The Green Bay Packers' playoff hopes are on life support and might not survive another week without Aaron Rodgers as they prepare for Sunday's visit by the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay's quarterback will sit out a fifth consecutive game due to a broken collarbone and the Packers are winless since he was injured Nov. 4, falling two games behind NFC North leader Detroit in the win column. The Falcons are not in the playoff picture but are looking for their first back-to-back victories in a season gone wrong.
Rodgers returned to practice on a limited basis this week, providing a slight hope that he would return to the lineup, but the team ruled him out on Friday. "Aaron Rodgers is not ready to go," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. Matt Flynn, who took the starter's reps in practice, is likely to have success against a Falcons defense that has allowed 30 or more points six times this season, including four of the past five games. TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Packers -7. O/U: 47.5.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (3-9): Not much has gone right for Atlanta, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where it ranks 20th against the pass and 30th against the run. Matt Ryan and the passing game have put up decent numbers, but mostly out of necessity. The Falcons rank 29th in the league in rushing (81.1 yards per game) and have played from behind most of the season.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (5-6-1): Green Bay boasts some impressive offensive numbers - most of them compiled with Rodgers healthy - but the Packers put up a pitiful 126 total yards in a 40-10 loss to Detroit on Thanksgiving. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy has been tough to stop at times, but he was limited to 16 yards on 10 carries against the Lions. The defense has struggled throughout the season and was especially bad last week, allowing season highs in total yards (561) and points (40) despite forcing four turnovers.
1. The Packers have won 12 straight regular-season home games in December and January, the longest active streak in the league.
2. Atlanta is 34-2 when Ryan starts and has a rating of 100 or better.
3. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez has a reception in 207 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in NFL history.
PREDICTION: Packers 24, Falcons 20