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Packers Periscope: Week 9 vs. New England Patriots

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Packers Periscope: Week 9 vs. New England Patriots

The Green Bay Packers head east this week and visit the New England Patriots.  So much for a breather after a tough west coast trip and game at the Los Angeles Rams last week.

The comparisons between these two franchises never seem to rest from year to year.  Let's take a look at the match up in more detail.

The Past

These teams have only met 11 times, including Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996 season.  The Packers hold a slight 6-5 edge.

But starting with that Super Bowl match up, these teams have oft been compared to one another.  Well, to be honest, it's more Packers fans who compare their team to the Patriots ever since New England has gone on a Super Bowl spree over the last 17 years.

Between the longevity of both head coaches and the quarterback situations, many feel that the Packers have fallen way short in the Super Bowl appearance and trophy collection categories.

Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have turned the Patriots into the NFL's gold standard.  No team has appeared in and won more championship games since the two paired up in the early 2000's.  The Patriots have appeared in a whopping eight Super Bowls and won five since 2001.

It seems so long ago, but the last time these teams met, in 2014, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy turned in what many believe was his single best coaching performance in his time in Green Bay.  It turned into a 26-21 win for the Packers at Lambeau Field and earned some nice accolades from Belichick during the post game handshake.

In his 10th season in the league, that was quarterback Aaron Rodgers' first start against the Patriots.  During the previous meeting in 2010, Rodgers was held out after having suffered a concussion in Detroit the week prior and didn't play.  Back up Matt Flynn kept the Packers close and still had a chance to pull out a win late before a sack/fumble ended Green Bay's efforts.

Prior to that, the most recent games between these teams came in 2006 and 2002. 

The Patriots shut out the Packers in Green Bay in '06 and knocked both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers out of that game.  It was one that New England later admitted to using illegal methods to learn Green Bay's calls and tendencies.

In 2002, following New England's first Super Bowl win, the Packers blew the Patriots out of their own building.

That we still haven't seen another Packers-Patriots Super Bowl to date seems like a crime but it easily could have and should have happened in 2007 and 2014 were it not for rough losses by the Packers in the conference championship game.

The Present

This game is being pushed hard by NBC and they even had Michael Jordan do a promo spot, talking about settling the debate over who the greatest quarterback in the game is.  More on that later.

After starting 1-2, the Patriots have won five straight and sit at 6-2.  They are unbeaten at home this season.  One of those wins handed the Kansas City Chiefs, seemingly New England's top competition in the AFC, their first loss of the season.

The Packers dropped back to .500 with last week's loss to the Rams and are now 3-3-1.  Green Bay had its chances to notch a huge win and re-establish themselves as contenders in the NFC but couldn't withstand a second-half surge and a late-game gaffe cost them a chance to drive and score.

Two full-time starters were moved from the Packers this week and will mean changes for how the Packers line up on Sunday night. 

Running back Ty Montgomery was "traded" to the Baltimore Ravens after his idiotic kick return/fumble and subsequent comments afterward.  The Packers easily replace his production on offense and special teams with a combination of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and likely Marquez Valdes-Scantling.  

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was also traded away, he to Washington where he claims his best asset, his "effort", will be on full display for his new team.  I can only hope the Packers face Washington in a key game later this season, then.  Tramon Williams took snaps at safety in practice this week and Jermaine Whitehead has played considerable snaps there this season as well.

As long as Belichick is coaching and Brady the quarterback, the Patriots will be a tough out.  They match up well and scheme their talent as well as any in the league.  

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been a match up problem for many years, but he hasn't been as effective this season as in years past and seems to be battling injuries.  Running back James White, on the other hand, continues to baffle and destroy opposing defenses.  White's role is one the Packers have long had issues defending.  Expect more headaches on Sunday night, fans.

Defensively, the Packers turned in one of their better games last week, nearly shutting the Rams out in the first half until the offense gave up a safety and a short field.  Green Bay created pressure and made some big plays on third down to sprint out to an early lead.  

Rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander had five passes defended last week and doesn't seem to want to play the role of wide-eyed rookie out there.  He's already the Packers' best pass defender and there's no close second.  Last week, Alexander shadowed Brandin Cooks and made Cooks' day a long one.  Will the rookie be glued to Patriots receiver Chris Hogan this week or will he draw some of what Josh Gordon has to offer?

Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels will once again be called upon to slow down the opposing running back in White this week.

It's no secret, Brady isn't mobile so tracking him shouldn't be an issue but getting to him in the first place could be.  Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has managed to get free rushers often this season and that's never more important if you want to beat the Patriots.

