New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-4, 57 o/u)
Sunday’s marquee matchup pits the New England Patriots against the Green Bay Packers (4:25 p.m. Eastern on CBS).
The Packers and Patriots are arguably the two hottest teams in the league. Many factors have led to such superb play, including next-level performances by quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. But it’s been the supporting casts that have really made the difference for both teams.
For the Packers, wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are both having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. Nelson has put up 1,066 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, while Cobb has 837 yards and ten touchdowns.
“Teams are going to take away what we do best, and what we’ve done best is get the ball to Jordy and Randall,” said Rodgers. “They’ve had big statistical seasons so (opponents) try to take them out of the game.”
The visiting Patriots have also been spectacular, winning seven straight games since a 2-2 start. Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner will be tasked with slowing down Green Bay’s receivers and helping to extend that streak.
On offense, New England’s receiving corps, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, has come up big during the winning streak and is spreading the wealth. The team has four players with over 300 receiving yards on the season, led by Gronkowski’s 812.
Brady is already at 2,998 passing yards on the season, along with 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions. A quick start is of the utmost importance for the Patriots this week.
“We’re playing Green Bay in Green Bay,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “That’s where they’ve been very dominant, really, in terms of getting ahead and playing from ahead, first quarter. The numbers are staggering.”
Newly signed running back Lagarrette Blount may be key for the Patriots on Sunday. The Packers struggle mightily to stop the run, and leaning on the ground game would help eat up the clock and keep Rodgers and company off the field.
Green Bay is currently a 4-point favorite in this one. The over/under is at 57.
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (originally posted to Flickr as Aaron Rodgers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)