Thanks to the dynamics of the NFL schedule, AFC and NFC teams play each other once every four years, every eight in the other guy’s stadium.
Sometimes this works out for the best. The Oakland Raiders and New York Giants rarely see each other. Thank goodness, for that.
But sometimes it robs the fan of seeing prototypical matchups like they’ll see Sunday night when the Green Bay Packers play the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
This means Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady will be in the same ballpark for the first time since 2014. Best 1 vs. Best 1A. And that’s what you call appointment television.
“He’s (Brady) got five championships,” Rodgers told ESPN this week. “I think that ends most discussions.”
A quick look at the standings shows Brady has the Patriots (6-2) on course for another Super Bowl. He has been fabulous again, on pace for 4,400 yards and 32 touchdowns and the Pats have won five straight.
Rodgers is dealing with a sprained knee and lack of offensive weapons. As a result, the Packers (3-3-1) are struggling to stay relevant in the NFC North, a division the Minnesota Vikings appear to be taking control of.
When comparing the two in a historical sense, it’s impossible not to conclude Brady has been far superior to Rodgers, who has won only one Super Bowl. But when you think about how intrinsic they’ve been to their franchises, it’s impossible to pick one over the other.
Despite their longevity, Brady and Rodgers have actually played against each other only once, on Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, when Rodgers led the Pack to a 26-21 win on a chilled Lambeau Field by throwing for 368 yards and two touchdowns.
Brett Favre was at quarterback when the Packers played Pats in 2006 and Rodgers missed the 2010 game because of a concussion.
It’s going to take a lot for the Packers to survive this one. They played the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams with aplomb last week in Hollywood before Ty Montgomery radicalized and cost the Pack one final chance to perhaps win the game.
The Packers are 0-3 on the road and since they allowed the San Francisco 49ers to rack up 30 points two weeks ago, you’ve got to feel Brady will be able to carve them up, too.
But enjoy the eclipse. You don’t see them every day, you know.
Strong Brees Threatens Rams
We love statistics like this: The Elias Sports Bureau – the Encyclopedia Britannica of the computer age – tells us when the New Orleans Saints and Rams play Sunday in ‘Nola it will be the first time in league history two teams averaging at least 33 points will play each other this late in the season.
You have your trivia question for Sunday’s house party. You are welcomed.
What a shootout this should be.
The hotshot Rams (8-0), the league’s only unbeaten team, averaging 33.0 points, bring their offensive mastermind, Sean McVay, and ignition switch, Jared Goff.
The red-hot Saints (6-1), winner of six straight, averaging 33.4 points, bring their offensive innovator, Sean Payton, and veteran gunslinger, Drew Brees.
The Rams beat the Saints 26-20 last season in LA, and the Rams weren’t even THE RAMS that day.
Their offense has gotten incrementally better. Remember, it was last in the league in 2016, but has averaged 30.9 points since the start of the 2017 season.
Another thing the Rams have going for them now is a resurgent Aaron Donald, the very rich league sack master. He has 10 of them, despite being double-teamed almost 75 percent of the time.
However, the Saints offensive line has allowed only nine sacks this season and you need to go back to 2009 to find a time Brees has been better protected.
More to the point, how will the Saints secondary deal with Goff and his treasure trove on top-flight receivers? Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
Are The Redskins For Real?
Washington (5-2) has won three straight and seems legit enough to battle the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title. They beat the Giants last week, but that was as easy as walking a chocolate cake out of a Weight Watchers meeting.
Now its defense gets to deal with Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, whose MVP numbers have been buried under the pile of leaves that is the Falcons’ defense.
Listen, the Falcons (3-4) have a Yale man, Foyesade Oluokun, starting at linebacker. They should be able to figure this out.
This already has been some season in the nation’s capital. Should the Skins win, they will be 6-2 for the first time since 2008. Of course, the Redskins lost six of their last eight that season, which didn’t help coach Jim Zorn’s relationship with owner Dan Synder.
Alex Smith has run a consistently good offense with Adrian Peterson back to form, but the Redskins have earned their keep on defense. Not only did they ruin Eli Manning’s weekend (seven sacks), they held the Giants to 37 net rushing yards – the fifth time the Skins have done that to an opponent this season.
Ryan is on his way to 5,000 passing yards and has 15 TDs, although not one as of yet to Julio Jones. His offense is averaging 401 yards and the Falcons have won their last two games.
Pat Mahomes: Not Quite Baker’s Chief Concern
So you are the Cleveland Browns and are set to host the Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) less than a week after your head coach and offensive coordinator were fired.
Worse yet, the new head coach is a defensive specialist and the new OC has never called a play in his career.
It makes you wonder how they could be just a 9-point underdog. Hmmm, what do the wiseguys know they we don’t?
There’s been a lot of talk around Lake Eric this about the possibility Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley or Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney might be the next head coach.
Why Riley? He was Baker Mayfield’s coach last season and you may have heard the kid won the Heisman Trophy and was the first overall pick in the 2018. Why Sweeney? Have you seen Clemson’s offense this season?
Does Mayfield need help? The Browns haven’t scored a TD in the first quarter this season. And you already know what Mahomes has done in KC.
By the way, Mayfield began his college career at Texas Tech. When he transferred to Oklahoma, it was Mahomes who took his place.
You have your second trivia question for the house party. You are again welcomed.
Seahawks Rolling Down The Rivers
The Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) totally enjoyed their bye week. They won four straight and are now clearly engaged in the playoff chase and defensive end Joey Bosa is still in the trainer’s room.
The Chargers have lost only to the Chiefs and Rams. The teams they’ve defeated have combined for just nine wins. And on Sunday, they will deal with the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. And that will not be a day at Venice Beach.
Only the Patriots have a better home record since 2012 than the Seahawks and Seattle (4-3) has won four of its last five. Seattle’s defense, previously known this season as “The Legion Of Gloom” – has intercepted 10 passes and recovered five fumbles. It is among the Top 5 in points allowed (18.7), passing defense (219.0).
So, the ball in his hands of Philip Rivers. Let’s see what he can do about that.