4:25 PM ET, November 30, 2014
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Although they've faced little resistance during a supposedly daunting stretch, the New England Patriots could be heading into their toughest test yet at Lambeau Field.
The top two scoring teams in the NFL meet Sunday when AFC-leading New England seeks its eighth straight win and the first-place Green Bay Packers look to remain unbeaten at home.
The Patriots (9-2) have continued to roll in the midst of a challenging portion of schedule against four consecutive division leaders. They won the first three by an average of 23.0 points, defeating Detroit 34-9 at home Sunday to allow Green Bay to move past the Lions for the NFC Central lead.
New England also beat Denver 43-21 on Nov. 2 and Indianapolis 42-20 on Nov. 16.
"It's not realistic for us to expect to continue to blow teams out like that, or, I don't want to say blow out, but win by a large margin," coach Bill Belichick said. "I can't really put my finger on what it is. I think it's a culmination of things and preparation, I think, is at the forefront of that."
The Patriots are scoring at an exceptional rate, averaging 39.5 points during their winning streak -- 7.0 better than their league-leading average. Tom Brady has shined during the run with 315.3 passing yards per game, 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions, though all of those picks have come in the past four games.
Rob Gronkowski has 27 receptions for 403 yards and five touchdowns in his last four contests, while fellow tight end Tim Wright caught two touchdown passes Sunday and has scored on six of his 23 receptions.
"I would just say taking it one play at a time, not looking at the scoreboard, keeps the offense rolling," Wright said. "It all builds up at the end of the game when you look at the scoreboard at the points that we're beating teams by."
The Patriots would certainly like to get off to a fast start against Green Bay (8-3), which has outscored opponents 66-0 in the first quarter and 128-9 in the first 30 minutes of their last four home games.
"We're playing Green Bay in Green Bay," Belichick said. "That's where they've been very dominant, really, in terms of getting ahead and playing from ahead, first quarter. The numbers are staggering."
The Packers have won their first five at Lambeau by an average of 26.8 points after scoring a combined 108 in one-sided victories over Chicago and Philadelphia. It wasn't easy on the road last week, however, as they held on to win 24-21 over Minnesota to jump past Detroit for first place.
Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 656 yards in the last two home games and 18 touchdowns without an interception in 144 attempts in Green Bay on the season.
Overall, he's thrown for 2,957 yards with 30 scores and three picks for a league-high passer rating of 119.3.
Jordy Nelson leads the league with 123.2 receiving yards per game at home and has scored at least one touchdown in all five at Lambeau. Randall Cobb has 20 catches for 322 yards and two scores in his last three at home.
"Teams are going to take away what we do best, and what we've done best is get the ball to Jordy and Randall," Rodgers said. "They've had big statistical seasons so (opponents) try to take them out of the game."
The bruising back rushed for a season-best 125 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 25 carries against the Vikings while playing through a stomach illness.
"He's a workhorse," said Rodgers, who faces a New England defense that has five interceptions in the last four games. "We need him in the winter months."
A week after Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns, recent New England signee LeGarrette Blount made the most of his opportunity with two scores Sunday after Gray missed practice two days before the game.
The Packers are vulnerable against the run, ranking 30th with 136.7 yards allowed per game.
Rodgers missed the most recent meeting with New England due to a concussion as Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes in a 31-27 home win Dec. 19, 2010. Brady threw for four scores in a 35-0 victory in his only game at Lambeau on Nov. 19, 2006.
