Packers vs. Patriots: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction

Five things to watch and a prediction for the Packers' Week 13 matchup with the Patriots. 

Arguably the two hottest teams in the NFL will meet Sunday at Lambeau Field, where the New England Patriots (9-2) and Green Bay Packers (8-3) are set to wage a potential Super Bowl preview in Week 13. 

 

1. Opportunities Available

The Patriots are uniquely capable of combating Green Bay’s receiving duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Expect physical cornerback Brandon Browner to take on Nelson, with supporting help from rangy safety Devin McCourty available over the top. And also expect All-Pro Darrelle Revis to tail Cobb, both on the outside and in the slot. A similar matchup pairing worked for New England against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate a week ago. But while Johnson and Tate were mostly limited, other opportunities were opened up for the likes of Jeremy Ross, Corey Fuller, Joseph Fauria and Eric Ebron. The Lions simply didn’t take advantage, whiffing on at least three touchdowns to secondary receiving options. New England can’t completely eliminate Nelson and Cobb, but this is a game where rookie receiver Davante Adams and the Packers tight ends need to play a big role. Chances to impact the game should be there for the taking.  

 

2. Repeating Danger

How the Patriots attack the Packers defense Sunday will likely say a lot about Dom Capers’ unit. New England is as accomplished as any offense in football in terms of crafting team-specific game plans, so where the Patriots feel the Packers are weakest should be apparent early. New England could very easily attack one of Green Bay’s most obvious season-long problems by pounding the football with big backs LaGarrette Blount (two rushing touchdowns vs. Lions) and Jonas Gray (201 rushing yards, four touchdowns vs. Colts). The Packers have been better against the run the last three weeks with Clay Matthews inside, but there’s obvious appeal to controlling the game on the ground and throwing off play-action. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Patriots try to replicate the offensive plan New Orleans successfully engineered against the Packers a few weeks back. Giving Tom Brady a multi-dimensional offense is just asking for New England to hang a big number on the Green Bay defense.

 

3. Only Need One?

For two offenses so careful with the football, just one turnover could change the game. The Patriots are currently third in the NFL with just nine giveaways. Three came in the blowout at Kansas City and another two during New England’s Week 1 loss to the Dolphins. The Packers lead the NFL with eight turnovers. Green Bay hasn’t had a turnover in two weeks, and only once this season—in New Orleans—has the Packers had more than one in a single game. Meanwhile, both defenses live off takeaways—New England has 20 (seventh most), while Green Bay is second with 23. Both offenses will score, but which defense will provide the game-changing turnover? One takeaway in a game like this could provide the winning moment. 

 

4. Gronk Effect

The Patriots’ “revival” can be directly tied to the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski to 100 percent health. While Brady is the trigger man who gets all the attention, it’s possible Gronkowski is equally important to what New England does every week. Consider this: the Patriots are 20-4 when Gronkowski totals at least 75 receiving yards in a game, he had just 71 total receiving yards over New England’s two losses this season and the Patriots are averaging 45.7 points per game when he goes over 100 receiving yards in 2014. When Gronks eats, the Pats score and win big (maybe tight end wins should be the next new stat?). The middle of the Packers defense may need divine intervention to handle him Sunday. 

 

5. Titan Clash

It would be difficult to find two teams playing better over the last two months. The Patriots are a perfect 7-0 since losing in Kansas City, with a plus-140 point differential, while the Packers are 7-1 over their last eight games at plus-133. Now, after slow starts, both teams are universally considered among the NFL’s elite, and for good reason. Overall, New England is first in scoring (32.5 per game) and overall point differential (plus-130); Green Bay is second in both (32.2, plus-108). Throw in Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and regular-season matchups really don’t get much better. Both teams are headed back to the postseason (only the Packers and Patriots have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons) and a Super Bowl rematch in February isn’t difficult to envision. 

 

Prediction: Patriots 41, Packers 34 (8-3)

Brady is going to hit those open receivers Mark Sanchez and Teddy Bridgewater missed the last two weeks. And when he does, points will be abundant for New England. The Packers are more than capable of scoring with the Patriots at home. But there’s still significantly more trust in a New England defense that handled Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford the last three weeks.  

