Friday, October 29, 2010

Rested and Ready: JETS vs. Packers Preview

Jets football finally returns this Sunday after a long bye week. It has been torturous, but the long wait is almost over. The Jets host the Green Bay Packers on this Halloween Sunday. The last time the Jets hosted the Packers, it was week 17 of the 2002 season and the Jets needed a win, and some help, to make the playoffs. The Jets defeated Brett Favre’s Packers, 42-17 and won the AFC East. Yes, I was in attendance for that victory, and I will be again this time. Let me also note that the last time these two met, the Jets won 38-10 at Lambeau Field.

The Jets will try to take advantage of the hobbling Green Bay Packers with the help of some fully healthy players of their own. Darrelle Revis posted on his twitter page that his hamstring is 100% and that he feels great. Rex Ryan confirmed this as well. Calvin Pace (foot) and Nick Mangold (shoulder) have also been practicing fully this week and are ready to go. Clearly, Revis has not been himself through the first 6 games this season. He and everyone else are hoping that his fully rested hamstring can help him perform like the Darrelle Revis we saw last season. A healthy Revis playing on the other side of Antonio Cromartie means a lot of trouble for Green Bay receivers.

As good as the Jets’ starting cornerbacks are, Aaron Rodgers is good enough to find a way to drive his team down the field. Rodgers is 5th in the league in passing yards and has 12 passing touchdowns along with 3 rushing touchdowns. Rodgers is the biggest threat to the Jets defense this Sunday, but he has shown some vulnerability this season, throwing 9 interceptions (only 7 in 2009). The key to beating Rodgers is to force him into making bad decisions under pressure. The Green Bay offensive line has been exposed the last few seasons, and a blitz happy team like the Jets cannot wait to get a piece of it. The Jets have had trouble getting to the quarterback this season, but hope to change this and hit Rodgers more than a few times this weekend. If the Jets can get consistent pressure on Rodgers and force him to leave the pocket, it will make this game a lot easier for them to win.

Mark Sanchez hopes to improve on his 55.4% completion rate starting with Sunday’s game. This percentage is the lowest among quarterbacks who have started every game this season. Rex Ryan mentioned that he thought Sanchez’s feet were very unsettled during the game against the Broncos, causing Sanchez to look uncomfortable and causing him to throw some bad passes, including his first two interceptions of the season. Sanchez was working all of the bye week on his footwork and conditioning with Todd Norman of Cutting Edge Sports Training. Sanchez will have some more help this week with Santonio Holmes expected to be on the field more than his first two games.

Against a strong Packers pass defense, the Jets may want to stick to their 2nd ranked ground game to win this game. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene contributed 151 of the 155 rushing yards that the Jets rushed for against the Minnesota Vikings 3 weeks ago. This was the first time in 50+ games that the Vikings defense gave up more than 150 rushing yards. The Packers’ defense has struggled against the run this season, and with more and more injuries every week, the Jets get a very favorable matchup on the ground.

With the Packers injuries and the Jets strong running game having a great matchup, I would expect the Jets to pull out their sixth straight win on Sunday, but we cannot underestimate Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game. The last time the Jets won six games in a row was 1998, when the Jets finished the season with a franchise best 12-4 record and a run to the AFC Championship game. For those of you stuck with Cablevision, I wish you the best of luck finding a place to watch this game.

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