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Game of the Week: Patriots at Packers
Through the first quarter for the 2014 NFL campaign, the Patriots found themselves in an unlikely situation: a brewing quarterback controversy. Following a ghastly no-show in a Week 4 Monday night matchup, New England was just 2-2, with one of the wins an aesthetically-brutal display against the lowly Raiders. With the offense sputtering, there was growing concern that the venerable Tom Brady had lost his edge.
If a signal caller with five conference championships is liable to such criticism, any player could find himself on the hot seat. That proved to be true for Aaron Rodgers, as the Green Bay quarterback's relationship with a movie star came under question after the Packers fell to 1-2.
How things can change in two months. Since his shortcoming in Arrowhead, Brady has led the Pats to seven straight wins. Likewise, Rodgers quelled apprehension with his now-famous "R-E-L-A-X" pronouncement, backing up that sentiment with seven victories in the next eight contests. Brady and Rodgers now helm the hottest teams in football, with this weekend's matchup against each other serving as a possible preview of Super Bowl XLIX.
While the quarterbacks receive the accolades, they are far from the sole performers for their respective squads. The Packers and Patriots rank first and second in turnover differential, standings impelled by advantageous defenses. Both running games have also been effective: Eddie Lacy has found the end zone nine times in the last eight games, averaging 107 total yards in this time frame, while the Pats have used a barrage of assets in the backfield and are one of just three teams not to lose a fumble this fall.
And then there are the receiving corps. As good as Brady has been, one could make an argument that New England's most valuable player is Rob Gronkowski. During the club's winning streak, Gronk is averaging six receptions for 95 yards per outing, and has turned in nine touchdowns on the season. Fully recovered from a multitude of ailments, Gronkowski is the piston for this offense, and with the tight end at full strength, the New England air attack is borderline unstoppable.
Not to be outdone, the Packers flaunt playmakers of their own in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The duo has combined for 126 receptions, over 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns, and complement each other perfectly in terms of defensive focus.
Nevertheless, all eyes will be on Brady and Rodgers this Sunday. In his last seven games, Brady has tossed for 22 scores with only four picks in that span. Amazingly, Rodgers has bettered that ratio with 25 touchdowns to two interceptions. The two are neck-and-neck in terms of the MVP race, with Sunday's affair likely deciding the eventual victor. No matter the outcome, don't bet against either to make a long, prosperous run this January.
So who comes out on top in this battle in Lambeau? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com NFL simulation engine, the Patriots emerge victorious 51.4 percent of the time by an average margin of 24-23. For the rest of this week's scores, check below:
Please Note: The Titans-Texans, Redskins-Colts, Broncos-Chiefs and Dolphins-Jets games were re-simulated on 11/26 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 13 Predictions
|Matchup||Win %||Avg. Score|
|@ St. Louis Rams||71.6||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Indianapolis Colts||70.3||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||68.5||27||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||39.8||25||Boxscore|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||60.2||28||Simulate Game|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||60.2||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||59.5||26||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||44.8||22||Boxscore|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||55.2||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Buffalo Bills||53.3||23||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||51.4||24||Boxscore|
|@ Green Bay Packers||48.6||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||43.2||23||Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||42.0||22||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||58.0||26||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||42.0||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||41.8||23||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||30.7||17||Simulate Game|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||29.4||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19.5||17||Simulate Game|
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