GREEN BAY – It's the game of the year. At least that's what the hype says it is.
The Packers will host the Patriots on Sunday in something that would seem to transcend the regular season. The fans are claiming this is a statement game. The media is hyping it as a preview of something greater. The irony of it all is that in terms of its importance on the NFC North title race, last Sunday's game against the Vikings carries more weight than this Sunday's matchup of AFC and NFC headliners.
How about a little true-false test?
- Sunday's game at Lambeau Field is a Super Bowl preview.
It could turn out that way, but the loser of this game will fall into danger of not having homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, and that could make its road to the big game more difficult. At this point in time, the answer here has to be false.
- The winning quarterback will win the MVP trophy.
Should he produce big stats in claiming victory, the winner of this game will take the lead for the MVP trophy. All of the Heisman-like elements are there. It's a big, high-profile, late-season game. The voters love that kind of stuff. True is the answer.
- It'll be a shootout.
Of course it'll be a shootout. Hey, this is Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. The NFL thrives on this kind of quarterback drama. With all due respect to Eddie Lacy and LeGarrette Blount, this isn't your stage, guys.
- Bill Belichick will wear his trademark hoodie.
False! It's a late-afternoon game, which means temperatures will dip as the game lengthens. Belichick will need more than a hoodie to protect him as the sun sets on Lambeau Field.
- The media will proclaim the winning team the best team in the NFL.
True! In a season of blowouts, the media is dying to find something worthy of adulation. This is it. This game is for the mythical regular-season championship.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Patriots.
1. Rush the passer – That's how you beat Brady. You have to knock him off the spot. Throwing on the run is not his game.
2. Find Darrelle Revis – He'll define the coverage.
3. Win the battle of passer ratings – The quarterback that plays the best will lead his team to victory.
4. Attack! – The Patriots will. Belichick is renowned for being aggressive in big games.
5. Play to the crowd – The Packers are likely to experience the full advantage of the south end zone expansion. The fans are ready for this one.
6. Score, score, score – You think the Packers are the blowout kings? Hey, the Patriots are No. 1 in the league in points differential. Since the start of October, they've scored in the 30s and above in all but one game.
7. Focus on Gronk – He's the Patriots' touchdown maker. Whatever it takes, do it.
8. Mix run with pass – Don't become one-dimensional.
9. Move the chains – The Packers are one of the best teams in the league at gaining first downs. The Patriots are one of the worst at denying them.
10. Ignore the hype – Once the ball has been kicked off, it's just another game.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 27