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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Patriots- A Sunday Night Shootout in Foxborough

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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Patriots- A Sunday Night Shootout in Foxborough

The football world waits with anticipation for the latest installment of the Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady rivalry.  However, this is a rivalry that exists only in the minds of fans who debate which player is the greatest of all-time.  For the two quarterbacks, this is a matchup that they look forward to since they do not have a chance to play each other every season.  There is a mutual respect and admiration between both players for the body of work that they have accomplished throughout this point in their careers.  Aaron Rodgers believes that Brady's five super bowl victories stop many debates before they even get started and Tom Brady believes that if Aaron Rodgers played in the Patriots system that he would throw for 7,000 yards every year because he is one of the greatest talents that he's ever seen.

Although this matchup Sunday Night is heavily reliant on the performances of both quarterbacks wearing number 12, other matchups that will go overlooked will determine who walks out of Gillette Stadium this Sunday Night with a victory.  Here are the key matchups for this "Sunday Night Shootout in Foxborough".

Key Matchups:

1. Special Teams:

The Patriots are historically known for their perennially great special teams' units which they utilize to create turnovers from deep in their opponents' territories and to consistently win the field position battle.  As we all know, the special teams unit has not been a strength of the Green Bay Packers and has cost them wins in big games on numerous occasions.  Last Weeks defeat in Los Angeles was just the latest example of the special teams unit being the difference between a Packers win and a Packers loss.  

The Rams were able to completely change the complexion of the game last Sunday when punter Johnny Hekker was able to halt the Packers momentum by pinning them inside the 1-yard line, which set them up for a safety when Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh penetrated through the A-gap.  This safety flipped all of the momentum of the game and lead to another Rams touchdown before the end of the half.  The Rams special teams play was directly responsible for changing the score from 10-0 to 10-8 before the end of the half.  

The Patriots special teams unit is just as talented and can create a similar outcome if the Packers offense and punting game are not able to flip field position on key drives throughout the game.  Needless to say, the Packers special teams unit desperately need to sure things up and cannot allow the Patriots special teams unit to completely flip the momentum of the game like the Rams special teams unit did last week.  

Players like Josh Jones and Oren Burks will need to make an impact in kick and punt return coverage and rookie punter JK Scott needs to be much more consistent with his punting.  The Packers need Scott to consistently pin the Patriots deep in their own territory by accumulating a string of high, long punts to give his punt coverage team a chance to flip field position.

2. Mike Pettine vs. Josh McDaniels- Can Pettine rachet up the pressure on Tom Brady from his days in the AFC East?

The question that everyone should be asking, is whether or not Mike Pettine can successfully dial up enough pressure to throw Tom Brady off of his game.  Last week, Pettine's blitz schemes clearly made their impact on third-year quarterback Jared Goff, however, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady have seen it all in their time together in New England and not many defensive coordinators have been able to slow down their aerial attack.  

Josh McDaniels is another relatively young, innovative offensive mind with a wealth of experience, that has been part of the New England culture for over a decade.  Over that time, he and quarterback Tom Brady have formed an amazing partnership which has allowed McDaniels to evolve his play calling to fit Brady's strengths during each phase of his career.  

With that being said, there are certainly multiple matchups that the Packers will need to be on the lookout for.  First of all, they cannot allow James White to have one on one matchups with the linebackers on third and short plays because Brady will exploit that matchup and convert third and short plays all night long.  Secondly, if the Packers hope to contain Julian Edelman, they should play Jaire Alexander on him in one on one coverage situations.  Jaire "Big Game" Alexander will relish the challenge of defending against one of the NFL's most consistent receivers and I would venture to guess that he would turn in another outstanding performance.  

The key to allowing the Packers secondary to shine will be Mike Pettine's ability to dial up effective blitz packages using the right player personnel combinations to consistently penetrate the Patriots offensive line.  This will not be an easy task for the Packers considering that they will be matched up against one of the NFL's greatest offensive line coaches, Dante Scarnecchia.  Scarnecchia's system and schemes have been a major part of the Patriots offensive consistency during the Brady years which has allowed he and Josh McDaniels to make collaborative in-game adjustments to the play calling according to how Pettine decides to attack their offensive line.  

In order for the Packers to win, I believe that Mike Pettine is going to have to use 5,6, and even 7 rushers to get to Tom Brady which will force the Packers to put their faith in their young secondary to defend and make plays in one on one matchups.  In order for the Packers secondary to turn in a solid performance, their front seven will have to consistently pressure and sack Tom Brady.  

3. Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady

Simply put, this matchup is not a battle to cement themselves as the greatest of all time, on the contrary; this is a battle of which quarterback is going to lead their team to a crucial victory as the final part of the season approaches.  This is a statement game for the Packers offense as the pressure is on them to play their best and the most complete game of the season.  This offense has struggled through far too many stretches where they can not seem to stay out of their own way, and as a result, there are parts of the game where they go stagnant and cannot move the ball down the field.

