GREEN BAY – Two rather significant streaks will be on the line Sunday night, and both can't continue.
The Packers have won 13 consecutive games in primetime, dating back to late in the 2019 regular season, the longest streak in the NFL this century.
The Packers also have never beaten the Bills in six tries in Buffalo at the venue formerly known as Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium and now Highmark Stadium.
So which streak is going to end?
Based on Green Bay's current three-game losing skid and status as double-digit underdogs for the first time in QB Aaron Rodgers' career, the first streak appears most in jeopardy.
But no game is won or lost without playing it. It's worth noting the last time the Packers were double-digit underdogs regardless of quarterback was for Sunday Night Football in 2017 at Pittsburgh, when Brett Hundley was filling in for the injured Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a last-second field goal in a 31-28 decision.
So take that for what it's worth.
Green Bay's last primetime loss came on Nov. 24, 2019, at San Francisco, and the streak began a month later, on Dec. 23, against Minnesota at Lambeau Field.
The Packers' last win in Buffalo? They do actually have one, against the Chicago Cardinals at Buffalo Civic Stadium on Sept. 28, 1938. A late 20-yard field goal by Tiny Engebretson provided a 24-22 triumph.
(Checking with team historian Cliff Christl as to why teams from Green Bay and Chicago would play in Buffalo, on a Wednesday night no less, 84 years ago, he surmised it was most likely an effort to make more money by drawing a larger crowd, and eventually a team, to Buffalo. Civic Stadium, which became War Memorial Stadium and the original home of the Bills in 1960, was brand new at the time with state-of-the-art lighting, and the Eagles and Steelers played there two weeks prior on a Wednesday night as well.)
In the interest of covering all bases, Sunday night's venue in Buffalo also has carried more names than those listed above, but the Packers never played there when it was New Era Field (2016-19) or Bills Stadium (2020). They've played three games there when it was Rich Stadium (1979, '88, '94) and three under the Ralph Wilson moniker (2000, '06, '14).
The statistics surrounding these two streaks are pretty much as expected.
In the Packers' 13 consecutive primetime wins, they've scored 30-plus points nine times. In the six straight losses in Buffalo, they're scored 20 points just once.
In the primetime streak, the Packers' turnover differential is plus-16, and in 10 of the 13 games, they did not commit a turnover. In the Buffalo streak, Green Bay's turnover margin is minus-12, breaking even once ('94) and losing the category all the other times, including twice by minus-4 ('79, '06).
As far as Hall of Fame quarterbacks (current and future) go, Brett Favre played in three of the Buffalo games, and Jim Kelly two – once against each other in '94. Rodgers has played in one ('14), when a potential 94-yard TD pass was dropped by Jordy Nelson. Buffalo's Josh Allen could be in the HOF conversation someday, and this is his first matchup with the Packers at home.
The Packers' primetime streak has been nearly snapped multiple times. Mason Crosby's walk-off field goal at San Francisco last year, and Rasul Douglas' end-zone interception in the waning seconds at Arizona a month later were the most dramatic.
The closest calls in Buffalo were probably the first one, in '79, when the Packers had a 12-6 lead at halftime but got shut out in the second half 13-0, and also in '06. That time, Green Bay trailed 17-10 and was on the 1-yard line looking for the tying TD with less than five minutes left when Favre's quick pass for Driver was tipped, intercepted, and returned 76 yards to set up the game-clinching score.
There's also no telling what might've happened had Nelson not had the aforementioned worst drop of his career eight years ago. The Packers trailed 16-10 late in the third quarter at the time.
Be all of that as it may, the atmosphere Sunday night should be something special. Four-time MVP Rodgers is coming to town for the first time since his second MVP year, with the home fans cheering on Allen, who's squarely in the discussion for his first MVP this season.
"They're crazy, they're loud," Packers receiver Sammy Watkins said of the Buffalo fans, and he would know, having begun his NFL career there. "It's a college atmosphere. I just told the guys, 'It's going to fun. It's going to be rocking. It's going to bring those memories back when you were in college.'
"The game's gonna be enjoyable. But we have to go out there and take it to those guys early so we can silence the crowd."
Easier said than done. But nothing is impossible, except the Packers' primetime and Buffalo streaks both continuing after this one.
"We've been pretty good in primetime the last 13 games or so, so we expect the same type of performance this week," Rodgers said. "Hopefully it's a bounce back for us. Hopefully we can go there and embrace the underdog role and come out of there with a win."