Patrick Willis and the rest of the 49ers' defense will be facing their most difficult test of the year, especially since it's mid-December and the NFL's playoff picture is beginning to take shape. San Francisco (9-3-1) ranks No. 1 in total defense, allowing just 14.2 points per game. Their mantra in 2012 has been clock control, and they've got the running game to support it. Their 161.5 yards per game is good enough for second in the league.
The Patriots (10-3) are prolific on offense. They've put up a league-leading 36.3 points per game and have shown no mercy when it comes to opposing defenses. Their defense has a tendency to be porous at times, especially in the passing game, so it's a necessity that New England scores often.
It's the AFC East's best vs. the NFC West's top dogs, and it should be a terrific contest in the marquee game of the evening.
Game Time, Date: Sunday, Dec. 16, 5:20 p.m. PT
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Television: National, NBC
Radio: Sirius XM Radio: 93