The 8-5 Green Bay Packers travel to Foxboro this weekend to take on the 11-2 New England Patriots. This game took a drastic turn today when Green Bay officially announced that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will miss the game as a result of the concussion he suffered last week versus the Detroit Lions. This is not really a surprise, but Rodgers did suffer a concussion earlier in the season and played the following week. The Packers have been devastated by injuries this season and still have managed to put up respectable season similar to the 2010 Boston Red Sox.
Once again, the Patriots find themselves playing in primetime. Each win at this point of the season is critical. The Patriots have locked up a playoff seed and need to keep pushing forward in order to lock up a first round bye and home field advantage. The Packers enter this week trailing the Bears by one game in the standings and are two games out of the wildcard. The remaining schedule for the Packers is brutal as they’ll end the season against the Giants and Bears.
Key Match ups:
Matt Flynn Vs Tom Brady
Flynn is on track to make his first NFL start since being drafted in the 7th round out of LSU in 2008. Ideally, one would hope that their first NFL start would not be on the road, in New England and on Sunday Night Football, but it happens to be. The Patriots defense has looked like the ’85 Bears the last two weeks, but it is hard to imagine this continuing all season. The Patriots still give up the second most passing yards (266) per game in the NFL. The bend don’t break style of defense is bound to come back and hurt you at some point. The Patriots have proven that a late round draft pick who is replacing an injured superstar, could work. Tom Brady and the Patriot offense is unstoppable at the moment, the Packers are 3rd overall in passing yards allowed and have not allowed an opposing QB to pass for more than 200 yards in 5 weeks. The Patriots have dismantled better defenses the last two weeks with their efficient and deadly short passing attack.
Advantage: Brady in a landslide
Patriots Running Game Vs Packers D
The two headed monster of Danny Woodhead and Ben Jarvis Green Ellis has been coming up big all season. BJGE gets the tough yards and Danny Woodhead always seems to make 1-2 big plays each game at crucial times. The Packers are middle of the road when it comes to rushing defense and have not allowed an opposing RB to go over 100 yards in the last 5 games. The Packers need to take away one of the offensive dimensions the Patriots offer and taking away the run may be their best option.
Advantage: Packers D
Clay Matthews Vs The Patriots decision to trade down in 2009
The 2009 draft had the Patriots with the 23rd overall pick, they first traded down with the Ravens to the 26th spot and then traded the 26th pick to the Packers who selected Matthews out of USC. As a result of the trades, the Patriots ended up with extra picks that allowed them to select Darius Butler (41st), Brandon Tate (83rd), Julian Edelman (232nd) and Rob Gronkowski (42nd in 2010). Matthews is a special type of player capable of taking over a game. His 12.5 sacks puts him second in the NFL and the Patriots will need to neutralize his rush in order to be successful. On the Patriots side, Gronkowski is the most likely to contribute and comes into the game leading all AFC rookies with 7 TD’s, however, the Patriots style is to let anyone jump in and have a monster game at any time. Matthews is the better overall player by far and the tie would have to go to the superstar.
Advantage: Clay Matthews
Some stats that may or may not shock you:
The Patriots are second overall in the NFL with 20 interceptions on the season.
The Packers were the first team to defeat the Patriots at Gillette stadium with a 28-10 victory in 2002.
Tom Brady is 14-1 at home vs the NFC.
The Patriots have now scored over 30 points whilst committing no turnovers in 5 straight games.
Tom Brady now has 6 games with at least 2 TD’s and no Int’s to tie Don Meredith’s NFL record.
The Patriots are 4-5 overall on NBC’s Sunday Night Football
The Patriots have scored 7 non-offensive TD’s this season. 3 pick 6’s, 2 kickoff returns, 1 fumble returned and 1 blocked field goal returned. Arizona leads the NFL with 9.
Last week was the first time the Patriots had two receivers go over 100 yards receiving in a game. Welker had 115 and Branch had 151.
Brady has won 26 consecutive home regular season starts.