By: Ian Logue/
December 22, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA – Grab a cheesehead and wear green and yellow this week, because Patriot Nation has two big reasons to root for the Green Bay Packers next Sunday afternoon.

After New England lost 30-17 to the New York Jets in Foxboro on Sunday night, their destiny as well as a piece of their future is now in the hands of the Packers who will travel to the Meadowlands for the final week of the season. With a Patriots win over Miami next Sunday along with a Jets loss to Green Bay, New England will win the AFC East and advance to the postseason.

If they lose, in all likelihood their season will be over.

That’s because the scenario for a Wild Card berth seems as unlikely as Leonard Myers being able to keep up with a receiver. In order to win the wild card, the Patriots have to beat the Dolphins, the Jets have to beat the Packers, the Browns have to lose to the Falcons, the Chargers have to lose to the Seahawks, and the Broncos have to lose to the Cardinals.

That doesn’t look too promising.

Had New England managed to beat the Jets Sunday night, all they would have had to do is beat the Dolphins in Foxboro next Sunday and they would have won the division. Now they’re going to need some help from the Packers who beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 10-0.

Patriots fans will also be rooting for Green Bay next weekend because of the trade implications with former Patriots wideout Terry Glenn. Glenn has 51-catches for 741-yards and needs at least four catches and 28-more yards for New England to get a fourth round draft pick as part of their compensation for sending him to the Packers via a trade earlier in the year.

Either way they’re going to need to beat a tough Miami Dolphins team who is coming off of a last second defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday following a 53-yard game-winning kick by veteran kicker Gary Anderson who sent the Dolphins home with a 20-17 loss.

Sunday’s game won’t exactly be easy for the Patriots. The Dolphins are have the 4th ranked rushing offense in the league, while the Patriots run defense is 27th in the NFL allowing an average of 129.5 yards per game. In their last meeting Ricky Williams rushed for 105-yards on 36-carries, and it’s likely he’ll have success again after New England allowed over 100-yards rushing for the second straight week. Unless linebacker Tedy Bruschi is able to return healthy, stopping the NFL’s leading rusher is going to be a tough task.

Either way they’ll need to beat the Dolphins to keep their playoff hopes alive. But when the game is over fans will need to grab a cheesehead and root for the Packers, otherwise they’ll have the choice of several other teams to cheer for while New England spends January watching the rest of the league compete for the title that they won last season.