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Comments (53)

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The TKstinator's picture

November 28, 2014 at 03:16 pm

Is Revis still Revis? I really don't know.
I'd look for Adams (if he's healthy enough), the tight ends, and Lacy to contribute in the passing game. Also expect Lacy to be productive on the ground and for GB to maintain balance.
Should be a close, hard fought, and exciting game.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

November 28, 2014 at 03:34 pm

What a predictable prediction.

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The TKstinator's picture

November 29, 2014 at 08:38 am

I must confess that I prefer my predictions to be predictable.

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Samson's picture

November 28, 2014 at 03:57 pm

If the Pats score 41 points at GB (regardless of the Brady factor) this late in the regular season, don't look for the Pack to make much noise in the play-offs. If they can't protect their home-field (no matter who they play) then the play-offs will be just another futile exercise.

Having said that, short quick passes by AR & 25+ carries by Lacy will keep NE under 30 points. GB 27 NE 24.

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JimTaylor31's picture

November 28, 2014 at 06:32 pm

Gee COW. Are you just trying to cheer us up?

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 29, 2014 at 06:17 am

So you are now, four months too late, acknowledging the fact that the floor for this team is 10-6. I understand. And I agree.

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PackerAaron's picture

November 29, 2014 at 03:59 pm

LOL.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

November 30, 2014 at 01:56 am

Packers D made Sanchez look like a child and he looked liked Tom Brady on Thanksgiving. Perhaps Green Bay makes Brady look like Cutler. Two picks and six sacks

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TommyG's picture

November 28, 2014 at 07:14 pm

Every now and then Capers and our D come up big against a strong QB/TE combination (Atlanta last season). To go against my gut and my usual pessimism, I say the pack comes up with an unlikely late game stop, giving us a 38-35 upset. I know we are favored, but let's face it, a win against the pats is an upset.

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NickPerry's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:33 am

I'm with you there, and the Packers have to put pressure on Brady, get around his feet and make him nervous. One thing for sure, I'd like to see Hayward on Edelman as much as possible. He's way to quick for Hyde and I think Hayward would do a excellent job in taking him away.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

November 28, 2014 at 08:15 pm

37-27 PACK

The pats can be beat, the pats have been beat. Lambeau claims another victim. #NEXT

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TommyG's picture

November 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

This is an under-rated advantage. The pats play on field turf. While I'm sure that they will have the spikes for it, grass plays slower than turf.

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Guisado's picture

November 28, 2014 at 08:54 pm

Calling Jarrett Boykin......Jarret Boykin.....your future is calling. Is you or ain't you a bonafide WR in this league? Sunday is your chance to have your say. It's yours for the taking.

Look for some CM3 to disrupt Gronk. Not full time, just enough to f#$% with him.

Sure, the Pats are pretty good; but they ain't no 1996 Packers. People talking scared. WTF? Game's in Lambeau dammit! Packers 37-31.

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4thand1's picture

November 28, 2014 at 08:58 pm

Pack still favored by 3. Idiots in Vegas know nothing I guess. Packers 45 Patriots 42. Take the Patriots to cover I guess.

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4thand1's picture

November 28, 2014 at 09:32 pm

8 out the 14 so-called experts on ESPN picked the Pack.

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 29, 2014 at 06:28 am

This is a game I've been pointing to for a while. It's a toss-up game. I'm gonna say Packers 34-31. It will take the last drive to win this game.

Green Bay defense held Philly to 20 at home. Since that game Philly has hung up 43 and 33 points on their opponents, including a Dallas team that is definitely in the playoff hunt.

There are only two questionables on the Packer injury report.

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NickPerry's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:11 am

Personally I'm SICK of hearing what the Pats corners are going to Nelson and Cobb and I'm sure Cobb and Nelson are too. Will Rodgers have 300 yards passing with Cobb and Nelson getting 10 catches and 100 yards each? Doubtful, but Rodgers is the most accurate passer I've seen. A well thrown ball can beat great coverage. Cobb and Nelson will beat Revis and Browner at times and Rodgers will throw the ball EXACTLY where he needs to for a completion.
I don't care what they did to Johnson and Tate at Foxboro, Stafford isn't close to be as accurate as Rodgers and this is at Lambeau. Before last week Lacy averaged 12.9 carries a week, last week he had 25 and look what happened. I'd look for Lacy to get the ball early and often.
Perhaps McCarthy will try what myself and other Packers fans have been waiting for, put Janis on the active roster and leave off Boykin. It's not like Boykin has done a thing all year.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 29, 2014 at 10:08 am

All music to my ears. We should all have that outlook, NE has a lot to worry about.

