FOXBOROUGH — The New England Patriots (11-2) enter the home stretch of their season hosting the Green Bay Packers (8-5) with three games to go.
The Patriots clinched a playoff spot last week against the Chicago Bears.
The Packers hobble into Gillette Stadium after getting beat by the Detroit Lions last week 7-3, losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the process to his second concussion of the season. He was officially declared out of the lineup Saturday. Matt Flynn will start in his stead.
The last time the Patriots played the Packers, New England won handily 35-0 Nov. 19, 2006. Tom Brady threw four touchdowns and posted a 128.2 quarterback rating. The two teams are tied in their regular season series at four wins apiece, playing a total of 10 times. In fact, the last time the Patriots lost at home against an NFC opponent, it was a 28-10 loss to the Packers Oct. 13, 2002. It’s also the only home game at Gillette Stadium the Patriots have lost to an NFC opponent.
Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.
Records: Patriots 11-2; Packers 8-5
TV info: Ch. 7 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)
Projected starting lineups
WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Tom Brady.
LDE Ryan Picket, NT B.J. Raji, RDE Howard Green, LB Clay Matthews, LB A.J. Hawk, MLB Desmond Bishop, LB Erik Walden, CB Charles Woodson, CB Tramon Williams, SS Charlie Peprah, FS Nick Collins.
LE Gerard Warren (questionable), NT Vince Wilfork, RE Brandon Deaderick, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Gary Guyton, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, CB Devin McCourty (questionable), CB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung.
WR Greg Jennings, WR Donald Driver, LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga, TE Andrew Quarless, RB Brandon Jackson, FB Korey Hall, QB Matt Flynn.
Patriots: Taylor Price, Fred Taylor, Thomas Clayton, Rich Ohrnberger, Mark LeVoir, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright.
Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Pat Lee, Josh Gordy, James Starks, Frank Zombo, Nick McDonald, Marshal Newhouse and Cullen Jenkins.
What will they ever do without Mr. Rodgers?
Can the Pack attack’s offense formulate without Aaron Rodgers? After his second concussion last week, Rodgers (3,289 yards, 23 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 98.5 QB rating) gives way to third-year pro Matt Flynn out of Lousiana State University. In a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions after Rodgers’ injury, Flynn completed 15 of 26 passes for 177 yards and one interception. Not bad, but definitely not good either. And make no mistake about it, the focus of attention will be on Flynn because the Packers do not run. The team is 24th in the NFL in rushing with Brandon Jackson (546 yards, 3 rushing TDs) taking over for the injured Ryan Grant in Week 1. Will Flynn have a tough time against the NFL’s 31st ranked pass defense? Let’s just hope Devin McCourty’s ribs aren’t too bruised.
The Pats are banged up
As mentioned above, cornerback Devin McCourty’s ribs were hurt in last week’s win against Chicago. He had limited participation in Thursday’s and Friday’s practices and is listed as questionable. Mike Wright is also listed as questionable with a lingering concussion, while defensive end Ron Brace (questionable) suffered a concussion last week. Tight end Aaron Hernandez appeared on the injury report Friday after missing practice due to the flu. While DE Gerard Warren had limited participation Friday after injuring his knee in last week’s win. Myron Pryor (back) is listed as questionable. Kyle Arrington (elbow), Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot), Deion Branch (knee) and Darius Butler (thigh) are all listed as probable.
For the Twitterati, get insight and updates from our writers at Gillette Stadium throughout tonight’s game: