touchdowns going to tight end Robert Tonyan. Life comes at you fast, and rosters change even faster. (Seriously though, heal up, #12. I want to see you play football again.)

What I’ll be drinking for the game: 

It’s me, hi, I’m the craft beer drinker it’s me. It was suggested that I should start a little section below each six pack where I mention what beer I’ll have on deck for that week’s Packers game. My goal for this week against Atlanta is to find some Carry the G in my area! If I can’t, though, I’ll be drinking my favorite Oktoberfest, Staghorn from New Glarus. It’s a mainstay in my fridge the entirety of fall. 

Leave me some beer suggestions and I’ll try to find them! And, if we’re both lucky, it’ll be featured in this section later on in the season. Cheers!





Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.


10 points

Comments (11)

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mnbadger's picture

September 15, 2023 at 12:23 pm

Another week of great picks Maggie, thank you.
Beer suggestion - anything from Schell's brewery in New Ulm MN. their Oktoberfest is a classic as all of their offerings are. This is the oldest continuing brewery west of the Mississippi River and it's easy to see why.
Best way to enjoy it is to have it drawn off one of the kegs in the tap room then head outside to enjoy the camaraderie with the polka band and other revelers!
Pack 30 - 24.

2 points
LambeauPlain's picture

September 15, 2023 at 12:32 pm

Nice article, Maggie. Really enjoy reading your work.

I forgot Jerry Gray is Assist. HC/D for the Falcons. Yikes. He could not stand Barry Ball. And he knows it very well and is certainly helping the Falcon O coaches plan for it.

If I was MLF and Assist. H/C of their own, Bisaccia, I would be asking Barry: "So Joe, these situations (3rd and long, RZ, 1st and goal, etc), what would Jerry expect you to do?" Then tell Joe not to do it. Game plan his D strategy away from last year's tendencies.

Regarding AJD, I will plead again to MLF who will not read this pleading: Please do not run Dillon from shotgun, on a draw play, handoff standing still. He needs the ball running downhill. Please!

6 points
Sapgooey's picture

September 15, 2023 at 01:48 pm

Good stuff, Maggie.

I can’t wait to see how the run games go for both these teams. Should be a real test for our defense!
As a Packer fan in the Atlanta area I’ll be flying my “Packers” flag on game day annoying most of my neighbors.

4 points
fireball's picture

September 15, 2023 at 03:02 pm

Seems like Atlanta will be a nice test for the Packers.

2 points
Ruppert's picture

September 15, 2023 at 03:44 pm

Good article. This should be a good test. ATL has some talent but I don't really know how good they are or if they are any good at all.

2 points
PeteK's picture

September 15, 2023 at 04:54 pm

MacDuffie and Wilson gave us a good LB rotation and should greatly help against their running game. Also, if Carolina can run on the Falcons we should fair even better with our better O line.

2 points
ricky's picture

September 15, 2023 at 05:37 pm

Speaking of Love. In the first half, his passing was seven completions in sixteen attempts for 81 yards. In the second half, he went eight for eleven, and more than doubled his production with 164 yards. In short, he improved as the game went on. The stats are from CBS.

2 points
BuckyBadger's picture

September 15, 2023 at 10:59 pm

Maggie has put out good content for a couple of years. I handicap games and pay for a lot of content and she is as good as anyone.

1 points
TxFred's picture

September 16, 2023 at 08:43 am

MLF needs to use plays designed for AJ. Under center, up close. Not 5-7 deep. The OL can't keep the holes open long enough. Quick openers & AJ will have a field day. Let's hope. GPG !!!!

1 points
Cheddarhed's picture

September 16, 2023 at 11:57 am

Great a game at the big sphincter. ( Don't tell me you don't think that when you see an above view). Good test for the pack, injuries are a bit of a concern though.
I will be drinking a homemade Oktoberfest during the game. Cheers! Go Pack Go!!

1 points
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

September 17, 2023 at 03:08 am

I've gotten Oktoberfest earlier than ever this year and have tried everything I've seen. New Glarus tastes the best of them on its own. With brats or anything salty I like any of them fine, but I might get burned out on them before October, lol.

🍻 Here's to 2-0, GPG!

1 points