There are a lot of things difficult to find this weekend in New England: an orchard parking lot without grey SUVs...a brewery without a menu full of IPAs...a Bostonian complimentary of the MBTA...and someone who outright thinks the Patriots can beat the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday.
The Patriots enter the game as the biggest underdog of the Week 4 slate, as well as one of the biggest underdogs in coach Bill Belichick’s history with the team. The ankle injury sustained by Mac Jones at the end of the game last Sunday vs. the Ravens will likely keep him out this week, though recent reports say not to count him out just yet. One would have to think the Pats are looking longview with Jones, and that this is gamesmanship at the end of a week where things were taken “day by day”. Thus the presumptive starter heading into Sunday would be veteran backup Axel Brian Hoyer, who’s 0-11 in his last 11 starts. Nowhere to go but up, right?
Now, that’s not to say people don’t think the Patriots can hang with or be competitive against Aaron Rodgers and company on the cool-but-not-frozen-yet tundra of Lambeau Field, where temperatures will likely be pleasant and in the upper 50’s at kickoff Sunday at 4:25pm EST. In fact it seems, when making a pick against the spread - Pats opened up 10.5 point underdogs but the line has since moved to 9 - more people than expected believe New England, who lost at home by 11 last Sunday, might be worth the risk and pick (though it should be noted the Pats are 0-3 ATS this season). A fundamental belief that Belichick & Co. will find a way to chew up clock and grind the Pack Attack to a halt long enough to hang around must be driving that belief. In Hoyer’s last start, a Monday night tilt during the COVID season of 2020 in Kansas City, the Pats had several chances to take the lead or steal a win. But sadly Hoyer turned into a pumpkin, and then rotted on the doorstep before our eyes en route to a 26-10 loss. If he is the dependable, knowledgable, system savant we’ve heard so much about, and Patriots pride rears its head, and Bill has a gameplan for the ages up his lack of sleeves, then maybe this one will be worth the watch.
Or maybe Rodgers kicks his offense into gear, uses the Packers powerful run game to hammer the Pats, who could be without defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, into submission while the Pats offense leans too heavily on the run. A likely scenario, but they play the games for a reason! Can we find alone voice who believes the Pats can pull off the shocking outright W? Let’s see what the football people who get paid big bucks to predict had to say.
The Boston Globe staff picked New England...to cover! Well, everyone except Ben Volin, who deserves the shame bell next time he’s on “The Greg Hill Show”.
Meanwhile, everyone over at ESPN wasn’t playing around; they all picked the Packers to win.
ProFootballTalk was all “Go Pack Go!”, with Mike Florio saying Green Bay covers.
The New York Times gives the Patriots a fighting chance to cover the spread.
USA Today does a Lambeau Leap for Green Bay, with only one writer predicting a Pats cover.
The 538 football computer gives the Packers a significant advantage.
The Sporting News? Packers win, Pats cover.
The Ringer? Yup, another Pack W and Pats cover.
Sports Illustrated’s MMQB: All five writers pick Packers to win (no spread mentioned).
Well, we tried! But just couldn’t find one local or national expert who believes the Patriots will win outright Sunday. Seems everyone feels a cover and possible Moral Victory Monday are the best case scenario for Hoyer, Belichick and the Pats. Win, lose or draw we’ll be with you on The 6 Rings Postgame Show, live immediately following Pats @ Pack, till 10pm EST on WEEI to process, celebrate or likely commiserate together.