Meet Me At Gillette, It’s Going Down

AFC Game Of The Week

Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots

Packers: Although they lost, I took one thing away and that was how they were able to hang with the Los Angeles Rams and I was impressed. Throughout the first half, they were really dominating the ball both offensively and defensively. They got the running game going, Aaron Rodgers, of course, did his usual damage, but my biggest takeaway was their defense and how they made things difficult for one of the best offenses in the league in the Los Angeles Rams. They fell short because the former Packer, Ty Montgomery decided he wanted to be the hero and run the ball out of the end zone and he ended up fumbling it instead which took any type of chance for the Packers to get the football in the hands of their best player. Although it was a loss, this was by far the best effort I’ve seen from them all season long and to be honest, I didn’t think they would remain in the game for as long as they did against the Rams. Right now, the NFC is somewhat wide open. At the top, you have LA, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers as three of the better teams in the conference and everything else after that is so up in the air but I’m not going to count the Packers out because they have one guy that simply makes all the difference. The season is far from over and there’s still a ton of football left to be played. They begin their second half of the season in Massachusetts on Sunday night against a league powerhouse.

Patriots: Five wins and counting. There’s no team in the league that is more attentive to detail than the New England Patriots and it shows every season and that’s why they are so successful. Let’s dive into this winning streak of theirs: In four of the five wins, their offense was on fire and they scored 38 points in four straight games (38 against the Dolphins, 38 against the Colts, 43 against the Chiefs and another 38 against the Bears). Monday night against the Bills was a different type of performance and I loved every second of it. Although Tom didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he was still able to throw for 324 yards. What won this game was the performance of their defense and for weeks, I’ve been stating that their weakness is on the defensive side of the football and bend but don’t break can work for only a long period of time. They needed a performance like this and the pick six from Devin McCourty was what sealed the deal. No matter how dominant a team may be in the division, the divisional games will always be the toughest because the other three teams know just how good you’ve been and you’re going to get their best fight and the Patriots did indeed get that from the Bills on Monday night and they struggled to really pull away from Buffalo, but then it finally happened in the second half. It’s just all starting to fall into place once again for them. Another winning streak, another division title within reach and they’ll be looking to get another first-round bye in the AFC playoffs for the ninth straight season which is absolutely outstanding but if you ask any coach or player in that locker room, that’s the last thing on their mind and they focus on one task at a time and their next battle will be a Sunday night showdown with the Green Bay Packers.

Packers Player To Watch: Geronimo Allison– Every football team has that hidden weapon on their offense and this kid happens to be just that for the Packers. He’s another receiver that can get open over the middle, he lines up in the slot and he’s become that safety valve for Aaron and teams know he’s either going to target Randall Cobb or Davante Adams.

Patriots Player To Watch: Stephon Gilmore– It’s games like this why he was signed by the Patriots. For the defense to be successful as a whole, the secondary must truly lock down the weapons on the outside down the field so the front seven can create pressure up front and a turnover can happen. This Patriots defense isn’t built to rush the passer, but they can do enough to make sure he makes a bad throw. I expect to see Gilmore shadowing Adams throughout the game.

Final Analysis: This is a very special treat for every football fan and analyst. This is the equivalent of LeBron James and Kevin Durant facing each other and believe it or not, this will be just the second time ever that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady will square off against each other. When we get these quarterback battles, we have to appreciate them more now than in previous years because we don’t know how much longer these guys have. We used to get Brady and Peyton each and every year but now that Peyton is retired, these quarterback showdowns have become very far and few. Both these men have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. Brady has stated that he’s stayed up late at night to watch Aaron play and Aaron has admitted that Tom is the greatest ever to play the position. When I skimmed through the schedules in April after they were released, this was one of the first five things that caught my eye. It’s finally here and I can’t wait for this to take place.

Prediction: Patriots 38 Packers 31