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One Preview: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers finally square off

One reliable preview. One key factor to decide the game. It's that simple.

Air & Ground matchup of Week 13

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) -- The NFL's top two highest-scoring teams will square off at legendary Lambeau Field in a showdown that will get the requisite "Super Bowl preview?" pregame buildup.

This game marks the first time that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will face each other as starting quarterbacks (the two teams met during the 2010 season -- a 31-27 Patriots win -- but Rodgers sat out due to a concussion suffered in the previous game). This Brady-Rodgers matchup is historic. This is the first time in NFL history that two quarterbacks are starting against each other for the first time when each quarterback already had made three or more Pro Bowls and won an MVP award. Rodgers is 33-3 in his last 36 home starts and is 39-9 overall, which ranks fifth in NFL history for best winning percentage in games played at home. Since Week 5, both Brady and Rodgers have been on fire. The two are a combined 13-1 with 43 touchdown passes and six interceptions. This could be epic.

On the ground, both teams are formidable. Packers running back Eddie Lacy was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week for Week 12. Lacy rushed for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 24-21 road win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots feature a fearsome threesome of Shane Vereen, Jonas Gray and newly acquired LeGarrette Blount. In his first game back with the Patriots last week, Blount rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-9 win over the Detroit Lions. In a 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, Gray scored four touchdowns and rushed for 201 yards.

One serious home-field advantage

The Packers have been dominant at Lambeau Field this season, going 5-0 and averaging 43.8 points a game. They have won each of the last four home games by 21 or more points, and have dropped consecutive 50-burgers for the first time in franchise history (55-14 over the Chicago Bears in Week 10, 53-20 over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11). It would be amazing if the Packers' run of success continued, however, against a Patriots team steamrolling toward another first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.


Great Moments in Air & Ground History

Packers 28, Patriots 10 (Week 9 of the 1997 season) -- The Patriots hosted the Packers at Foxboro Stadium for an anticipated "Monday Night Football" showdown that was a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI. Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes (to Dorsey Levens, Mark Chmura and Robert Brooks), and Levens had 100 yards and a touchdown rushing as the Packers prevailed 28-10. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was picked off three times. Both the Packers and Patriots returned to the playoffs in 1997. While the Patriots were bounced by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoff round, the Packers advanced to Super Bowl XXXII, where the Denver Broncos pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in Super Bowl history.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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