Green Bay Packers (-6, 50.5) at Buffalo Bills
Tomorrow, the Green Bay Packers will look for their sixth straight win when they visit the desperate Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium (1:00p.m. Eastern). A victory of the Bills would move coach Mike McCarthy past Vince Lombardi for most wins in franchise history (99).
At 10-3, the Packers hold a slim one-game lead over the Lions in the NFC North and are half a game back of Arizona for first in the conference. A Green Bay win on Sunday coupled with a Dallas loss would see the Packers qualify for the post-season for the sixth straight year.
Curiously, the storied Packers have never won on the road against Buffalo (0-5), but they haven’t played in upstate New York since 2006. If there was ever a year when the Packers were going to break that slump, this is a prime contender.
Green Bay is the current Super Bowl favorite thanks to the impeccable play of its offense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 2011 NFL MVP, is making a strong case to take home the award again. Rodgers has passed for 3,652 yards, 35 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He has also gone five straight without a pick (while throwing 16 TD passes over that stretch).
Last week, the Packers offense had the team positioned as 13-point favorites on MNF against Atlanta. Rodgers lived up to his end of the bargain, throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns on 75% passing as the Packers edged out the spunky Falcons, 43-37.
If Rodgers is going to post more big numbers on Sunday, he is going to have to earn them. Unlike Atlanta, the Bills boast a tremendous defense, sitting top-five in both total yards allowed and passing. Buffalo also leads the league in sacks with 48, and defensive end Mario Williams has amassed 12, alone. (Green Bay is middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed with 27.)
At 7-6 on the year, the Bills will need another good performance out of the defense in order to stay in the playoff hunt. The division title is all but out of reach (with the Patriots sitting at 10-3) and the Steelers, Ravens, and Chargers are all one game ahead of the Bills in the Wild Card race.
Making matters worse, Buffalo is just one of five teams sitting at 7-6 in the AFC and the Bills only own the tiebreaker with one of those teams (Cleveland). With so many rivals to eclipse in the standings, winning out is a necessity for Buffalo (and even that may not be enough).
Even though Buffalo will be a desperate team, the Packers offense will likely prove too much for even the likes of Mario Williams. Look for Green Bay to keep pace with Arizona at the top of the NFC and move one step closer to its fourth straight division title (which would be a first in Packer history).
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped from its original.)