Matchups like this are the reason we watch sports.
Two of the NFL’s hottest teams will meet Sunday when the Green Bay Packers host the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. New England is riding a seven-game winning streak while Green Bay is 5-0 on at home this season, and many see this game as a Super Bowl preview.
Sunday’s matchup also will pit two of the league’s best quarterbacks against each other. Never have Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady squared off as starters, and fans should be in for a treat. The Rodgers-Brady matchup also might go a long way toward deciding who is the NFL’s MVP, as both players are near the top of the list of candidates.
See where they fall in this week’s NFL MVP power rankings.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers (Last week: 1)
There’s plenty of talk about how Rodgers and the Packers aren’t nearly the same team on the road as they are at home. Rodgers has been otherworldly at home, and while all three of the Packers’ losses came on the road, he’s still been damn good away from Lambeau. Rodgers’ 104.0 road passer rating would be good for fifth overall and is better than the overall passer ratings for Brady, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck.
Week 12 stats: 19-of-29 passing for 209 yards, two TDs and no INTs in 24-21 road win over Vikings.
Season stats: 8-3 record, 30 TD passes, three INTs, 8.6 yards per attempt, 66.7 percent completion percentage
2. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots (Last week: 2)
We saw vintage Brady this past week against Detroit. He’s at his best when he’s throwing short and intermediate passes, and the Patriots used that game plan to roll over the Lions. Brady’s numbers are impressive, but it’s the fact that he continues to lead arguably the NFL’s best team that makes his performance among the league’s best. He and the Patriots have the Packers this weekend in a game that could end up being a signature showing for the New England signal-caller.
Week 12 stats: 38-of-53 passing for 349 yards, two TDs and one INT in 34-9 win over Lions.
Season stats: 9-2 record, 26 TD passes, six INTs, 7.2 yards per attempt, 65.0 percent completion percentage
3. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos (Last week: 5)
After the Broncos’ scoreboard operator was put in his place, Manning turned in one of his best performances of the season Sunday. Things got off to an inauspicious start for Manning and the Broncos against the Miami Dolphins, but No. 18 orchestrated quite the comeback. The Broncos erased a 21-10 deficit, and Manning was the biggest reason. Even without stud tight end Julius Thomas, Manning was able to toss four touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over once. His 135.4 passer rating was his third-best of the season. Crazy stat of the week: Manning has thrown exactly 100 more passes than Rodgers.
Week 12 stats: 28-of-35 passing for 257 yards, four TDs and no INT in 39-36 win over Dolphins.
Season stats: 8-3 record, 34 TD passes, nine INTs, 8.0 yards per attempt, 68.1 percent completion percentage
4. DeMarco Murray, Running back, Dallas Cowboys (Last week: 6)
There’s plenty of movement in this week’s rankings. We admitted last week that Murray might have been ranked a little low, and a couple of relatively quiet games from other players moves him up the list for at least one week. The most impressive thing about Murray’s season has been his consistency. Murray’s 121 yards against the Giants means he’s reached the century mark on the ground in 10 of 11 games this season. There’s no secret the key to the Cowboys’ success is to feed Murray. Dallas is 7-0 when he gets at least 24 carries and just 1-3 when he fails to reach that workload.
Week 12 stats: 24 carries for 121 yards (5.04 per carry) in 31-28 win over Giants.
Season stats: 268 carriers for 1,354 yards (5.1 per carry), seven touchdowns
5. J.J. Watt, Defensive end, Houston Texans (Last week: 3)
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Houston Texans on Sunday, and Watt had a quiet game. You can bet your behind those two things are related. Watt was neutralized all game, as he had just four tackles on the afternoon while Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to complete 24 of 35 passes in helping the Bengals gain 372 yards of total offense. Watt isn’t in danger of dropping off the list — the résumé is still off the charts — but this wasn’t one of his best showings.
Week 12 stats: Four tackles in 22-13 loss to the Bengals.
Season stats: 9.5 sacks, eight passes defended, one INT (for a TD), four fumble recoveries (one for TD), two receiving TDs
6. Rob Gronkowski, Tight end, New England Patriots (Last week: 4)
It tells you how good Gronkowski is and how high expectations are that he caught five passes for 78 yards against Detroit, and you wondered where he was all afternoon. The Lions actually did a decent job of limiting the big tight end, but the extra attention shows you just how valuable he is. In one red-zone situation Sunday, the Lions keyed in on Gronkowski and took him out of the play. The problem was, however, that they left Tim Wright wide open, and Brady quickly found him for a touchdown. It’s a simple and somewhat overlooked example of Gronkowski’s impact, especially near the goal line.
Week 12 stats: Five receptions, 78 yards in 34-9 win over Lions.
Season: 58 receptions, 812 yards, nine TDs
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