Today sees the 9-2 New England Patriots take their seven game winning streak to Lambeau Field where they will face off against the Green Bay Packers in a clash between what many consider to be the two best teams in football right now. This is the first time ever that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers’ teams will go head to head which is something that somehow adds more spice to what is already the most mouthwatering affair of this 2014 NFL season to date.
In their last 3 games the Patriots have faced all division leaders and defeated all 3 in comfortable fashion. Before their bye week they hosted the Denver Broncos and blew them out of the water with Tom Brady putting on a passing clinic in a 43-21 victory and after the bye week they went to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Colts where they wore down the defense of the Colts with ground and pound football in a 42-20 win.
That game saw a new starlet in the form of Jonas Gray who scored 4 touchdowns that night to deflate Indianapolis just as they did in last years playoffs when LaGarrette Blount did the same in another blowout victory. Blount has sinced resigned with the team and celebrated his return with a touchdown in last weeks 34-9 victory against Detroit at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots frustrated the Lions’ offense with brilliant defensive play. They mixed up the schemes and showed different coverages to limit Calvin Johnson and frustrate Matthew Stafford.
The Patriots recipe to success many times during the Brady-Belichick era has been playing 60 minutes of smart football and that is what they will need tonight when they come up against Aaron Rodgers and co. Just like New England the Green Bay Packers started the season at 2-2 and came under intense scrutiny from many but following a blowout defeat on the road in New Orleans 44-23 before their bye week the Pack have come out all guns blazing and have scored a combined 132 points in their last three outings giving them huge wins at home over Chicago and Philadelphia before winning a close one against Minnesota on the road 24-21 last weekend.
The fact that the Patriots have also scored over triple digits in total with 119 points in their past three games just shows how breathtaking today’s game could be and with Brady and Rodgers at the QB position it is very unlikely that these two teams will disappoint us. With the two best offenses in football at their disposal Brady and Rodgers will both be looking to put their best work on display under the lights of prime time football. Terrific Tom has 26 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions on the year with 2,998 passing yards to his name too and a QB rating of 101.0 which is very impressive considering how poorly the Pats started the year.
A-Rod better known as Aaron Rodgers well he has been in devastating form this season and has accumulated 30 touchdown passes to just 3 picks and is also just short of the 3,000 yard passing mark with 2,957 yards on the year. He is way ahead passer rating wise of all the other quarterbacks with a ridiculous overall rating of 119.3 which just explains how great Rodgers is. Tonight personally and what a lot of people have suggested already is a matchup between the two best quarterbacks of their respective eras and between two QB’s who will definitely be in the conversation for greatest quarterback of all-time for years and years to come.
|Who will lead their team to victory in today’s game?|
Now despite the Packers early season woes besides a rusty opening season game against Seattle where Green Bay looked scared they have bounced back very well to get to 8-3 and as mentioned previously their displays in recent weeks have been amazing but the Patriots troublesome times early on in 2014 are almost incomparable. It has been said time after time but after that Monday Night madness against the Chiefs back in week 4 the Patriots came under so much scrutiny in particular Tom Brady.
After that huge bounce back win against Cincinnati the Patriots have been on a hot streak steamrolling through everyone in their path. Despite his supposed woes Brady still managed to rarely turn the football over even during this offenses poor start to the year now when you combine the fact of Brady’s intelligence with how well this New England offense is doing then you can start to see as well as appreciate why this team is so devastating. The return of Rob Gronkowski has been unquestionable one of the main ingredients for how effective this Patriots offense has been and it has been brilliant to see Gronk return to the superstar level that only a handful of other players in the league can reach. He continues to dominate opponents and will be a real handful for the Packers and it will be interesting to see if Clay Matthews stays as an inside backer especially given the resurgence of the Patriots run game.
The prospect of a Gray-Blount one two punch gives Shane Vereen the ability to do what he does best which is catch passes out of the backfield and cause mismatches for opposing defenses. As we know this Patriots offense has been in devastating form with everyone contributing to its success which has helped Brady and Gronk have such a devastating affect just because they don’t have all the pressure to get it done themselves now that everyone else is stepping up and a lot of that credit should go to the offensive line who, now that it has a settled starting line up, has brought the stability and great lineman play needed in order to make this New England offense tick once again.
Having a mad scientist-coaching mastermind in the form of Bill Belichick helps the Patriots offense because with the players they have on the other side of the ball it has given them the opportunities needed to make plays and both the defense and offense are helping each other out. This is especially true this season as this Patriots defense is probably the best we have seen since 2007 when New England almost pulled off the perfect season. Bill Belichick is having lots of fun defensively this year and he along with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are thriving with the talent they have on this side of the ball with the likes of Revis, Browner, Arrington Hightower, Collins, Chung, McCourty, Chandler and Chris Jones, Ninkovich and even the new additions of Ayers and Casillas coming to mind.
They’ll need whoever is on the field tonight to be at their best when they come up against Rodgers and co as they have a stellar receiving core with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson leading the way along with a supporting cast of Boykin and rookie wideout Devante Adams who has slowly worked his way in to the offense. Add running back Eddie Lacy to the mix who despite some personal on-field troubles himself at times this season still is considered to be one of the best backs in the league and you can see why this Packers offense is equipped to succeed. In a pass heavy team Lacy’s stats sometimes don’t reflect well on him but with his obvious talents it gives a different dimension to Green Bay and a running back that has the ability to succeed where maybe in years gone by this is something they’ve lacked.
As I mentioned before tonight sees, in my opinion, the best quarterbacks of two generations/eras whatever you like to call it go head to head. Brady and Belichick have not only won three Super Bowls together but they have also combined to pick up numerous accolades along with the respect of many for their many achievements over the last almost 15 years. Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers if anything are both the next generation of Brady and Belichick. They may only have one ring to their name but surely at some point in their careers in Wisconsin at least a second championship will follow but the same regarding a fourth has been said about Brady-Belichick yet that hasn’t happened as of yet.
Belichick and McCarthy both teased the media this week with the pair both asked to compare the two quarterbacks early in the week. Belichick’s reply was “They both wear No. 12,” before ending the media session and McCarthy’s response to the same question was that “They’re both from California,” before he ended his session too. With both these franchises in prime positions to make a run at a championship under the guidance of brilliant head coaches and fantastic quarterbacks stemming down to well equipped offenses that know what it takes to win games in any way shape or form it is no wonder that this is being hyped up as a preview of Super Bowl XLIX come February 1st.
Personally I don’t see both of these teams making the big game and if I had to choose one to make it I would go with the Patriots just because they seem to be more well rounded overall of these two teams but in regards to tonight’s game going to Lambeau Field is no easy task and that is what makes the prospect of tonight’s matchup so gripping with the winner of tonight’s game probably the hardest choice to make. Will the Patriots assert themselves as the best team in the NFL by making it 8 wins straight in one of the toughest places to play in football or will Rodgers and co derail the Brady led New England train and rack up their 4th straight win to take a step closer to getting a bye going in to the postseason… We’ll find out in a few hours!