From LA to NY, they are saying this is a Super Bowl-caliber contest of the two best teams (New England 9-2) in the NFL. New England comes to Lambeau Field for that preview.
Green Bay will see game time temperatures just above freezing for a high, with cloudy skies and a zero chance of snow.
Eddie Lacy. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Just a month ago, doubt loomed in Green Bay after a third loss that was not just a loss, but a surrender of the second half on Green Bay’s part – not typical of a Mike McCarthy team.
After the Saints won, McCarthy made sure it wouldn’t happen again.
It hasn’t, so far.
This Patriots-Packers matchup is a perfect test of MM’s corrections. In our view, McCarthy’s changes are permanent. If not, win, lose or draw, you have to like the changes Ted Thompson made this spring, and the new look inspired by Dom Capers’ defense.
The cake is packaged by McCarthy’s playbook, play calling that bring points, and plenty of them.
But what if the Patriots win this one?
A loss would only slow progress.
We have seen the Packers come back with a major missile offense, getting stingy in giving up points, with an array of tipped balls, interceptions, sacks and swarms of tacklers. It came together a little late, but it is together.
The Pats are the league’s most consistent contender year after year. With Tom Brady now the most mature, poised and capable quarterback, he still has a few things to prove.
Tom Brady can turn a game around in a minute, literally.
Can Dom Capers’ defense hold Brady’s offense in check?
The Packers defense is capable of shutting most anyone down. Brady, now older, has an edge in experience, but the Packers have a new talent pool on defense that rocks when the going is good, though fragile in its youth.
New England’s defense is fast, strong and experienced.
The defense has looked great for Green Bay since the switches at inside linebacker.
Speaking of which, the Matthews groin injury has subsided, and Clay is off the injury report.
With Matthews the exception, the injury report is the same as last week.
Sitton and Lang will play, while Perry is out.
The success of the Packers rides on Rodgers and Lacy while the defense depends on Matthews and Peppers with the D-backs coming into their own.
Without lining up and matching player to player on both teams, these two teams are as close to even as they can get.
So close to even, it might just depend on the coaching staff to be the difference in this game.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph
For my money I’ll go along with the Packers. The ring leader, MM (Mr. under-rated), and Rodgers control the pace and play calling.
With the rush controlled, they can move the ball like rolling thunder. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements‘ offenses have ranked in the top-10 eight times in 10 seasons.
Lacy breaking away, the Rodgers style of a half-hurried “hurry-up offense” scores and scores, while holding the wrong defensive players on the field together spells yardage and points.
If the Packers do not come out too tight to roll, they will not be stopped.
Getting in Brady’s face, and getting in his face often will shake up his rhythm, and force mistakes.
The defense must come at him to spell trouble. This defense will be the difference.
Green Bay wins at home – by two.