While Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots may not be a must-win for the Packers, the result will surely provide some insight into the type of play that Mike McCarthy’s team is capable of delivering against quality opponents in the postseason.
Though the Packers and Patriots share a number of similarities, the quality of wins between the two teams varies greatly. New England has beaten each of their last four opponents by 22 points or more, including lopsided wins over the play-bound Broncos, Colts and Lions. Meanwhile, the Packers’ most impressive win of the season came two weeks ago against a Nick Foles-less Eagles team.
The Patriots top just about every major power rankings, not having lost since Week 4 of the regular season and boasting the league’s No.1 scoring offense. The New England defense is just good enough, per usual, ranked in the middle of the league versus both the pass and run. It seems like a near certainty that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will need to score over 30 points to surpass New England’s production on offense.
The Packer defense was unable to slow Drew Brees in October and gets an equally-difficult task in Tom Brady on Sunday. His favorite target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is the team’s overwhelming leader in both receiving yards (812) and touchdowns (9). Gronk is destined to pose a challenge for Packers safeties Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde, who have allowed big games to tight ends this season.
Sunday’s Packers-Patriots showdown is surely the most hyped game of the week, with many viewing it as a preview of Super Bowl XLIX. But the bigger storyline in this game may be Rodgers versus Brady – a conversation that has grown stronger throughout the regular season.