Patriots-Packers matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Dec. 18, 2010 @ 3:27 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 15 game between the Patriots and Packers:

Patriots' passing game vs. Packers' secondary

New England's offense has been dynamic and unstoppable during its current five-game winning streak. Tom Brady is holding a 132.5 passer rating while throwing 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last five games. WRs Wes Welker and Deion Branch have excelled as well, each seeing their numbers skyrocket during the recent surge.

The Patriots have passed every test that has come their way, racking up points against top defenses, beating the likes of the Bears, Jets, Steelers, Chargers and Ravens.

This Sunday they get another stiff test from the Packers' secondary and their third-ranked passing defense. Most of the time, Green Bay comes out in a nickel defense, and it will need all the secondary help it can get against Brady, who has no problem stretching the field with Brandon Tate or going up the seam to one of his rookie tight ends.

Charles Woodson has had his share of lapses, most recently getting beat by Calvin Johnson, but he's still a great cover corner and a threat for a pick-six. Tramon Williams has been great and did a superb job covering Johnson last week. He has five interceptions this season. Sam Shields, the team's third corner, has also been reliable this season.

At safety, Nick Collins is a solid, speedy veteran, and Charlie Peprah is a physical player but not great against the pass. They will be counted on to help cover the tight ends, as well as Welker, who gets moved around the field to set up advantageous matchups.

With Matt Flynn at the helm for the Pack, it will need to bring its best defensive game, like what it brought in a 9-0 win over the Jets, to make this a game in Foxborough. The best way to do that is for the secondary to slow down Brady and the Pats' passing game and force them into three-and-outs. Brady almost threw three interceptions against the Bears, so it's certainly possible for him to toss an errant ball. If that happens, the Packers need to be ready for it.