New England Patriots, Super Bowl Favorites?
Despite losing to the Green Bay Packers 2 weeks ago, the New England Patriots should still be considered one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl this season. Visiting Lambeau Field for the first time in eight years, the Patriots never led in the contest, but Packers fan can certainly attest to the fact that the game was never comfortably out of hands until the final moments.
Green Bay marched down the field on their opening possession, but the New England defense were able to hold them to just a field goal. That was a common theme for the Packers offense and the Patriots defense as Green Bay visited the red zone four time Sunday afternoon those four trips resulted in just 12 points: four field goals from Mason Crosby.
But the Pack ended the first quarter with a touchdown as quarterback Aaron Rodgers found tight end Richard Rodgers from 32 yards out on a perfectly placed pass over safety Patrick Chung. The Patriots responded with a quick five play, 73 yard touchdown drive that was finished on a six yard run by Brandon Bolden. After a Green bay field goal, Tom Brady connected with Brandon LaFell from two yards out to cut the Green Bay lead to 16-14 with 1:09 remaining in the first half.
However, Rodgers was not done and he found Jordy Nelson free himself from Darrelle Revis on a quick slant that Nelson took to the house from 45 yards out.
Green Bay held their 23-14 lead throughout the third quarter but Brady found LaFell again to cut it to 23-21. Another Crosby field goal gave Green Bay a precarious 26-21 lead with a little more than eight minutes left, but after a missed Stephen Gostkowski kick late in the fourth, Rodgers and company were able to finish off the rest of the clock and hold on for the win.
Pegged as a potential Super Bowl preview, the Patriots held their own on the road in Green Bay and certainly demonstrated they are talented enough to compete with the best teams in the league. Now with four games remaining, the Patriots can take care of business of their remaining opponents and clinch the AFC East Division and home field advantage in the conference.
New England will visit San Diego this week for Sunday Night Football.
New England will face all three of their divisional opponents to round out the remainder of the season. On December 14th they will host the Miami Dolphins in the most expensive game remaining this year at Gillette Stadium. Patriots vs. Dolphins tickets have an average price of $298 and a get-in of $126. They will then go to MetLife Stadium and face the lowly Jets before hosting the 7-5 Bills in the final week of the season. The season finale has an average price on the secondary market of $271 for Bills vs. Patriots tickets and a get-in of $122.
If New England can win out, they will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs which would be a big benefit for potential matchups with Denver and Indianapolis. But both teams are back in the race for the number one seed thanks to New England’s loss. Over the next four weeks we will have a much clearer sense of exactly which path will lead to the Super Bowl.