The gameplan this week should be rather straightforward.  The Packers should have a balanced offensive attack, make sure that Aaron Jones receives the majority of the rushing attempts, control the tempo of the game, protect the pocket, and unleash Aaron Rodgers.  

In order for the Packers to win, Aaron Rodgers will have to outplay Tom Brady and have his best game of the season.  As I said, this is a statement game and the time for talk is over.  Aaron Rodgers will need to show the football world why the Packers invested over $100 million of guaranteed money in him, put the team on his shoulders and throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns.


  • Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both throw for 400 yards.
  • Aaron Jones gets 15 carries and rushes for over a hundred yards and a touchdown.
  • The defense gets enough pressure to force Tom Brady into making a crucial turnover.
  • I think Aaron Rodgers has a magical Sunday Night performance and throws for a late touchdown to seal a dramatic 35-31 win for the Packers.   



David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PatrickGB's picture

As mentioned, special teams will play a key role Sunday night. Right now I don’t have much faith in our special teams vs the Patriots. BB has always done well with his and we have not. Sure, we have some very good players but for some reason or another one player seems to screw it up. Hopefully Aaron and our defense can overcome these gaffs

Nick Perry's picture

"Tom Brady believes that if Aaron Rodgers played in the Patriots system that he would throw for 7,000 yards every year"

This may or maynot be true BUT if Rodgers played for a franchise like New England, had a HC like Bill B and an owner like Robert Kraft, I have no doubt Rodgers would have been in at least 6 or 7 SB's by this time and won at least 4 maybe 5.

I also don't doubt Rodgers will win at least one more SB, hopefully 2 but I will ALWAYS be ticked off at the years wasted with Ted Thompson and the years of a once in a generation QB pissed away.

And NO...Making the playoffs and winning the NFC North doesn't cut it. Not with a QB like Rodgers.

Oh yeah...Keys to the game??

RUN the ball WITH Aaron Jones AND use the quick passing game and 2 minute offense. Keep McCarthy's crazy lapses in what's working and what's not and just let Rodgers run the show.

Kb999's picture

Amen NP, RUN the ball, eat clock, keep the BRADY BUNCH off the field.

Tarynfor12's picture

" In order for the Packers to win, Aaron Rodgers will have to outplay Tom Brady and have his best game of the season. Like I said, this is a statement game and the time for talk is over. Aaron Rodgers will need to show the football world why the Packers invested over $100 million of guaranteed money in him, put the team on his shoulders and throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. "

Rodgers can outplay Brady and still lose because BB can simply out coach MM.
Rodgers has shown the world why he got $100 mill often.
Rodgers throwing 400 yds and 4 TD's doesn't automatically equate to a win if Brady throws for 5 TD's and for even less yards.

Should be a good tight game and either an error by the QB or HC for either will likely determine the outcome. I give the nod to Brady and BB to not have the error.

PatrickGB's picture

While I agree that BB is the better coach, I also believe that it was TT that got us in this mess. He Screwed up the drafts and did not pick up the FAs that came available. I believe that even MM could have won more games if he had better players. Rodgers has his own issues but with a few more better players he could have made it work.

Bert's picture

I'm guessing this will be a very tight game and may come down to which QB has the ball last. I just can't help to think that the Packers will make a key blunder as has been their MO this year. Pats 33- Pack 31.

John Galt's picture

NE by 10

Lare's picture

The Packers could win if they play a mistake-free game. Haven't seen any indication yet that they can do that so I'll go with their PPG averages- Patriots 30- Packers 25.

packerbackerjim's picture

If Clark, Daniels and the occasional LB can pressure Brady,
He will look quite mortal, maybe throw a pick or two. No pressure, no win. JMHO.

ILPackerBacker's picture

If MM was stupid enough to tolerate the sub par talent brought in by teddie then he deserves a large part of the blame for that lack of talent

Community Guy's picture

the Packers can jump out early in this one and still lose because the Patriots are so good at making adjustments in the game.. it may come down to who has the ball last.. maybe the Packers finish one this time.

Rufus's picture

This game is going to be personal between Brady & Rodgers. Prime time Sunday Night these guys are going to try to show up one another. I see a lot of long passes. Brady dont want to loose on his home turf. Brady has a quick release but he is slow as molasses with his feet. The D has to hit him early. Make him gun shy even if they get a penalty.

Samson's picture

You need to be a little more realistic. Brady & AR are only on the field at the same time before & after the game. --- This is a game between HCs (BB & MM). --- Unfortunately, that (along with the home field advantage) gives NE a clear advantage. --- MM is not close to the level of BB.

