Sep 25, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers is about to face a Bill Belichick-coached team for just the third time in his 15 seasons as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback.

While the two haven’t matched up very often, they gained plenty of respect for each other from afar. They’ll meet again Sunday when the Packers host Belichick and the New England Patriots.

“Best coach in the history of the game, I think,” Rodgers said.

The Packers (2-1) and Patriots (1-2) have split the two previous matchups Rodgers started. Rodgers threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-21 home victory over the Patriots in 2014. His 259 yards passing and two touchdowns weren’t quite enough in a 31-17 loss at New England in 2018.

Rodgers also came off the bench to replace an injured Brett Favre and went just 4 of 12 for 34 yards in a 35-0 home loss to the Patriots in 2006, two years before he became the Packers’ starting quarterback.

The four-time MVP has come a long way since, throwing 453 career touchdown passes with only 95 interceptions.

“He doesn’t make very many mistakes,” Belichick said. “He never has. He’s a very resourceful quarterback. He makes the plays that are there. Then he makes a few plays that really aren’t there. Then he rarely makes a mistake where he has a bad play. There’s very, very few of those. I think that’s one of the things that makes him a great quarterback.”

Belichick’s team enters this game with less certainty at quarterback.

Usual starter Mac Jones’ status is up in the air after an ankle injury knocked him out of the Patriots’ 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. If Jones isn’t available, veteran Brian Hoyer would be making his first start since 2020.

The difference in the two quarterback situations helps explain why the Packers are favored by 9½ points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Even so, the Packers realize they can’t take anything for granted when they’re facing a guy who has won six Super Bowl titles as a head coach.

“He’s the best of the best, regardless of sport,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “It’s not a shocker as to why he’s won so many Super Bowls and why he’s won so many games. He does a great job of taking what you do best away from you and keeping you off balance.”


Jones averages 5.2 completed air yards per pass attempt to rank third in the NFL behind only New Orleans' Jameis Winston (5.7) and Miami's Tua Tagovailoa (5.4), according to Pro Football Reference.

How much the passing plan will change if Jones is unavailable is unclear. Recent history says there could be a significant drop-off if Hoyer is under center.

In 15 appearances since 2018, Hoyer has averaged only 3.6 completed air yards per pass attempt.


Each of these teams relies on two running backs to share the load relatively equally.

Green Bay has Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Jones has 32 carries for 217 yards and nine catches for 76 yards. Dillon has 40 carries for 138 yards and eight receptions for 58 yards.

New England features Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris has 36 carries for 160 yards and six catches for 31 yards. Stevenson has 29 carries for 145 yards and seven catches for 34 yards.


New England’s Matt Judon and Green Bay’s Rashan Gary have both recorded a sack in each of the first three weeks.

They’re not the only effective pass rushers on their respective teams.

New England’s Deatrich Wise has a team-high four sacks and got three of them against the Ravens. Green Bay’s Kenny Clark is coming off a two-sack performance in a 14-12 victory at Tampa Bay, and Preston Smith also has two sacks this season.


Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones has an interception, two pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. It’s helped him rate as Pro Football Focus’ top player as his position through three weeks.

He’s excelled most as an outside defender, where he’s played more than 80% of his snaps this season. Jones said he’s embracing the challenge of defending there as opposed to the slot thus far.

“You’re definitely on your own,” he said. “It’s a different perspective than being on the inside. There’s not as many bodies between you and the quarterback.”

The Packers’ top cornerback is Jaire Alexander, who missed most of the Bucs game with a groin injury.


Green Bay offensive tackle David Bakhtiari played against Tampa Bay, marking just his second game appearance since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31, 2020. Bakhtiari had played in the Packers’ 2021 regular-season finale, but hadn’t received any game action since until Sunday.

The Packers worked Bakhtiari in gradually by having him alternate series with Yosh Nijman at left tackle. The Packers haven’t indicated whether they will continue that rotation against New England.


Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE: Packers by 9 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Patriots 0-2-1, Packers 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Packers 31-17 on Nov. 4, 2018, at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

LAST WEEK: Patriots lost 37-26 at home to Baltimore Ravens; Packers won 14-12 at Tampa Bay.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Patriots minus-4; Packers minus-2

PATRIOTS PLAYER TO WATCH: CB Jonathan Jones. He has been one of New England’s most active players in the secondary this season, logging an interception, two pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. He rates as Pro Football Focus’ top player as his position through three weeks.

PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: LB De’Vondre Campbell. The 2021 All-Pro selection is coming off a performance in which he had 14 tackles and got his hand on Tom Brady's pass to foil a 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game with 14 seconds left.

KEY MATCHUP: Patriots RBs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Packers run defense: New England’s uncertain quarterback situation may force the Patriots to rely on their running game. Harris and Stevenson have rushed for a combined 305 yards through the first three weeks. The Packers allowed Chicago’s David Montgomery to run for 122 yards two weeks ago, but followed that up by limiting Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette to 35 yards on 12 carries.

KEY INJURIES: Patriots QB Mac Jones has an injury that makes his status for Sunday’s game up in the air. Brian Hoyer would get the start if Jones is unavailable. ... Patriots DL Lawrence Guy didn’t practice early this week because of a shoulder injury. .... Packers WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is on injured reserve and will miss a second straight game. Packers WR Christian Watson (hamstring) didn’t play against Tampa Bay. ... Packers CB Jaire Alexander has a groin injury that knocked him out of the Tampa Bay game early. Alexander was practicing on a limited basis early this week.

SERIES NOTES: The Patriots own a 6-5 edge in regular-season matchups, but the Packers beat New England 35-21 in the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 1997. ... The Patriots have won three of the past four meetings. ... In their most recent matchup back in 2018, the Patriots outscored the Packers 14-0 in the fourth quarter to win 31-17 at Foxborough.

STATS AND STUFF: Hoyer has 10,631 passing yards and 55 career TDs (53 passing, two rushing) in 75 games (39 starts). Hoyer has made starts for seven NFL teams during his 14-year career, but has lost his past 11 and amassed a record of just 16-23. The 2020 loss to Kansas City was his lone start with the Patriots, when he stepped in for Cam Newton who was out with COVID-19. But Hoyer was benched during the game in favor of Jarrett Stidham. ... Patriots K Nick Folk extended his streak to 57 straight field goals made under 50 yards with a 35-yard kick vs. Baltimore last week to set an NFL record. He had been tied with Ryan Succop (2014-17 with Tennessee) at 56 straight. Folk’s last miss from inside the 50-yard line was a 45-yard attempt on Sept. 13, 2020, against Miami. ... Patriots WR DeVante Parker led the team with five receptions for 156 yards in Week 3, his second career game with 150 or more receiving yards. He had five catches in his only career game at Green Bay in 2018. ... Patriots DE Deatrich Wise had career highs in sacks (three) and tackles for loss (four) last week. ... Green Bay is allowing opponents to convert just 22.6% of third down situations, giving the Packers the NFL’s top third down defense. ... The Packers haven’t allowed a single first down on 45.2% of their series. Only the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles have better stats in that category. ... OLB Rashan Gary is the first Packer since Cullen Jenkins in 2010 to have at least one sack in each of the first three games of a season. ... Packers P Pat O’Donnell is the reigning NFC special teams player of the week. O’Donnell has landed nine of his 13 punts this season inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. ... The Packers are 6-0 at home against AFC opponents during Matt LaFleur’s coaching tenure. The Packers are 17-1 in Rodgers’ past 18 home starts against AFC teams. ... Packers OLB Rashan Gary and Patriots LB Matt Judon have both had a sack in each of the first three weeks. ... The Patriots and Packers have the NFL’s top regular-season winning rates since 2008. New England is 164-64 and Green Bay is 147-79-2 in regular-season games during that stretch.

FANTASY TIPS: While it’s probably asking too much to expect Parker to repeat his breakthrough performance from the Ravens game, that type of outburst makes him worth pursuing if he’s still on your league’s waiver wire. ... Packers WR Romeo Doubs may be worth starting as the rookie fourth-round pick from Nevada is adapting quickly to the NFL game. Doubs had eight catches for 73 yards and scored his first career touchdown against Tampa Bay.