Saturday, October 30, 2010

Packers vs. Jets Preview

The recently-victorious but serially-injured Green Bay Packers travel to the Big Apple this weekend to take on the NY Jets, who are pretty healthy and coming off a bye week. The Jets also have one of the best rushing games in the NFL to this stage of the season (#2 overall) courtesy of one of the best O-lines in the league blowing holes open for RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who the Packers and many other teams thought was over-the-hill at age 31 and passed him by when he was let go by the Chargers -- oops. Oh, and the Jets also have a pretty good young quarterback, although they rank just 27th overall in passing.

Seems as if no one is giving the Pack much of chance in Sunday's game: they are currently listed as 6-1/2-point underdogs.

Interestingly, at least if you are a stat geek, the Jets actually lead the all-time regular-season series, 8-2. What's more, the Jets have won the last three contests against the Packers. Hmmmm...

OK, the Pack is coming off an emotional and physically demanding game against the guys in the funky purple. Pundits and fans both wonder how much the Packers will have in the tank for this game, which, while important, is a non-division and non-conference game. And with roughly half the roster (as shown in a post here earlier this month) on some type of injury list (either full IR or the game-to-game variety), the Packers are seemingly undermanned and probably underwhelmed at the prospect of this game.

Seems as if some players, e.g., Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins and Mark Tauscher among them, might be held out this week so they are ready for the upcoming Sunday night showdown in Lambeau with the 'boys from Dallas. Seems a reasonable call. Granted, you don't want to ever go in thinking of a loss. But at this stage of the season and the roster as it is -- including several new linebackers and linemen added just this week -- keeping some key players healthy to go another day might be a fair trade in the long run.

And that's really what the Packers have to look at at this point: the rest of the season and how they are going to make the playoffs. They either need to win the division -- and, let's face it, it will either be the Pack or the 'Queens by a game or a tiebreaker (my apologies to my friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan)-- or somehow grab a wildcard spot. Getting that win against the 'Queens was a biggie, and that's why perhaps being 4-4 after this game, instead of 3-5, is all the difference in the world getting ready for Dallas and then, thankfully, the bye week.

So, what's the call on this game? Look for a lot of rushing attack by the Jets against the Packers' understaffed defensive line. If, somehow, the Pack can bend but not break in that area and force young QB Mark Sanchez into some bad decisions, the Packers have a chance. Or, if the Packers offense can do what it did for some of the game against the 'Queens, and stay on the field and minimize Jets' offensive plays, there is also a chance the Pack could steal a victory.

My head says Jets but my heart says (of course) Packers. I'll call it 24-21 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!