Brian Ringwood's picture

there is no matchup between Rogers and Brady, there is between Brady and Packers D and between Rogers and NE D, now if rogers was to go out there and play safety, there would be a matchup, hopefully won by Rogers

Rufus's picture

Samson, I am realistic. These are big ego guys and thats a compliment and a fact. They take pride in there performance. Its going to come down to who can execute. There cant be any brain farts by the Packers. You give Brady time to throw he will eat you up. If he is rushed and you knock him on his ass a couple of times , he gets real nervous. Tom hates to get his hair messed up. Pack wins

12guage's picture

I'm having a pretty good feeling about this game simply because of the last 2 trade departures. Mccarthy is forced to play Jones more and therefore can't screw up the team's momentum with his dumb azz packages he inserted while Montgomery was there. Also I felt ha ha was more about him than the team and I wouldn't be surprised if the defense plays better without him.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

The wife talked me into going to the Casino to bet the Breeders Cup. She won a little I lost a little. We had a Great Night on slots. She won $1800, I won $600, so we decided to bet the GB game.

This for me is a Tough game to call. I'm not telling anyone to bet this way, but this is how I'm betting it. I've got GB + 5 1/2. That's a toss up. It looks like I'm the Wrong Way here. I'd rather see 2 or 3 Max. I'd feel a lot better about it. 5 1/2 might put too much on GB, so I'm hoping GB has played Poor enough to get the LOVE off of them. I'm also going against what I would normally do on this game, & taking the OVER 56 1/2. Like I told you in the Rams game. If you are going to go Under a 57 1/2, that was the game to do it. I was right both ways on that game. This is the same senereo. This should be a Solid OVER with these 2 teams, so the right way to bet would be to take the Under. I hope I'm thinking right here & taking the OVER. After not getting over that 57 1/2 in the Rams game, I'm hoping most betters have Cold Feet, & going Under the number. The Moneyline doesn't tell me anything. It's pretty even. I don't see an advantage either way, so I can't predict who will win this game outright. Let's hope GB can Cover & Win.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Nice to see you back here Tom. Sounds like your wife is doing better. Not a gambler but I hope you win tomorrow. Go Pack!!

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Dash Riprock, THANKS!! They put 2 Stents in. I don't know how they missed it the 1st time, but she had a large Vein behind her Heart that was blocked. She actually had 3 mild Heart Attacks. I think she is fixed. She is feeling much better.

This game figures to be a Shoot Out. A lot of these Shoot Outs Don't Materialize. I hope I have this one figured Right. As I've said before, I play the line more than the Teams. The +5 1/2 is a Toss Up. The Over 56 1/2 is really the Wrong way to play in this game. I'm hoping I'm playing with my Head, not my Heart. Hopefully GB can pull out a Victory here, when they are Not Suppose To.

Kb999's picture

Tom, great story. I wish you & yours the best

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Kb999, THANK YOU!!

Skip greenBayless's picture

That's great to hear Tom. So glad she's doing better. Hopefully you two can get back to your normal life including enjoying the Packers and all the winning that we are about to experience this week. I also see this as a high scoring game. I predicted 38-35 in favor of Green Bay.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

THANKS Dash!! Glad to have you as a Friend. It's hard to be Confident on this game. Hope I didn't Over Think It.

4thand1's picture

Great news Tom, best wishes.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

THANK YOU!! 4thand1

The TKstinator's picture

Yes, best wishes from me too.
I’m about as far from an expert as there is on these matters, but the whole thing which appears to make betting tough is not knowing ahead of time what’s going to happen.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

NE's RG and backup OG are out. Need to take advantage of that. Bulaga vs. Trey Flowers, who is NE's best rusher and good against the run. GB only runs right off tackle 5% of the time anyway. NE is poor against the run up the middle and to the left. I hope to watch Linsley, Taylor and Bahk putting in some good work. Can Gilmore cover Davante? Can MM scheme Davante to get coverage from the other DBs if necessary? NE is pretty good against TEs.

Alexander on Edelman and King on Gordon. Don't be stubborn though and if you need to flip the assignments, do so. I don't like Burks on White. Needs a safety. Gronk has been a little under the weather with back and leg issues, but he probably gets his.

henry113's picture

TGR, All is true but its all about getting pressure on Brady. If he has time to throw especially with 1 on 1 coverage it will be a long night. You want to flush him out of the pocket. Give him "Happy Feet".

The TKstinator's picture

TWill on White
Seems about right
Please don’t ruin my birthday tonight!

henry113's picture

Happy birthday TK
Brady will loose in dismay
Rodgers will have a big night
so enjoy the game then sleep tight !!

The TKstinator's picture

Just what the doctor ordered, gracias!

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