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NewNikeShoes's picture

November 29, 2014 at 11:48 am

Also, the Pats have a really bad pass rush and we have an awesome Offensive Line that held it's own against some pretty great pass-rushing teams. The more time Rodgers gets, the more time he has to shred the other team. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he had 6 carries for 70 yards on the ground or something like that just because of their lackluster pass-rush.

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 29, 2014 at 08:21 am

All three of those losses were on the road. If the Packers beat the Lions at home they will win the division. Will New Orleans be hosting a division champion Packers team? Nope. Lions? Nope. Seattle, most likely not. So yes, the Packers can lose this game and not only still be Super Bowl contenders, they might still be the odds-on favorite to get there from the NFC.

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PackerAaron's picture

November 29, 2014 at 04:02 pm

We saw that movie? You mean the one where Shields and Burnett didn't play and the Saints game plan was specifically to attack their replacements? And where Rodgers blew a hammy in the 2nd half?

Yes, we saw THAT movie.

No one, least of all you, has any idea what would happen in a rematch.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:40 pm

I do. We would kick their effin asses!

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The TKstinator's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:59 am

You, sir, are no Rob Demovsky.

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aj's picture

November 29, 2014 at 03:12 pm

If you've watched this team long enough, you know their ceiling is a championship team. In case you forgot, only one team EVER has had an unblemished season. You don't have to be a fan of this team to know they're legitimate title contenders, don't be ridiculous cow. A loss in the regular season doesn't end a team's season.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:02 pm

Real Question is when Pack wins what are you going to do

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 29, 2014 at 08:54 am

There is a small chance that this won't be as close as y'all think. Capers will come up with a plan, the team will execute, the d-line will get to Brady early and we'll win the turnover battle. So I'm going with the Packers 38-17. If we lose, my "homer" prediction will be forgotten. If we win big, I will accept the accolades as the all-knowing sage.

And I won't have the icky feeling that comes from predicting a loss for my beloved Pack.

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erikgj's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:19 am

Great win and close game for the pack. 38-33

Lacy runs hard. Pats have a costly turnover. Aaron cements his MVP title. I have lots of pats fan friends all Boston transplants. They are worried about the pack and Rodgers. They remember Matt Flynn and the pack pushing them to the edge. They see it as a Super Bowl preview.

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cheddarhead's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:19 am

Use Lacy in the screen play.

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NickPerry's picture

November 29, 2014 at 08:02 pm

Amen.

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lucky953's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:30 am

I really like the way GB's O-Line has been playing. With AR's ability to extend plays, guys are going to get open. Given time, the advantage always goes to the receivers. Always. Bellicheks biggest challenge this week is "handling success". NE has their division locked up, going on the road against a non-conference opponent, after beating three division leaders convincingly. As Rodgers said, this stuff ain't easy to do. It will be tough for NE to really get up for this one and I look for the Packers to come out and lay the wood on these guys: Packers 41- 31

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Bearmeat's picture

November 29, 2014 at 10:17 am

Well, even IF GB loses tomorrow (and that is no sure thing), within 10 days COW will be gone because GB is NOT losing to ATL. That puts GB at 9 wins.

The 1/2 seed is still in play - even with one more loss.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:29 pm

lol. you are so utterly predictable. and almost always wrong.

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NewNikeShoes's picture

November 30, 2014 at 02:00 pm

Oh, like the weapons we controlled last year.
Remember, we beat them with Flynn and some injured starters.
It's also at Lambeau, so...

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balding_pastor's picture

November 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

I say lets see what Peppers can do vs Gronk. He's big and strong enough, but is he quick enough?

