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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Packers vs. Patriots Preview

Ryan Ellerbusch

As the NFL regular season comes to a close, and the playoffs quickly approaching, the Green Bay Packers (8-5) may be on the outside looking in.

Losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a concussion in the second quarter of last week’s 7-3 loss against the lowly Detroit Lions, Mike McCarthy and the Packers medical staff announced today that Rodgers is ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots (11-2).

Starting in place of Rodgers will be third year quarterback Matt Flynn, the 7th round 2008 draft pick out of LSU. Flynn has thrown just 43 passes in his NFL career thus far, but will be asked to lead the Packers into Foxborough and keep the Packers in playoff contention.

Countering Flynn at quarterback for New England will be Tom Brady, the NFL's top-rated quarterback with a 109.9 passer rating. With the Packers’ Cullen Jenkins and Frank Zombo also ruled out for Sunday’s game, it is going to be a tough task indeed for the Packers’ defense to stop the high powered Patriots offense who rank first in the NFL in points scored per game.

With Flynn making his first NFL start and a lackluster Packers running game consisting of James Starks, Brandon Jackson, and John Kuhn, the Packers playoff hopes will dwindle this week if they lose and the NFC North leading Chicago Bears can beat the Brett Favre-less Vikings too.

The difference makers for Green Bay on offense and defense will need to be Greg Jennings and the linebacking core of Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk, who have been consistent performers for the Packers all season long.

The line for Sunday night’s game may be 13 points in the Patriots’ favor, but the Packers feel that if they can upset the New England Patriots without Aaron Rodgers, anything is possible heading into the playoffs down the stretch.

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