The 8-3 Green Bay Packers and the 9-2 New England Patriots will meet at Lambeau Field for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff on Sunday. But before the Week 13 cross-conference game gets underway, here is a look at some of the pregame notes between the two sides.
Packers Quick to Start at Home: Green Bay has looked at home in Green Bay since Oct. 2, establishing a 66-0 lead over the team’s last four first quarters there. And by halftime, the cumulative score of those contests versus the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles has been 128-9. The Packers haven’t lost at Lambeau in the regular season since Dec. 22, 2013.
Rodgers Following Suit: Minimizing the extent of mistakes has been integral to the Packers’ success at home, and that goes back to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The seventh-year starter hasn’t thrown an interception in front of his home crowd since Week 13 of the 2012 regular season, and while he’s thrown just three in all this season, the Patriots are looking to make the most of that two-year anniversary. New England’s defense has netted five interceptions since Oct. 26.
Cobb, Nelson and the Coverage: Packers wideouts Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will draw the attention of the Patriots’ secondary, having combined for 126 receptions, 1,903 yards and 19 touchdowns this year. With Cobb’s multifaceted impact from the slot and the flanker, as well as Nelson’s back-shoulder impact from split end, much will hinge on the dispersal of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. On the surface, Revis looks to be in position to match up opposite Cobb, while the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Browner looks to match up in press-man opposite Nelson with safety help overhead from Devin McCourty. The two Patriots corners held Detroit Lions receivers Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson to a total of four catches last week. A mixture of man and zone coverage is expected to be on the docket again for them this week.
Lacy Leaving a Mark: Coming off a 27-touch, 138-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 12, Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy is set to carry his momentum forward against the Patriots. And while his 672 rushing yards rank just 20th in the NFL this campaign, his 333 receiving yards have added a dynamic to the downhill power he provides. Stopping that downhill power will call upon linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, as well as strong safety Patrick Chung to contain the edges and flats beyond lane-clogging defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Big-Back Day for New England: A week after receiving halfback Shane Vereen got the start for the Patriots and logged 62 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, keep an eye on the 250-pound LeGarrette Blount and the 225-pound Jonas Gray versus Green Bay. Unlike the Detroit Lions’ front, which headed into the Nov. 23 tilt with a league-best 68 rush yards allowed per game, the Packers’ 3-4 has been susceptible to bigger backs on the way to a 30th-ranked run defense.
Presence of Two: Patriots flex tight end Tim Wright caught his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season last week, all while “Y” tight end Rob Gronkowski brought in three catches for 62 yards. Versus Green Bay, the two will look to continue their symbiotic relationship behind a committed run and play-action passing game. But the likes of linebacker Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, as well as safeties Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will look to do otherwise. Matthews will be a variable watch for on passing downs, while Perry has been listed as questionable to play against New England. Regardless of their utilization, it’s likely to be a platoon for the Packers, and Hyde and Clinton-Dix will likely be tasked with defending over top. Dime linebacker Brad Jones could also be in the mix to deter the two-tight end sets.