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TommyG's picture

November 29, 2014 at 11:32 am

I see Pepper's role as being to jam Gronk at the line before releasing him into whom ever is the cover guy, and continuing his own path towards the QB. That is to say, whenever Gronk is on his side. If the TE is on the opposite side Pepper's needs to hold the edge, and draw enough attention to let CMIII run through the OLine on his way to Brady.

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Packer_Pete's picture

November 29, 2014 at 01:41 pm

Peppers is fast enough, but I'm not sure he is quick enough. I'd have loved to see that when both were in their prime. Peppers is the model for an OLB. Glad he is on our team.

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4thand1's picture

November 29, 2014 at 09:53 pm

You haven't had a good fuckin idea ever, skippy.

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Horse's picture

November 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I don't know who's going to win or by how much but I do know that citing history is useless as a predictor. ESPN's hallmark is breathing heavy over irrelevancies. And COW's on board.

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packsmack's picture

November 29, 2014 at 01:09 pm

So the Patriots, who were murdered by the Dolphins and Chiefs, have no weaknesses? I'm sorry, but this is far too much doom and gloom. You get to Brady, you stop the Pats. The Packers can do that at home. Packers win.

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NickPerry's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:29 pm

Perhaps you missed this, Matthews isn't on the injury report. Nope, he went through full practices all week. Perry hasn't been ruled out and when you look at the run stopping grades for Neal and Perry it's about the same. New England will get their yards, so will the Packers. Mike Daniels is going to have a big game against Stork, their rookie center. You talk as though the Pats have the defense of the 85 Bears and GB has no chance, pretty funny!

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Lphill's picture

November 29, 2014 at 03:37 pm

COW check some stats, Packers scored same amount of points as Pats running 100 less plays, both defenses have given up about the same amount of points , this makes Packers offense more efficient . So your looking past this loss and predicting a loss to the Falcons? You truly are an ass .

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NickPerry's picture

November 29, 2014 at 08:27 pm

I was just looking at that. The Packers have given up 17 TD passes, New England 18. The Packers have 15 INT, New England 12. The QB rating against GB is 80.2, the QB rating against New England is 82.0. See in all stats the two are very close. At least come with something backing up the dribble that flows from your mouth Cow. Like usual you're wrong again.

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PackerAaron's picture

November 29, 2014 at 04:04 pm

I do enjoy how Cow keeps predicting a "Blood. Bath."

Eventually, maybe, he'll be right. I mean, he was so close when he said it would be a Blood. Bath. against the Eagles.

Rofl

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aj's picture

November 29, 2014 at 04:14 pm

Lmao, technically that game was a blood bath.

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TommyG's picture

November 29, 2014 at 05:07 pm

Indeed!

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 29, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Like a stopped clock or a blind squirrel...

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DrealynWilliams's picture

November 29, 2014 at 06:19 pm

Oh yea, how about this --

More of Nelson/Cobb in motion pre-snap and let's try some bunch formation. I don't think I've seen that (Bunch Formation) at all from the Pack.

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Lphill's picture

November 29, 2014 at 06:45 pm

Who on here actually thinks COW is a Packers fan ? All he does is show disrespect no matter the topic, he has to be a frustrated Viking fan , no other way to explain his hatred towards the Packers . Bloodbath? Then trying to plant a seed that the Packers defense can't stop the elite offense of the Falcons? Is weed legal in Minnesota where COW lives?

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lucky953's picture

November 29, 2014 at 07:53 pm

Well, the only game he's willing to play is win-win. Either he's a prophet or his beloved Packers win ( and he has to take a little crap on this board...but that is a small price to pay for a true fan). It's tough going through life not knowing how to handle a loss.

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Bohj's picture

November 29, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Late for the party but.........I did dream of clay getting a sack fumble on the patriots opening drive. Could have been the tryptophan but it seemed real enough. If that sh$# happens....I'm eating turkey before every game from now on.

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pooch's picture

November 30, 2014 at 09:23 am

Please Capers much like Wayne Simmons in championship game,let Peppers smash Grong at LOS ,do not let him go downfield unmolested.Please be creative in this game

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pooch's picture

November 30, 2014 at 09:24 am

Gronk,whatever happened to edit button

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NewNikeShoes's picture

November 30, 2014 at 02:07 pm

Cow would abuse the edit button to hell

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