New England Patriots

By Ty Anderson,

The first half of a Sunday Night Football meeting between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers has certainly lived up to the Michael Jordan-injected Hype Machine, with the Patriots holding a 17-10 lead entering halftime.

On the New England side of things, the Patriots have been able to essentially do whatever they’d like on offense — they’ve even turned Cordarrelle Patterson into a serviceable backup running back (five carries for 51 yards and a touchdown) — while Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has gone 10-for-16 for 121 yards through the air.

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, has finished his half 16-for-27 with 123 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Graham has been the Packers’ top threat, with three catches for a total of 40 yards, while Davante Adams is right behind him, with five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown grab. Aaron Jones, meanwhile, has totaled 48 yards on eight rushes.

Here are three thoughts from the opening half…

First drive entirely too easy for James White, Patriots

At some point, Patriots running back James White has to be in the discussion for elite backs in today’s league. I know that he’s not your traditional back, but just watch what he did on New England’s first drive. White’s constant and downright devastating impact on that drive was punishing, and he made the Packers look straight-up clueless as to how to defend him.

In what finished as a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive that took all of 3:20 off the clock, the ball ended up in White’s hands six out of 10 times, with 44 yards from scrimmage going through No. 28, too.

White’s first half finishes with six carries for 27 yards and a score, and three receptions for 26 yards.

Patriots come through with key pass break-ups

Operating from the New England 14 yard-line, Rodgers and the Packers went for a game-tying strike to Davante Adams. But it was the Patriots’ Stephon Gilmore that swung in at the last moment and broke-up the would-be completion. The Packers followed this up with a bizarre short pass to Randall Cobb for just three yards and settled for a field goal.

Then, later in the first, with the N.E. secondary in what felt like survival mode after a 19-yard gain by Jimmy Graham, Rodgers attempted to go deep on a throw to Marquez Valdes-Scantling (a real name, I swear). But that time, it was James McCourt that broke things up. From there, the Packers gained just four yards on their next two plays, and were forced to punt.

These stops epitomize the ‘bend don’t break’ philosophy, and have undoubtedly made the difference in the first quarter.

Noticeable difference in pace for each offense

When the Packers finally tied things up at 10-10 a little beyond the midway mark of the second quarter, there were two stats that seemed telling when discussing each team’s road to double-digits. For the Patriots, the march to 10 points required just 17 points and 5:04 of clock. For the Packers? 27 plays and 13:23 off the clock.

This is an absurd difference between offenses, and something that could come back to bite — well, either team, really.

On the Patriot sidelines, there has to be a comfort in knowing the Packers are going to have a difficult time keeping up with your speed when you decide to turn it on. And on the Green Bay sideline, there has to be some comfort in knowing that you can eat time off the clock and still produce a scoring drive, especially when you know it’s time spent with Brady on the sideline.

But you have to wonder if and when the Patriots’ pressure on Rodgers is going to pay off, as Green Bay’s No. 12 has been forced to scamper and scramble out of danger on almost every single play. If that happens, that’ll force the Packers to play a little bit faster, making it harder for the Patriots to sub members of their front seven in and out to stay fresh in their pursuit.

An extra thought

Actually, this isn’t really a thought. Here’s a picture of 50 Cent hanging out with Robert Kraft at tonight’s game.

Just thought your life could use this.

The Packers will get the ball to begin the second half.