Rodgers-Brady duel highlights Packers-Patriots clash
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came up just short last weekend in an attempt to end the undefeated season of the Los Angeles Rams.
Rodgers and his teammates get another crack at ending another perfect record when they visit Gillette Stadium and try to hand the New England Patriots their first home loss of the season.
Never mind the fact that the Patriots also have won five in a row and Green Bay is winless on the road. The prime-time clash in Foxborough, Mass., is one of the most anticipated of the season due to the quarterback matchup featuring two players who have combined to win five NFL Most Valuable Player awards.
New England's Tom Brady and Rodgers will square off for only the second time in their storied careers -- a matchup between what many observers feel are in the conversation for the greatest at their position in this or any other era.
"You're seeing two of the best -- two of the best of all-time," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think you really appreciate not only what they do on the field from a quarterback position and their contributions to the game of football -- they're on top of that -- but what they do as men outside the game of football.
"If you want to study how to play quarterback, you need to watch that game Sunday night because you're going to see all the little things. You're going to see fundamentals, you're going to see the at-the-line responsibility. From pure quarterback play, I think this is definitely one you want to watch."
Brady has an unmatched resume, winning five Super Bowl championships and four Super Bowl MVPs, but that doesn't lessen the respect that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has for Rodgers, who guided Green Bay to a 26-21 win at New England in November 2014 in the only previous meeting between the star QBs.
"Well, he killed us the last time we played him. I mean, he's a great player," Belichick said of Rodgers. "He does everything well. He reads coverages well, very accurate throwing the ball. He's got a great touch down the field, short, intermediate. Very mobile in the pocket, extends plays, really good vision down the field, uses the cadence well, is a good situational player.
"I mean, he's one of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League, no question about it."
Rodgers was hindered for much of the first few weeks by a knee injury suffered in the season opener, but he has thrown for 2,283 yards with 13 touchdowns against one interception. His top target is Davante Adams, who has emerged as one of the league's elite receivers with three consecutive games of at least 132 yards.
Brady already has thrown seven interceptions -- one fewer than 2017 -- but has 16 touchdown passes and 2,200 yards despite playing with a patchwork wide receiver corps for the first month of the season.
"He's been a phenomenal player in this league, so he's a fun one to watch when you're a younger player and trying to figure out what he's doing," said Rodgers. "Obviously, we play a little bit different style of game but the stuff that he does well is stuff that over my career I've tried to incorporate into my own game."
Despite the brilliance of the quarterbacks, the defenses and running games could be the difference in the outcome. Green Bay ranks fifth in the league against the pass (221.7 yards) while New England is 27th (277.3). However, Rodgers has been sacked twice as many times (22) as Brady.
The Patriots were without rookie running back Sony Michel last week due to a knee injury. Michel, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns before he was hurt in Week 7 at Chicago. Backfield mate James White leads the team with 55 catches and six receiving touchdowns.
Green Bay's Aaron Jones, who missed the first two games of the season while serving a suspension, established season highs with 12 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Rams. With the trade of Ty Montgomery to Baltimore this week, Jones is expected to receive an expanded role.
"I'm fine with touching the ball more," said Jones, who is averaging 6.2 yard per carry. "It'd be funny to me if you showed me a guy who didn't want to carry the ball more."
Updated November 1, 2018