Patriots Look to Clinch Division on Sunday Night

We interrupt this tripping scandal analysis and the counter-accusations of tripping and analysis of the counter-accusations of tripping to remind you that the New England Patriots have a rather important and completely non-Jets-related nationally televised football game against the Green Bay Packers on this weekend's Sunday Night Football on NBC.

I say "rather important" because a Patriots win will automatically crown them AFC East Champions for the 2010 season, and ensure them a first-round playoff bye.

The Pack will not be pushovers, though, as they're engaged in a divisional dogfight of their own. The Packers are one game behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North.

Green Bay still doesn't know who they'll start at quarterback, with Aaron Rodgers not yet cleared to return from a concussion last weekend. Rodgers did not practice again Thursday, ESPN Boston reports.

But Green Bay's defense poses the Patriots their most fearsome challenge since -- since, I guess, two weeks ago. The Packer defense has allowed the fewest points of any in the NFL, and has held opposing quarterbacks to the lowest average passer rating in football.

That said, our friends in Las Vegas like the Patriots' odds at home in this 8:25 p.m. EST Sunday night contest.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is in no mood for Super Bowl XXXI nostalgia.

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