3 Things to watch: Packers vs. Falcons

1 Not a clay pigeon

Clay Matthews will be named Defensive Player of the Year. The Packers stud is the best outside linebacker in the game, racking up 24 sacks in the last seasons, with two in two career playoff games. And while the Falcons don’t allow many sacks — third-least in the NFL (23) — Matthews will still find a way to make an impact. Remember, it was his stop on a crucial third-and-1 that thwarted one of the Eagles’ three red-zone trips last week.

2 What’s in a name?

Try everything. Some nicknames just roll off the tongue, but Matt Ryan, aka “Matty Ice,” has earned it. In three seasons (46 games), the Penn Charter alum has orchestrated 13 game-winning drives, including six this season. (All-time leader, John Elway, had 47 in 16 years). Furthermore, Ryan holds a 20-2 record at the Georgia Dome, where this game is being played.

3 Grounded for life

The knock on the Packers was that they couldn’t run. Then, James Starks set a franchise rookie playoff record by gashing the Eagles for 123 yards. “With the way they’re running the football, they have a chance to be even more multidimensional,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith. Did Starks take advantage of a game plan geared to shut down the pass? Or is he for real? If it’s indeed the latter, then the Packers may have a clear path to the Super Bowl.

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