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|Avg Points Allowed||2.2||1.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 2-2|
|Dec 19, 2010||NE 31, GB 27|
|Nov 19, 2006||NE 35, @GB 0|
|Oct 13, 2002||NE 10, GB 28|
Going into their game on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have been on of the most consistent QB not only throughout their careers...but specifically this season. They both own the 1st and 2nd longest active streaks for games with a QBR of 50 or above.[+]
Sunday will be Aaron Rodgers' 99th career start in the NFL. How does he compare with Tom Brady through this point in his career? Brady had more wins, but Rodgers has out-produced him everywhere else.[+]
QB Comparison in 1st 98 Starts
In their careers, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been known as the perpetual favorites...the best QB, the best passers, the most clutch. But this weekend when they face off, it is Aaron Rodgers who is listed as the favorite according to Las Vegas...and that may be a good thing...for both Brady and Rodgers. Brady is 4-0 when listed as the underdog this season, while Rodgers is 8-0 when listed as the favorite.[+]
Rob Gronkowski has been one of the biggest sparks behind the Patriots offensive improvement. The Patriots have scored a league-high 15 touchdowns by tight ends this season. The Packers have allowed only 2 TD to tight ends this season, tied for 2nd fewest in the NFL.[+]
Rob Gronkowski This Season
Brandon LaFell was limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury and he is very questionable for the Patriots game against the Packers this weekend. LaFell has been the Patriots most valuable, not just WR, but offensive target since he broke out with 11 targets in Week 8, which was his most in his NFL career. LaFell has double-digit targets in 3 of his last 4 games, which are all career highs for him.[+]
Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have combined for 126 catches, 1,903 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns for the Packers this season. With Nelson's next Rec TD, he'll join Cobb as the first set of Packers teammates with 10 Rec TD in a single season.[+]
The Packers are 5-0 at home this season, averaging an NFL-best 43.8 PPG at home. The Packers have scored 50+ in each of their last 2 home games. The Packers have outscored their opponents 128-9 in the 1st half of their last 4 home games. Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home since Week 13 of the 2012 season. His 11 straight games and 322 consecutive passes without an interception at home are both NFL records (Elias).[+]
Packers This Season
The Patriots rank 2nd in completion percentage allowed to wide receivers this season and have been even better since Brandon Browner joined the lineup in Week 7. The Packers have an NFL-high 22 receiving TD by wide receivers this season.[+]
Patriots Defense vs Wide Receivers - This Season
With the Patriots going to Lambeau Field this weekend, keep in mind Bill Belichick is 2 wins away from tying Curly Lambeau for the 4th-most wins by a head coach including playoffs in NFL history[+]
Most Head Coaching Wins Including Playoffs - NFL History
Aaron Rodgers was off target on 4 of his first 8 pass attempts of the game (all overthrows), but missed on just 2 of his final 30 attempts (both underthrows).
The Packers 1st sack of the game came late in the 4th quarter and setup a Patriots missed FG. The Packers have now recorded a sack in 32 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.
Tom Brady was 9-of-16 for 86 yards when the Packers sent at least 5 pass rushers, tied for his most pass attempts against the blitz in a game this season. Brady, who entered Sunday with a league-high 93.1 Total QBR against the blitz, fell well short of his season averages. In the 1st half, the Packers blitzed on 10-of-16 dropbacks. The Patriots averaged 9.3 yards per dropback overall. After halftime, Green Bay blitzed on only 6-of-20 dropbacks, and New England averaged 4.4 yards per dropback overall.[+]
Tom Brady Passing vs Blitz
Packers outscoring opponents 79-0 at home in the 1st quarter of their last 5 games
Aaron Rodgers averaged 3.11 seconds from snap to pass Sunday against the Patriots, his highest average in a game this season and his highest since Week 13 of the 2012 season. Rodgers was pressured (sack or duress) on only 6 of his 43 dropbacks in the game.
According to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, there have been 4 different teams who have had at least a share of the best odds to win the Pro Football Championship on a given week and since the start of Week 12, we have two new teams leading the way...New England and Green Bay, who play each other this weekend.[+]
Best Odds to Win Pro Football Champ by Week
Aaron Rodgers has 20 touchdowns and no interceptions at home this season, with 2 more home games left. The most passing touchdowns without an interception at home is 10 by Steve Young in 1987. Rodgers is on pace to shatter that mark.
The Patriots lost for the first time against the NFC North since their first game against that division in Week 6 of 2002 to the Packers. Their streak of 14 straight wins against the NFC North was the longest since the creation of the division in 2002.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 282 yards in the 1st half Sunday. That's his 3rd highest total in any half of his career.
The Packers gained 49 yards on their 1st 3 plays from scrimmage, but just 4 yards on the next 5 plays.
Aaron Rodgers attempted 23 passes in the 1st half Sunday and 13 of those were thrown deeper than 10 yards downfield. Rodgers hadn't attempted more than 12 such passes in an entire game this season entering Sunday.
Jordy Nelson's 45-yard TD reception in the 2nd quarter was his 6th score this season of at least 40 yards, the most in the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers aired it out early and often against the Patriots defense, throwing 14 passes that traveled at least 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in the 1st half alone for a season-high 228 yards. That matched the most such attempts for Rodgers in a game this season. Rodgers kept it conservative in the 2nd half, with no passes traveling 10 or more yards past the line. Rodgers' average throw distance was 5.3 yards in the 2nd half after posting a 12.2 average in the 1st half.[+]
Aaron Rodgers Passing 10+ Yards Downfield - 1st Half Sunday
New England is 4-0 in games as underdogs this season, averaging 41.3 points per game with an average margin of victory of 21.3 points. The Packers are currently favored by 3.0 points for Sunday.[+]
Patriots As Underdogs This Season
Davante Adams had 90 receiving yards in the 1st quarter Sunday. He hadn't gained more than 77 yards in a game in his career entering the week.
Aaron Rodgers was given strong pass protection Sunday, as he was pressured (sack or duress) on only 6 of his 43 dropbacks overall (14%) and on just 2 of his 25 1st half dropbacks (8%). On average Rodgers has been pressured on 23% of his dropbacks this season.
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