Each week throughout the season we'll ask Patriots correspondent and Boston Herald writer Ian Rapoport five questions about the Pats. This week, Ian explained why the Patriots play so well in the snow and talked about Darius Butler's return to the field.
1. Have the players remained focused and 'Patriot-like' during their current winning streak?
Rapoport: After the games they will enjoy the individual victories. They're all competitors, they'll really like shutting up a team that's talking a lot. If (the media) made a big deal about an aspect of another team and they stopped it, they'll appreciate that. But it's rare to catch them in those reflective modes. They have a quiet confidence.
2. What is it about this team and the snow?
Rapoport: They probably hate it during the week. They practice in it a lot and that has made a huge difference. It's miserable, and the guys from Florida, Georgia and Texas don't like practicing in it, but when you do, in a game, it's not that big of a deal. They're always cold — they practice in it all the time. I don't think they're getting better in the snow but they don't get worse — they don't change a thing. It's pretty impressive.
3. How has CB Darius Butler fared in his return to the field?
Rapoport: I think he's been better. He's a great athlete and it's tough to put a guy like that who can run, jump and can move quickly on the sidelines. He struggled playing the ball, but he had a pass deflection against the Bears and one against the Jets. He is definitely playing the ball in the air a little better. His coverage was fine on guys like we saw against the Jets and Bengals early on, but his reacting to the ball has improved. This season has been a tough one for him. It took sitting on the bench for him to learn and get better.
4. Assuming Aaron Rodgers is healthy, what kind of defense will we see from the Patriots, the confusing coverages or more of an attack-minded "D"?
Rapoport: It's tough to attack because sometimes you don't get there, and that's scary for (Bill) Belichick. They will disguise a lot. The biggest difference with the defense to me is that they know how to cover and they know their schemes, so they can add new wrinkles — that's a big difference. They will disguise and do what they've been doing against Jets and Bears. If (Rodgers) plays, it'll be tough, but they did trick (Peyton) Manning into two picks.
5. What's your prediction for Sunday night's game?
Rapoport: It helps (the Patriots) that the Packers might not have (Rodgers) 100 percent or not have him practice a lot, if he plays. The Patriots will come down to earth a little. It should be a close win, they are moving along too well right now to think that they'd lose. Patriots 31, Packers 24