It may only be week one of the NFL preseason but the schedule makers have already given us a dream match-up to preview when the Green Bay Packers travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (7.30pm ET, Thursday).
The match-up, which hasn’t been contested in the preseason since 2005, when the Patriots all but blanked the Packers at Lambeau Field, pits two of the best teams in the NFL against each other for the first time since 2014’s Green Bay victory. This will also be the only head-to-head for the two teams this year, unless both reach Super Bowl 50, which really wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Since 2008, Green Bay and New England have been two of the best teams in the NFL in all aspects. In that frame, the Packers and Patriots have each won a Super Bowl with New England appearing in one other. The Patriots have won their division each year since ’08 and the Packers have won their division in each of the last four years as well. Only the Denver Broncos can match this feat. Additionally, they are the only two teams in the NFL to have reached the playoffs in each of those six seasons.
Since 2006, the Packers and Patriots own the two best records in the NFL against their divisional opponents. They also own two of the three best overall regular season records in that time, with New England having the highest win total with 122 and the Packers just five wins behind the Indianapolis Colts in third place.
In 2008, the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay fully began and since that time, Rodgers has ascended as one of the best QBs in the league. Standing right alongside him is Tom Brady, whose stats speak for themselves. Both men have won two MVP awards, putting them on an exclusive eight-man list of repeat winners. Additionally, all four of these awards have come within the last seven years and make the case for Rodgers and Brady, just like the Patriots and Packers, as the best in their respective conferences.
However, this is a preseason game, so if you see Brady and Rodgers at all, it won’t be for much more than a series or two. This game is more about Jimmy Garoppolo (pictured) and the first chance teams will have to see the guy who will likely be starting the first four games of the season for New England.
It’s Garappolo Time
When Jimmy Garoppolo was selected in the second round of last season’s draft, it was likely the Patriots saw him as the heir-apparent to Brady. It is unlikely however, they expected that time to come as soon as the 2015 season. With Brady suspended for the first four games of the season due to his role in the Deflategate scandal, Garappolo’s time is now and in the preseason, it is very likely the Patriots will be looking for him to showcase what he can do.
It’s a high pressure situation for a kid who attempted just 27 passes in his rookie season. He had a measly QBR of 19 in that time, although was decent with a 101.2 rating. Garappolo tossed for just 182 yards in his small sample size of playing time. He had one touchdown, no interceptions and a completion percentage above 70. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible debut for the rookie but only time will tell, and the preseason is a good time, if he really can step in for Brady.
Youth Doesn’t Have to Breed Inexperience
In the NFL, it’s always good to have a balance of young and old, veteran and rookie. Like much else they have done in the past 10 years, the Packers offer the gold standard for this kind of roster assembly and how it lends to overall team success.
The Packers are one of the league’s younger teams as 54 of the currently 89 guys on the roster, are under the age of 25. Only 10 players in that same number are 29 or older with only one being over 33. As far as experience, 38 guys are rookies or with less than one year under their belts. Another 26 have less than three years. The veterans so to speak represent 25 guys, who all have at least four years of logged NFL service time.
Overall, this is a pretty balanced roster. And as the Packers have shown, they know how to make it work. Green Bay is constantly maximizing on rookie impact be it Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews or even Rodgers himself when he played his first full season out of the shadow of Brett Favre. The team has boasted several rookie of the year hopefuls, all-NFL team performers and Pro-Bowl selections among its young talents.
In the preseason opener, we’ll get to see a handful of these guys including first overall pick CB Damarious Randall and second overall pick CB Quinten Rollins. These two have looked strong in camp and will definitely be looking to make an impact against Garappolo and the Patriots.
Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots Preview’s Betting Picks
The NFL preseason is not really a time where you’ll see coaches introduce new plays, or trot out starters for four quarters just to see them suffer season-ending injuries. It’s mostly a time where second stringers and rookies get the chance to shine and to fight for jobs that may be theirs for the taking.
There will be a lot of that going around especially with the Packers and Patriots, both teams who have pretty good depth on their rosters.
- Turning to our preview’s betting picks, the sportsbooks have the Patriots as three point favorites at home. I’d suggest taking the Patriots to best that spread given the Packers are a mere 2-7 in the first week of the preseason under coach Mike McCarthy and the Patriots are 11-5 under Bill Belichick. So bet on the New England Patriots -3pts @ best odds of -110 with BetOnline (it’s -120 with 5Dimes).
- Overall, look for this one to be low-scoring, much in the way the Hall of Fame game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings was. Take the under on the total points, again the best current odds are with BetOnline who go -110 for under 38 points.