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Friday, January 14, 2011
Final Word: Packers at Falcons

By Kevin Seifert

Divisional Final Word: Ravens-Steelers | Jets-Patriots | Packers-Falcons | Seahawks-Bears

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's Packers-Falcons divisional game:

Tony Gonzalez
Will Tony Gonzalez be able to repeat the performance he had against the Packers in Week 12?
Odds: Much of our coverage this week, available through this handy "Return to Atlanta" filter, has suggested the Green Bay Packers have a genuine opportunity to upset the NFC's top-seeded team. Even as oddsmakers established the Atlanta Falcons as a slim 1-point favorite, that tone created considerable consternation among some Falcons fans I've heard from. So we should at least point out the recent history of the No. 1 seed. Since 1990, the NFC's top-seeded team is 18-2 in the division round. Yes, this season's Week 12 game between the two teams was close, and the Packers are getting plenty of respect from Las Vegas. But if the Packers do pull off a victory, it will be only the third time in 21 years that a No. 1 seed has lost in the divisional round.

Matching up with Tony G.: The Packers held Falcons receiver Roddy White to a manageable five receptions in the Week 12 meeting, but tight end Tony Gonzalez had a big game. Gonzalez caught all six passes thrown his way, although the NFL would later agree one should have been ruled incomplete, and scored on a 4-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. According to Football Outsiders' calculations, the Packers ranked No. 22 in the NFL during the regular season in defending tight ends. That makes Gonzalez a key to this game.

Pressure-packed: Saturday night's game will mark the fourth consecutive win-or-else game for the Packers, who believe that extended pressure will aid their playoff run. It began in Week 16, when the Packers learned that the only way they could guarantee a playoff berth was to win their final two regular-season games. They defeated the New York Giants and Chicago Bears in successive weeks, and then dispatched the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday in the wild-card round. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said there is "no doubt" that end-of-season mentality was important. "This team had its back against the wall," he added. "We have a really resilient team."