Offensively, the Packers aren't getting into the end zone.  Rodgers is racking up chunks of yards but Green Bay is struggling to finish drives, something that will haunt them in this match up if it holds true.

Without Montgomery to tempt McCarthy, will the Packers finally lean more on running back Aaron Jones this week?  Jones led the team in carries and yardage last week but is still seeming to be under-utilized.  Jones' success in this game can only open many opportunities in the passing game.  This is Green Bay's key to winning this game.  

The Future

As encouraging as it was to see the Packers keep up with the Rams on the road, they still came up short.  Too many times on McCarthy's watch has his team done the same and failed to get the "W". 

With the struggles this year's team has already had, it's hard to see a different result in this game.

Uncommon opponent on the road and one of the best teams over the last two decades just seems like a mountain for McCarthy's Packers to climb.  They may put up another good showing but it's another disappointing ending and the Packers come back home under .500 searching for a win to stop the slide.

I also predict that Rodgers/Brady Twitter will be a very calm place after this game.  And if you believe that, I have a bridge over some ocean front property in Arizona that I can sell you.

The two don't face off head-to-head and the outcome of this game, or any for that matter, doesn't answer the question of who's better.  But we'll all have fun reading the many reasons why it does.  It's one of the reasons we watch in the first place.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

I think the game against the Rams was the turning point of the season.

I can't prove that yet, but I firmly believe the Packers win on Sunday in Foxboro, something that hardly any team manages.

That team momentum will be like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger, faster, until it is a runaway juggernaut.

Tarynfor12's picture

I also think the Rams game was a turning point....just not the same.

I can't prove it yet either but a loss to NE will make the case.

The snowball rolling ' downhill ' needs to be replaced with something alluding to going up not down, as a loss will have that snowball melting faster than any downhill speed envisioned prior.

The Packers will offer a good game...not enough to win and not enough in the loss to reinforce success for this season. Though success is pliable in GB...even the making of playoffs will be a failed goal.

Two weeks of planning and to come up short, for whatever reason, doesn't equate to having enough time to do so vs the Pats, especially with the week of fallout from the Rams loss.

I have more faith in the Pats erring and winning, than I do the Packers not erring to ensure a win.

Hope I'm wrong but I just cannot get comfortable wearing the glasses of the blind faithful.
: )

Turophile's picture

Tarynfor12. "Hope I'm wrong but I just cannot get comfortable wearing the glasses of the blind faithful."

It isn't blind faith, it's based on what I saw against the Rams compared to what was on show earlier in the season.

As for "a loss to NE will make the case." well of course it will. That's what a turning point is, a critical time for both good and bad. Much hinges on this keystone game, so Sunday will be (as you say) a good indicator of the future for the rest of the season.

Bearmeat's picture

I agree wholeheartedly. If GB plays a relatively clean game, they'll win. I like the way the momentum has started to build, and this can very well be a "watch out!" moment for them.

jww061356's picture

I actually like their chances in this game better than I did against the Rams. I think they have a real chance if they play like they did against the Rams minus the dumb mistakes and play calls. I think we lean on Jones and MVS more, and I also think if Williams plays safety that will stabilize the safety play a bit.

Bearmeat's picture

Correction: These two teams played in 2010 in Foxboro. Matt Flynn started and almost won the game. I remember - I was there. Cold as hell. That was also our last loss until week 14 of 2011. :)

Also, regarding their super bowl "spree:" Let's not forget that the AFCE has been a joke for 25 years. Those 5-6 easy wins a year really helps NE get homefield. Then let's look at the good teams in the AFC - Indy, Denver, Pittsburgh, occasionally Baltimore and San Diego a couple times. That's it. The NFC has been far and away the better conference since 2007. It's an easier path the the big game in the AFC - just a fact. Which still doesn't change the fact that the Pats have been awesome during that stretch, but it's worth mentioning.

Regarding this game - the team showed me something last week. I really do think MM teams catch fire very well late season, and that's what we're seeing the beginning of right now. I think Burks and/or J Jones follows White everywhere he goes this week. We have been better against shifty backs and TEs under Pettine than we have been since 2010.

I actually think Green Bay has more talent and I think they'll win comfortably if they play mistake free. With a couple boneheaded mistakes and thanks to the best coaching staff in history, the Pats will make it tough.

GB: 27
NE: 24

Rossonero's picture

1. Defense: Cut down on the chunk passing plays.

Despite the absence of Cooper Kupp, the Rams averaged their second-highest yards per reception this season, behind only the shootout against Minnesota.

