Packers, Patriots Ready for AFC, NFC Battle
The New England Patriots are the hottest team in the AFC and Sunday, they meet the Green Bay Packers, who are the hottest team in the NFC.
New England is 9-3 and currently the top seed in the AFC. Green Bay is 8-3 and currently the second seed in the NFC behind Arizona.
This game is a possible Super Bowl match-up and also the first meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The last time the Patriots and Packers played was in 2010 and Matt Flynn was Green Bay's starter because Rodgers had a concussion. The Patriots won the game 31-27, but the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl later in February.
Now, in 2014, Rodgers and Brady are both having 'MVP' seasons.
Rodgers has thrown for 2,957 yards, 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions. More impressively, Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home since Week 13 of the 2012 season (11 straight games and 322 consecutive passes).
Brady, on the other hand, has passed for 2,998 yards, 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
New England is averaging 32.5 points per game, while Green Bay is scoring 32.2 points per game. In fact, the Packers are averaging 43.8 points per game at Lambeau Field this year. The Patriots are averaging 39.5 points per game during their seven-game win streak. Both are playing really well football.
Here are some x-factors that could be the difference, Sunday afternoon:
New England will likely have Darrelle Revis shadow Jordy Nelson. Then the Patriots have another solid cornerback in Brandon Browner. Green Bay has Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Andrew Quarless that will all demand attention. How will Rodgers read the New England secondary?
Brady has plenty of weapons, too. Rob Gronkowski is healthy, Tim Wright is emerging, Julian Edelman is always a threat in the slot and Brandon LaFell is a solid vertical option. So, how will Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Morgan Burnett and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix read Brady?
Next, both teams have run games. Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy can use their running backs to keep Brady and Rodgers off the field. Eddie Lacy ran the ball 25 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns last week. LeGarrette Blount ran 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns last week. The previous week, Jonas Gray exploded for the Patriots with four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts.
New England: Danny Aiken, Dan Connolly, Dominique Easley, Cameron Fleming, Chandler Jones, LaFell, Shane Vereen and Chris White are questionable. Brady, Marcus Cannon and Edelman are probable.
Green Bay: Jarrett Bush and Nick Perry are questionable. Adams, Brandon Bostick, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton are probable.
**The game is set for 3:25 CDT on CBS and can be heard right here on ESPN 99.1.
Sam Tastad will have pre-and-post game report for the Packers all season long. Follow him on Twitter @samtastad and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.