The 3-3-1 Green Bay Packers almost shocked the football world in Week 8 but came up 3 points shy of beating the (still) undefeated Los Angeles Rams, 27-29. It looked like the Packers defense was going to hold the Rams scoreless in the first half until they gave up a safety with less than 3 minutes to go and a touchdown with about 20-seconds to go.
Even with his knee brace limiting his mobility, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still having an impressive season passing for 326.1 yards per game and 13 touchdowns with only a single interception. However, Rodgers and his Packers are 0-3 on the road this season, so he’ll have to put up some exceptional numbers to come out on top in noisy Foxborough.
The New England Patriots are 6-2 after a fourth quarter 85-yard pick-six by free safety Devin McCourty put them out of reach of the Buffalo Bills, 25-6. Up until that point, the Pats looked a bit unsteady against a Bills’ (then) fourth-ranked defense that held quarterback Tom Brady and company to just four field goals in the first three quarters.
Brady went 29-for-45 for 324 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and the Bills sacked him twice in a shaky win that was supposed to be an easy given for the first place Patriots. New England has dealt with injuries, suspensions and tardiness this season, yet they’re on a five-game win streak that the inconsistent Green Bay Packers will attempt to disrupt.
If the Packers win this matchup, they’ll move to 4-3 and continue to chase the Bears and Vikings, who are both one game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North. But if the Patriots come out on top, they’ll be 7-2 and well on their way to their tenth straight AFC East division title since 2009.
Who’s favored to win this Week 9 Packers-Patriots matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Packers and the Patriots and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Packers offense excellent but needs to win more
The Packers are a whole lot better than their 3-3-1 record would indicate. Their offense moves the ball an average of 412.1 yards per game (ranked 5th), they gain an average of 6.2 yards per play (7th best) and score an average of 25 points per game (13th most). Two of their three losses were by one score and they only tied the Vikings in Week 2 because their kicker missed a last second game-winner.
Rodgers’ offense proved they can hang score-for-score with the Rams and chances are they’ll have to prove it again with the high-scoring Patriots. That can only happen if the Packers protect Rodgers better – they’ve allowed him to be sacked 22 times, tied for fifth most in the league.
The Packers have plenty of offensive weapons in place - running back Aaron Jones, tight end Jimmy Graham and receivers Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb. They can definitely gain yards, but when it comes to winning, they’ve only closed the deal half the time, a stat they hope to improve against New England.
The 2018 Patriots offense almost there
As good as Brady’s eleventh-ranked offense is right now, it can be a whole lot better. Tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t had a 100-yard game or scored a touchdown since the season opener. Rookie running back Sony Michel (knee) has been temporarily replaced with a wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson.
The good news for New England is Julian Edelman is playing well, catching 9-of-10 targets for 104 yards against the Bills while deep threat Josh Gordon is learning the playbook and contributing on the field despite his unpunished tardiness off the field. And though running back James White struggled on the ground against the Bills, rushing eight times for only 15 yards and a touchdown, he caught 10-for-13 passes for 79 yards.
The Patriots are 4-0 at home this season, and chances are Brady hasn’t forgotten the last time he’s faced Rodgers, a 21-26 Week 13 loss in Green Bay back in 2014.
Packers Defense ranks 12th in the league, Patriots D ranks 25th
The Packers sacked Jared Goff five times in Week 8 – nose tackle Kenny Clark had 2.0 of them and linebackers Blake Martinez, Clay Matthews and Kyler Fackrell each had 1.0 apiece. Green Bay is tied for sixth-most total sacks with 23 of them, but they’ll be hunting down Brady, who’s only been sacked 11 times this season, tied for 27th least.
One Green Bay defensive player to keep an eye on is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the free safety who (so far) this season has three interceptions, three passes defended, a forced fumble, a sack, 27 combined tackles and 2 quarterback hits.
New England’s defense is ranked 27th against the pass, but they’re tied for second-most interceptions with 11. They’ve only sacked opposing quarterbacks 12 times (only three teams have less), and they allow opponents to convert 45.1 percent of their third downs, ranked 27th overall.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) sat out Week 8 so his injury may still be a factor in Week 9. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped up against the Bills and registered seven tackles and 2.0 sacks, while end Trey Flowers add six tackles of his own.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Green Bay’s rookie punter, JK Scott, was drafted in the fifth round and has punted 27 times for a net average of 39.8 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the NFL.
New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 29 times but for a net average of 37.7 yards per punt, ranked 28th in the NFL.
Green Bay’s veteran placekicker, Mason Crosby, who has been with the Packers his whole career since 2007, is 17-for-22, his longest has been a 53-yarder. He’s missed two extra point attempts (14/16).
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, is 17-for-19, his longest was a 50-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (26/26).
Green Bay’s punt returner, cornerback Tramon Williams, is ranked 51st in the league in return average. He’s returned 8 punts for 41 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.1 yards per return, his longest for 13 yards.
New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 47th in the league in return average. He’s returned 4 punts for 23 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.8 yards per return, his longest was for 15 yards.
Packers–Patriots prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Patriots favored over the Packers by 6.5 with an over/under of 57.50.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the over and has it Patriots 37, Packers 33
John Breech takes the over and predicts it Packers 38, Patriots 34