Player to Player: Week 13—New England Patriots

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Tom Brady and the New England Patriots vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field. It really doesn’t get any better than this for a regular season game. New England comes in with a seven game winning streak and is arguably playing the best football of any team in the NFL. Meanwhile the Packers have been near unstoppable at Lambeau, winning their last four games in Green Bay by 21 points or more. This very well could be the first and last matchup of Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady unless they matchup in a Super Bowl. So buckle up, enjoy the ride and get ready for an intense football game from start to finish.

Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb vs. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner

Without trying to be cliché, these two matchups are worth the price of admission alone. Not only should it be an entertaining battle between the corners and the receivers, it very well could decide the outcome of the game. Many believe that the Patriots will matchup Revis on Nelson and do everything in their power to shutdown the dynamic receiver. They could go that route, but as of late Patriots have been putting Revis on opposing teams number two receivers and he’s shut them down. Meanwhile on the other side of the field they will use Browner to mug the number one receiver at the line of scrimmage and play a safety over the top. With the way Revis has been playing, this essentially takes away the top two targets and forces the backs, tight ends and backup receivers to try and win the game. The Vikings used a similar philosophy against the Packers last week and had success. Green Bay was able to answer as Eddie Lacy, Andrew Quarless and company were able to help out in the middle of the field. It also helped that the Vikings didn’t have a Darrelle Revis to put on Cobb. If you feel like watching some matchup football this weekend, take your eye off the ball and watch the receivers whenever you get a chance.

Dom Capers vs. Tom Brady

I’m cheating a bit and stealing some material from a previous post when the Packers were playing against Drew Brees. I wrote how Capers has really struggled against elite quarterbacks and would have a tough time containing Brees. Brees responded by going 27/32, 311 yards, 3tds, 0 ints and a 138.4 quarterback rating.

In games that Dom Capers has been defensive coordinator of the Packers he has arguably had nine games against elite quarterbacks (and about two drives of garbage time from Kurt Warner).  Those nine games include four games against Brett Favre, one against Kurt Warner, one against Tom Brady, and three against Drew Brees. In those nine games (and two drives) their combined numbers are:

216 for 324, with a 66.7% completion rate for 2,684 yards, 24 TDs 4 INTs, and a QB rating of 111.7.

If you take out Favre’s last season when he was far from elite, the numbers are as follows:

183 for 257, with a 71.2% completion rate for 2264 yards, 24 TDs 0 INTs, and a QB rating of 129.3.

That means other than Favre’s final (disastrous) year in Minnesota, Capers hasn’t been able to come up with even one INT against elite quarterbacks.

Dom Capers defense is predicated on unique looks and causing confusion for opposing quarterbacks, often resulting in sacks or turnovers. When he has played against more knowledgeable, smarter quarterbacks they aren’t fooled by his chaos and instead tend to pick apart a often helpless defense. This will be a huge challenge for the defense and it will be up to Capers and his personnel to respond.

Corey Linsley vs. Vince Wilfork

This is another fun matchup that will be worth watching as the game goes along. On one side we have the stellar play from rookie center Corey Linsley who is garnering Pro Bowl consideration and mentions in his first year as an NFL player. On the other side you have the grizzled veteran in Vince Wilfork who is entering the twilight of his career but still playing at a very high level. Linsley’s matched up well against pretty much every type of player that he’s played against, but there aren’t many players with the strength/size of Vince Wilfork. Both players games are predicated on strength which is what makes this matchup so fun to watch. If the Patriots do end up taking away Cobb and Nelson as planned, it will be important that Lacy gets established in the run game. If that is going to happen, Linsley will have to hold his own against Wilfork and get enough movement to create the holes that Lacy needs.

Gronk vs. Everyone

Sometimes you simply don’t have a player capable of matching up against an elite athlete like Rob Gronkowski. Sometimes it takes an army. AJ Hawk, Brad Jones, Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Micah Hyde, Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward could all end up getting Gronk responsibilities at some point or another in the game. It wouldn’t surprise me to see double coverage and even triple coverage at times to try and contain The Gronk. Make no mistake about it, Gronkowski is the biggest weapon that Brady has on offense and while the Patriots will scheme to take away Cobb and Nelson, the Packers will likewise try and take away Gronkowski from Brady. It’s easier said than done, and everyone will need to pitch in and help if the Packers are to have any success containing the big man.

Julius Peppers vs. Sebastian Vollmer 

There is a good possibility that Nick Perry misses another game this week and Mike Neal and Jayrone Elliott struggled to get much pressure against Minnesota. If that’s the case, it may be up to Julius Peppers to provide pressure on his own, without getting much help from the other side. Sebastian Vollmer has been the Patriots best offensive lineman this season and has been playing at a high level. Pass blocking is his speciality and the matchup against Peppers will be paramount to both teams success. Peppers has looked motivated and rejuvenated with his new team and in his new position. Another big game from Peppers could mean a win for Green Bay and some Pro Bowl talk as well.

Quick Hits:

  • Which running back will the Patriots roll with this week? Two weeks ago Jonas Gray had one of the best games of the year for any running back but overslept and missed meetings and was benched for last weeks game. Last week newly resigned  LaGarrette Blount got the bulk of the carries and had a big game as well. It’s likely Blount, Gray and Vereen all get playing time depending on the situation at hand.
  • Which team can get the running game going first? Everyone wants to talk about Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers, and for good reason, but the quarterback that is most likely to have the better game is the quarterback who has the compliment of a strong running game.
  • Mike McCarthy vs. Bill Belichick–These two are two great football minds that are constantly in touch with the pulse of their football team. This game will likely come down to some tough decisions and the coach that navigates the game better will come away with the win.
  • Andrew Quarless and Jamie Collins is a matchup that will be tough for Green Bay. Quarless isn’t exactly dynamic in the passing game and Collins is one of the better coverage linebackers in the game. Quarless will have to work hard to get open. That said he’s coming into the game with good momentum and has played well the past few weeks. Green Bay will need him to continue that good play this Sunday.
  • Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady–They both wear number 12.

Thank you for reading. Andy Herman is a staff writer  for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @SconnieSports. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

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Profile photo of Andy Herman

By Andy Herman

Andy Herman is a staff writer for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @SconnieSports.

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