Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets: Can Gang Green Wreak Halloween Havoc?
The New York Jets and Green Bay Packers are set to do battle on All Hallow's Eve, and Halloween and the NFL is like a match made in heaven. Die-hard fans usually need no excuse to slather on some war paint and a crazy costume to attend a game, but when Halloween falls on a Sunday, fans take it to the extreme! It will be no exception at New Meadowlands Stadium for the Packers—Jets game.
The Jets are coming off a bye week and should be well rested, while the Packers are coming off a hard fought win over division rival Minnesota. This has been a highly anticipated contest, as many deemed this a potential Super Bowl XLV preview. The 5-1 Jets have, thus far, lived up to their hyped expectations while the 4-3 Packers have fallen a bit short of their potential.
This game also boasts a marquee matchup of two post-Favre QBs. Mark Sanchez and Aaron Rodgers have both lived up to preseason expectations and look to showcase their talents on Sunday to try and get their team another step closer to the postseason.
With that being said, here is what to watch for.
Injuries Injuries Injuries
The Packers are a team riddled with injuries. Thirteen of their players are either on injured reserve or PUP. This is a direct reason for their slightly anemic 4-3 record.
Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Al Harris and Atari Bigby are all key Packers that will not be playing on Sunday. Charles Woodson and Donald Driver are also on this week's injury report. Woodson and Driver are surely going to play, but they are a bit banged up.
The Jets need to capitalize on the Packers' depleted secondary with a hurting Woodson and try to take advantage of a weak running game with no Ryan Grant.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Jets Defense
Aaron Rodgers has shown he is a more than capable succession to Brett Favre. With over 1,800 yards passing, 12 TDs and the eighth-ranked passing attack, he's proving to be one of the elite QBs in the league. Though does have nine INTs, so he can be vulnerable.
Rex Ryan has had an extra week to prepare for the Packers' air game. Ryan's third down blitzing packages haven't been as effective this year due mostly to an ailing Darrelle Revis and rookie Kyle Wilson being asked to step into a larger role than expected.
Will Ryan continue his aggressive style on third down or try to get more conservative to prevent huge plays from Rodgers? I expect Rex to continue to try and put as much pressure on Rodgers as possible to force him to throw some costly picks and/or absorb some sacks.
Who Will Cover Greg Jennings?
Who will be lined up against Packers' No. 1 receiver, Greg Jennings, Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie?
In the wake of Revis' injury, Cromartie has stepped up. He's managed to blanket every WR he's faced with minimal damage, while Revis has struggled at times due to his nagging hamstring.
I'm leaning a bit towards Cromartie matching up with Jennings. At 6'2", Cromarite has a size advantage over the 5'11" receiver. But in the end, I think the decision will depend on Revis.
Which leads to my next slide.
Is Darrelle Revis 100 Percent?
It's no secret that Revis Island isn't quite the lonely place it was last season. Revis' hamstring injury has limited his ability to cover the big-time receivers, and he has been shaky covering the receivers he's been assigned to.
Now, after an extra week of rest from the bye, Darrelle Revis claims he is back to 100 percent. And if that is the case, it could mean disaster for the Packers' receiving corps (and the rest of the Jets' competition) with a healthy Revis and Cromartie playing as well as he is.
This game will show us if Revis is indeed 100 percent, or if he still needs some more time to heal.
Third Down Efficiency: Offense
Simply put, the Jets need to be better on third down situation. They are currently 30-for-80 on third down attempts. They need to try and stay out of too many 3rd-and-long situations in order to keep Sanchez from throwing dangerous passes for potential INTs.
Third Down Efficiency: Defense
Like the offense, the Jets' defense needs to be better in 3rd-and-long situations. Too many times have they had a team on the ropes and let them convert a play for big yardage on third down. This has been largely due to the all-out blitzing strategy that Rex Ryan loves to do, which has been ineffective because of Revis' injury. Hopefully, if Revis is 100 percent, this will become a more effective gameplan.
Ground and Pound
The Jets have the NFL's second-best rushing attack. The Packers have the NFL's 23rd-ranked rushing defense.
The Jets will give the Packers heavy doses of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. This could be a possible 100-plus yard game for both backs, similar to what they did against Buffalo.
Clay Matthews vs. Jets Offensive Line
Clay Matthews is a beast, and his 8.5 sacks are currently the NFL's best. Mark Sanchez should be having nightmares about this guy right now.
Matthews was nursing a hamstring injury, but he's not on the injury report for this week, so I guess it's safe to assume he's 100 percent.
Damien Woody and the rest of the Jets' offensive line will have their hands full with this guy as he is fast, strong and knows how to get to the QB. He'll take down Sanchez at least once this Sunday.
Charles Woodson vs. Braylon Edwards/Santonio Holmes/Mark Sanchez
With injuries to Al Harris and Atari Bigby, Woodson is the man in the Packers' secondary.
It remains to be seen if he will line up across from Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes. Edwards is the Jets' leading receiver and Holmes is still working out his chemistry with Mark Sanchez.
I think Woodson will be lining up against both Edwards and Holmes depending on the formation. In any case, Sanchez should avoid Woodson like the plague and try to exploit the other side of the field.
Rex Ryan has stated that the bye week has done the Jets a world of good, and that they have no excuses for a poor performance this Sunday. He also has made it clear that even though they are 5-1, there is still room for improvement. The Jets are 22nd against the pass and 12th overall, numbers Ryan are not pleased with.
The less than soft-spoken Ryan had this to say: "Our objective is to lead the league in wins. When it's all settled, I expect have the best defense in the league, like always."
With Revis at 100 percent, that could be all the Jets need to fulfill their head coach's wishes. They will have a huge test ahead of them facing the Packers' potent passing offense. Shutting down Aaron Rodgers en route to a Jets victory will further cement this defense as the league's elite unit.
So will the Jets get a trick or a treat from the Packers this Halloween?
The Jets will enjoy a nice treat as they defeat the Packers, 27-17.
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