Watch No. 12: Tom Brady vs Aaron Rodgers
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have at least one thing in common: “They both wear No. 12,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick joked.
A more thorough comparison will be made on Sunday when the Green Bay Packers welcome New England at Lambeau Field in a matchup of two of the NFL’s best teams, and the quarterbacks start against each other for the first time.
Rodgers’ Packers and Brady’s Patriots are riding high in their respective conferences.
New England owns the AFC’s best record at 9-2, going in riding a seven-game winning streak. NFC North-leading Green Bay has won seven of its last eight games for an 8-3 record.
Rodgers has thrown 30 touchdowns with just three interceptions this season, completing 66.7 percent of his passes. Since a 1-2 start, he has 25 touchdowns to two interceptions, matching Brady’s 2007 record of four straight games of three or more touchdowns with no interceptions.
“He’s the best quarterback I’ve seen on tape,” said New England safety Devin McCourty, who has already faced Payton Manning and Andrew Luck this season.
Rodgers’ run started after he told Packers fans on his radio show in September: “Five letters here, just for everybody out there in Packer land: R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.”
He couldn’t resist that answer when asked about the turnaround again this week.
“We’ve been pretty relaxed,” he said, smiling.
Brady’s season isn’t much different.
Following a blowout loss in Kansas City in Week 4, his ability was questioned. He was asked if time had passed him by.
Instead, during the winning streak, the 37-year-old has connected for 22 touchdowns with only four interceptions, completing 67.3 percent of his passes.
“What we went through, we went through, and hopefully we’ve moved past,” said the two-time league MVP (2007 and ’10). “There are going to be sleepless nights, and you’ve just got to stay true to what you’re doing.”
They’ve both relied on scoring a lot early in games, and enter this weekend as the NFL’s only two unbeaten teams in November.
Green Bay has averaged 44 points this month, and leads the league with 28 first-half touchdowns this season. New England, second in points during the month at 39.7, is right behind the Packers with 24 touchdowns before halftime.
In their last two home games, the Packers have put up 50-plus points.
“That’s a big reason why they’re getting ahead at home because (when) they get ahead of you, you start to press, you turn it over, they convert into more touchdowns, and it just piles on,” Brady said.
They both grew up in California. They say they know each other well, and Rodgers said he learned a lot watching Brady.
“As a young player I liked to watch his film and study him,” said Rodgers, who turns 31 on Tuesday.
On Sunday, he’ll try to outdo him.
AP Sports Writer Genaro Armas contributed to this story from Green Bay, Wisconsin.