PACKERS – JETS PREVIEW

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The New York Jets are fresh off a bye week and face a Super Bowl-caliber team in the Green Bay Packers this week. The Jets were fortunate to get some of their key players to get healthy (i.e. Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace and Nick Mangold). They are going to need all that and then some fend of  a star-studded Packers team.

It will be imperative for the Jets to keep Aaron Rodgers and their aerial assault in check if they want to win this game. That will mean the Jets under-achieving pass-rush will have to step up as well as the defensive duo of Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

WHEN: Sunday 10/31 @ 1pm EST on FOX

STADIUM: New Meadowlands Stadium/ East Rutherford, NJ (capacity: 82,500)

SERIES: 11th meeting,  Jets lead series 8-2-0

LAST MEETING: Jets 38 – Packers 10, Lambeau Field, December 3, 2006

HEAD COACHES: Rex Ryan, Jets – second season, 14-8 regular season, 2-1 postseason; Mike McCarthy, Packers – fifth season, 42-29, 1-2 postseason.

LAST WEEK: Jets – BYE; Packers – 28-24 win vs. MIN

INJURY REPORT: JETS; LIMITED – Calvin Pace (foot) / FULLY PARTICIPATED – Darrelle Revis (hamstring), Nick Mangold (shoulder). PACKERS; OUT – Brad Jones (shoulder) / DNP – Donald Driver (quad), Ryan Pickett (ankle) / LIMITED – Nick Collins (knee), Cullen Jenkins (calf), Mark Tauschner (shoulder), Charles Woodson (toe) / FULLY PARTICIPATED – Chad Clifton (knee), Marshall Newhouse (back).

JETS RANKINGS: OFFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 26.5 (4th), TOTAL YARDS 334.2 (17th), PASS YARDS 175 (27th), RUSH YARDS 159 (2nd). DEFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 16.8 (4th), TOTAL YARDS 319 (12th), PASS YARDS 229 (22nd), RUSH YARDS 90 (7th).

PACKERS RANKINGS: OFFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 23.9 (13th), TOTAL YARDS 350 (11th), PASS YARDS – 250.7 (8th), RUSH YARDS 99.3 (20th). DEFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 19.4 (12th), TOTAL YARDS 338.4 (18th), PASS YARDS 214.1 (14th), RUSH YARDS 124.3 (23rd).

Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas and the rest of the Jets pass-rush hope to have a big day against a weak Packers offensive line. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets Pass-Rush vs. Packers O-Line – It’s no secret that the Packers have struggled mightily with protecting the quarterback since Aaron Rodgers took over under center. It’s also not a secret that the Jets love to rush the passer. In fact they have sent blitzers over 50% of the time this season. And while Rodgers burned opposing blitzers last-season (115.2 passer rating, 13-3 TD-INT ratio), he hasn’t had the same luck this year (87.7, 5-4). Although the Jets pass-rush has been somewhat lackluster this season, expect big games from OLB Pace and Bryan Thomas.
  • Revis/Cromartie vs. Jennings/Driver – Both sides are coming off of injuries (Revis’ hamstring and Driver’s quad), but Revis is believed to be 100% healthy. Driver had zero catches in last week’s Vikings game, and has been limited in practice all week. A Revis-Driver matchup may benefit both players in easing back to full speed. Cromartie has stepped up as the Jets number one corner – taking the 1-on-1 man coverage with some of the game’s top-flight receivers. However, when covering Jennings, expect the Jets to bracket him (jam him at the line then send safety help over the top) like most team have been doing this season against the Packers.
  • Nick Mangold vs. AJ Hawk – The two have been childhood friends since they grew up five miles a part from each other. They were rivals, then teammates, then rivals, then teammates again before getting drafted together in 2006. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings. And they both call the plays for their respective teams; Mangold takes care of the offensive line adjustments, while Hawk calls the defensive plays. It will be a great under-lying matchup to see the back-and-forth gamesmanship as who can out smart who.

X-FACTORS:

  • Dwight Lowery, CB, Jets: After Lowery’s two game-clinching takeaways in back-to-back weeks, he has already eclipsed the Mets Francisco Rodriguez as New York’s second best closer. He has fully taken over the role as nickel back from rookie Kyle Wilson (who appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth, or depth chart at least), and has made his presence known. He picked-sixed Brett Favre late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over the Vikings. And the very next week he recovered a fumble after the Broncos were threatening to win the game. Don’t be surprised if he keeps his high rate of play going this week.
  • Andrew Quarless, TE, Packers: The 5th-round pick from Penn State is big (6-4, 252 lbs.) and fast. Following the season-ending injury to starter Jermichael Finley, Quarless  figures to be the replacement. The Jets have struggled with defending big, pass-catching tight ends like Quarless. And if Rodgers is under duress a lot don’t be surprised to see him dump it off to Quarless in the flats or over the middle.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: The Jets must throw Aaron Rodgers off his rhythm and keep him in the pocket. Rodgers is as good – if not better – throwing the ball on the run and has a knack for tucking the ball down and running for the first. With a weak Packers offensive line, the Jets should be able to impose their will and wreak havoc in the backfield.
  • BALANCED OFFENSIVE ATTACK: We all know that the running game is one of the best in the league (thank you LT). What has been in question, however, is the inconsistency of the Jets passing game. Coming off of their bye week, the Jets should be able to get everyone of the same page (i.e. Santonio Holmes). Holmes is Sanchez’s perfect possession receiver, all they need to do is get their timing down together. If Sanchez can rely on Holmes and Keller to haul in their grabs, then that can open up the big play with Braylon Edwards. Maybe this is the week we see Holmes finally feel comfortable in a Jets uniform.

THE PICK: NY Jets 27, Packers 24 – I honestly don’t see this team losing very much games this year. After reviewing all of their wins thus far, the Jets have won in every way imaginable – which is a true sign of a championship-caliber team. The passing game will make a few plays early on, but will rely on the ground game to grind it out late in the second half.

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