Aside from Tyler Higbee, every Rams receiver who caught a pass had a reception of at least 19 yards. That can't happen against New England.

2. Offense: Be better on 3rd down.

We were 2 for 9 vs. the Rams. For the season, we rank 19th, converting 35 of 91 attempts for a 38% conversion rate.....Oakland ranks ahead of us.

dobber's picture

If they don't force TOs against the Pats, they don't win. I think it's as simple as that.

Lare's picture

They also need to stop beating themselves (mental mistakes, missed assignments, turnovers, penalties, etc.). It's becomming too common of a theme this season.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

Yeah I'm with you, the unforced errors are killing this team, so many drives stall this year because of miscues. Hopefully both you and dobber are right, and they win the TO battle, and stop the unforced errors, cause if they do that they will win. Easier said then done.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

Oh yeah and stop milking the clock on every single offence drive!!!!!!!!

Tundraboy's picture

Thank you for saying that.

Bearmeat's picture

It'll have to be a fumble or a tipped ball, cause Tom doesn't throw INTs, and he doesn't take sacks. I personally don't think we need a TO to win. I think we just need to not lose the TO battle.

31 Wedge's picture

First time poster, long time reader of the site.

I, too, feel like this team may have reached a turning point on the season in a positive fashion. No one wants to ever hear about moral victories but the Rams game had value in that.

Everyone under the Sun knows the Packers would have won that game if Rodgers gets that football.
These matchups against New England has promise on paper, of course that means nothing once that ball gets kicked off Sunday night.
That being said, it's more than likely going to be another case of 'whoever has the ball last - wins'.

Tarynfor12's picture

" Everyone under the Sun knows the Packers would have won that game if Rodgers gets that football."

False and laced wit that ' Optimistic ' bs. Rodgers would have had the chance to ' possibly ' win but no way can it be a ' would ' have won.
The fact that Rodgers failed to get more points than 10 while the defense forced 6 punts in the first half counters your ' would ' have scored.

31 Wedge's picture

Kind of sounds like a pessimistic view, honestly. Also doesn't sound like you're giving the Rams much credit there - it works both ways.

We can agree to disagree, but I've seen enough of Aaron Rodgers with 2 minutes left and essentially 2 timeouts only needing field position to say with good reason that game would have been a Packers victory. The man has done more with less.

Bearmeat's picture

I'm warning you, dude. Don't try to reason with her. She's about as stubborn as can be. Like talking to a brick wall. Just move along. Nothing to see here.

Tarynfor12's picture

And here I thought we were beginning to agree. : )

Bearmeat's picture

LOL. Ok. That earned a thumbs up.

Bearmeat's picture

Welcome, Wedge!

Please don't pay attention to Taryn. She is the village malcontent who is a genius in her own mind. Most of the rest of us are pretty level-headed fans. Centrist on the optimism and pessimism scale - despite the (loud and frequent) opines of our aforementioned malcontent. :P

31 Wedge's picture

Happy to be here.

Jonathan Spader's picture

If Wedge has been a long time reader I think he already knows what to expect. I was thinking before TY fumbled man did the Rams screw this up. You don't give Rodgers the ball with 2 min left on the clock Packers win. Sure Rodgers doesn't guarantee a win but it's as close as you'll find to a guarantee in the NFL.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I'd like to see the Packers run the hurry up offense a bit more. Rodgers is a master of the hurry up. This will keep the Patriots from making substitutions and maybe get some great match ups or force some mistakes on coverage. Do it just enough to keep the defense off balance. And do not abandon the run just because you only get 1 or 2 yards. Aaron Jones can break one at any time. But he has to have the opportunities to get the job done. If the Packers take the attitude they had in the game against the Rams to New England they have an excellent chance to upset the Patriots on their own turf. But do not let up or get sluggish at any point during the game or Brady will march his team to victory.

Tundraboy's picture

Sluggish? MM. Let up?

PAPackerbacker's picture

Yea, what the hell was I thinking? :-)

Community Guy's picture

i do not discount the factors of both Mike Pettine and Joe Philbin having substantial experience v. the Patriots. i do not discount Aaron Rodgers' abilities, combined with his competitive character. i do not discount the Packers defensive momentum and increasing defensive talent. finally, i do not discount the relative health of the entire Packers' roster. the Packers need to win this game.. and, they will.

PatrickGB's picture

I think our STs play have been the part of the Packers that has been the most inconsistent. Too many key gaffs at critical times in the games. My only question is, who will screw up this game? But on the other hand, maybe someone on STs will actually perform well this week? One can hope that all phases of the team will perform well the whole game. We are due.

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