The Falcons, on the other hand, in the same division as the defending Super Bowl champions, figured to be a wild-card team at best, not champions of the NFC South -- let alone have home-field advantage.
1. Can Pack stop Turner?
I talked with Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins this week about the first Falcons game, and the first thing out of his mouth: "We better tackle Michael Turner better than (we did) last time." Turner carried the ball 23 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. He is a load, to say the least, as evidenced by 695 of his 1,371 rushing yards coming after contact. If the Packers don't gang-tackle this guy, he'll have another 100-plus day.
Green Bay is ranked No. 18 against the run largely because of the injuries up front on defense. The Packers have a blitz-scheming defense and can occasionally get caught in a pressure call when a run play is called. They did a nice job against LeSean McCoy last week, but he's a quick back who had only 12 carries.
2. Can Capers' blitz scheme rattle Ryan?
Ryan was sacked twice last time in 28 pass plays, but he completed 86 percent of his attempts. It might not be a good idea for Capers to run too many of his double inside blitzes with the inside backers or the Charles Woodson slot-corner blitz that has been so successful against other quarterbacks.
Ryan hit nine different receivers the first time. That kind of distribution means doing a good job of reading coverages, which I expect again from Ryan.
3. Is Starks the final piece?
Atlanta is an underrated rush defense that finished 10th in the NFL. The last time these teams met, Rodgers was the leading Packers rusher. Atlanta was 5-2 this year when opposing teams rushed for more than 100 yards, and the Falcons will be willing to let Starks have some production before they give up their pass defense with Rodgers and those terrific receivers. Rodgers threw for 344 yards last time, and if it weren't for his first-half fumble that led to a momentum-changing touchdown for the Falcons, Green Bay might have won the game.
4. Can Atlanta's secondary handle Green Bay's aerial attack?
Five different Packers receivers averaged more than 11 yards a reception in the first game, but the team scored only one receiving touchdown. Atlanta finished the year 27th against the pass, and a big part of the problem was the pass rush.
John Abraham had 13 sacks -- and had a sack/fumble against Rodgers -- but the rest of the team generated only 18 sacks on the year. The Packers will slide the protection to Abraham and buy time for Rodgers, who is equally capable in the pocket or on the rollout, to attack the secondary. Falcons defensive end Kory Biermann has to do a good job of contain Rodgers, because if he breaks contain, it will be a long day for the corners against Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. I expect Green Bay to have more than 300 yards passing in this game, although Atlanta corners Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson are playing well.