Here I go, trying to preview a game that might be the most highly anticipated regular-season matchup in years.
Rodgers vs Brady.
A duel between quarterbacks playing in their own stratospheres. Two of the best of all time. The last time these two teams met it was at Lambeau Field in 2014, with Rodgers playing a magical game threw for 368 yards, two touchdowns and winning 26-21.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers played a great game against the Rams in LA. Falling late in the fourth quarter when running back Ty Montgomery decided, against the advice of his coaches, to take the ball out of the end zone. He was tackled and fumbled the ball for the Rams to recover. LA proceeded to control the game. That may have been the final nail in the coffin for Montgomery who was traded to the Baltimore Ravens this week. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was also traded to the Washington Redskins.
This in my mind is GM Brian Gutekunst wanting to put his stamp on the team whilst looking to the future in order to better the franchise. The Packers are 1st in the league passing yards, averaging 308.1 a game while they are only 13th in points per game with 25. They need to score more against the Patriots. History tells us you need touchdowns, not field goals to win against New England.
Cornerback Jaire Alexander had a standout game last week registering 7 tackles and 5 pass breakups in their toughest game of the season so far. It will be interesting to see how the Packers play the Patriots offense, especially against Gordon, Edelman and Gronkowski.
If Alexander is your best player, it seems obvious to me to put him on New England’s best player, Gronkowksi. Aaron Rodgers has been playing incredibly well this season whilst fighting through a leg injury sustained early on in the season. His quarterback rating is currently100.4.
Green Bay will need some of his playmaking magic, in the form of either his pinpoint throws, his scrambling or a combination of both in order to come through against New England. Aaron Rodgers’ career stats never fail to impress. Whether it’s his interception percentage of 1.5% or the fact he has the highest career quarterback rating with 103.6, he can always be counted on to make an impact. Otherwise, look out for Jimmy Graham to have a big game against this Patriots secondary.
New England Patriots
The Patriots come off a 25-6 road victory against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night. It was the lowest amount of points they’ve scored in their last 6 games, but they are averaging 29.9 points per game which ranks as the 4th in the league.
Here are some incredible Tom Brady stats to marvel at before the game so you can get an appreciation his greatness. With 219 yards against the Packers (passing, rushing or receiving), Tom Brady will reach 80,000 total yards in his career. This will make him the first person to reach that mark in NFL history. Brady is also only 5 touchdown passes away from Peyton Manning’s record for most career touchdowns of all time, both in regular and postseason with 580.
The Patriots will look to utilise James White against the Packers defense, which ranks 5th against the pass only giving up 221 yards per game but ranks 22nd against the run giving up 119 yards per game. New England has the 5th ranked offense in the league with Brady at the helm so expect points galore on Sunday night. With a defense that has at least 1 takeaway in every game this season, it will be a back and forth affair.
Trey Flowers on the defensive line has been playing very well this season so his matchup with the Green Bay’s tackles will be an interesting battle to look out for on Sunday. It’s just whether New England’s secondary can stay disciplined in their assignments against Rodgers and co. If they are able to, then they will be more likely to win as they won’t be undone by the magic of Rodgers creating magic out of chaos.
In the end, I’m going to go with my gut and take the Packers to win. They will fight back scoring a game-winning touchdown in the final minute from Rodgers to Graham to win 38-36.
Image from nypost.com
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who’s followed the game since 2010, currently at the University of Leicester. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRiley and his blog http://www.rileynfl.wordpress.com