Preview: Packers at Patriots

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 12: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 12 2010 in Chicago Illinois. The Patriots defeated the Bears 36-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers have expect to play on Sunday without QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion) if he's feeling so bad that he still can't come in to watch film or attend team meetings. Right now, I'm borderline on whether he'll return for their December 26th game against the Giants.

In 2007, when QB Brett Favre was injured during their game against the Dallas Cowboys, Rodgers came off the bench and got them back into it. QB Matt Flynn was in a similar situation last week, but instead of having to rally from a 27-10 deficit (final score 37-27) against one of the top teams in the NFC (Rodgers against Cowboys), he had to put together a couple scoring drives against a 2-10 team. These two games were the first substantial playing time in a regular season game for either player. Here are their game stats from Rodgers against the Cowboys in 2007, and Flynn against the Lions last week:

Player Comp. Att. Yards TD INTs
Rodgers 18 26 201 1 0
Flynn 15 26 177 0 1

And the stats were a lot closer than I expected. If Mike McCarthy can prepare Flynn like he did Rodgers, then Flynn could be pretty good. Unfortunately the Packers offense needs to be great against the Patriots. They have to convert on 3rd down, throw and run the ball, eat up the game clock, and come away with points after every long drive or great field position. That's a tough assignment for Rodgers, and it's probably too much to ask of a quarterback who's still looking to complete his first NFL touchdown pass, with an offensive line that's coming off a terrible game in Detroit.

More about this game after the jump, and more on the Patriots over at Pats Pulpit.

Rankings from Football Outsiders:

Teams Run Offense Pass Offense Run Defense Pass Defense
Packers 10 10 19 3
Patriots 1 1 29 25

The Patriots are that unbalanced, and their defense really isn't playing that well this season. But the offense is playing even better then those rankings indicate. Their pass offense isn't in first place by a nose, but by a wide margin over the San Diego Chargers. The gap between the Patriots pass offense and the Chargers pass offense is the same as it is between the Chargers and the Titans 16th ranked pass offense.

Since this night game should be cold, and it could be snowing, I'm going to compare it with two recent cold weather games. Both Rodgers and QB Joe Flacco were inaccurate in the cold during the Packers 27-14 victory over the Ravens in 2009, and the Packers defense made the Ravens pay for Flacco's mistakes with turnovers. However in 2007, bad special teams play and two big turnovers turned the Bears 35-7 victory into a blowout. 

If Flynn starts turning the ball over like he's QB Mark Sanchez, then it'll be another blowout for the Patriots. Maybe he'll be able to avoid mistakes, and the defense will be able to force a couple turnovers, and keep the game close. I'm not going to post a score, but I'll say I'm feeling pessimistic. 

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