Packers at Jets preview: Predictions, 5 things to watch
TEAMS: Green Bay Packers (5-8-1) vs. New York Jets (4-10).
WHEN: Noon Sunday.
WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV: Fox with Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Ronde Barber (analyst), Kristina Pink (sideline).
RADIO: AM-620 in Milwaukee, FM-101.1 in Green Bay; Packers Radio Network.
SERIES: Jets lead, 8-4.
LINE: Packers by 3.
WEATHER: Mostly sunny, high of 44.
SURFACE: Artificial turf.
COACHES: Green Bay’s Joe Philbin (25-29) vs. New York's Todd Bowles (26-39).
LIVE GAME BLOG: Join Tom Silverstein for analysis and lively discussion
5 THINGS TO WATCH
LOOK-SEE: Interim coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are expected to aid general manager Brian Gutekunst in doing year-end evaluations, which means there may be some part-time players seeing extended roles. Among those who might see an increase are inside linebacker Oren Burks, cornerback Tony Brown, defensive lineman Fadol Brown, tight end Robert Tonyan and receiver J’Mon Moore. All but Brown and Tonyan are rookies whose playing time has been spotty over the course of the season. Burks (third) and Moore (fourth) are middle-round picks who were fast-tracked during training camp in hopes of them producing during the regular season. It didn’t happen, but this could be their chance to show they belong.
ROOKIE IN NAME: Jets first-round pick Sam Darnold had his struggles this season, but since coming back from a three-week absence due to a foot injury, he has been quite impressive. Darnold had thrown seven interceptions in the three games prior to the injury and since returning has completed 40 of 62 passes (64.5 percent) for 423 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He has also rushed 10 times for 45 yards. Darnold can throw on the move and his ability to roll out in either direction and throw accurately makes him difficult to defend. If he had some quality receivers, he’d be that much better. “He’s a tremendous arm talent,” Pettine said. “Can make throws across his body, has great vision of the field and he’s a really great athlete.”
TOP OF THE LINE: With 100 catches, receiver Davante Adams needs 13 in the final two games to top Sterling Sharpe’s single-season mark of 112 set in 1993. Only Sharpe (’92-93) and Robert Brooks (’95) topped the 100 mark in Packers history, so Adams has already reached lofty territory. Adams needs six more touchdowns to tie Sharpe’s club record of 18 touchdowns set in ’94 and 205 yards to break Jordy Nelson’s record of 1,519 receiving yards in 2014. “I mean I'm not counting, but that would be cool,” Adams said of setting a record or two. “We'll see. Hopefully A-Rod's counting. So we'll see.”
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: After facing Pettine’s defense for the second time, Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy heaped praise on the Packers defensive coordinator for his third-down schemes. The Bears converted just 3 of 10 third-downs in their 24-17 victory last Sunday and were forced to punt four times. The Packers rank eighth in the NFL in lowest third-down conversion percentage (36.9) and in their last three games have held opponents to 31.43 percent. Pettine has managed to do it playing a host of different guys in the secondary, including safeties Eddie Pleasant and Ibraheim Campbell, who were signed off the street and put on the field almost immediately. “It’s really a credit to the staff,” Pettine said. “Any time we had a guy come in new, we knew he was going to have to play for us soon, because those guys all spent extra time whether it was meeting with them in the morning or after practice.”
OH-FER: It’s no secret that the 2018 Packers can become the first team in franchise history to go 0-8 on the road. No team has gone winless on the road since Scooter McLean’s 1-10-1 squad went 0-6 in 1958. This season has been a big departure from previous years under former coach Mike McCarthy, who had winning seasons on the road five times and finished with a .500 record four times in 13 seasons. Winning at home is most important, but the next coach is going to have to fix whatever it was that ailed the Packers this year on the road. “We still have two more opportunities to get wins and at least achieve something in the interim, and that's getting a win,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I guess more specifically, our first road win, which is pretty astounding. But we've got a good opportunity, so hopefully we can go out there and put together our best ball.”
The Jets have been playing much better now that QB Sam Darnold is healthy, and they’ll be looking to build on two straight solid performances. If the Packers had Aaron Jones and a healthy offensive line, they’d be able to run all day, but that’s not going to be the case. Jets 27, Packers 24
With no playoffs at stake and both teams taking a look at young players, it’s anybody’s guess how this game will go. Aaron Rodgers is playing, but RB Aaron Jones (knee) and DT Kenny Clark (elbow) aren’t. The guess here is that with home field and a promising rookie QB in Sam Darnold, the Jets will be the more inspired team. Jets 27, Packers 21
A big reason the Packers are winless on the road this season is because that’s where they’ve played their toughest opponents. The Jets certainly aren’t that. With a 4-10 record and losers of seven in their last eight games, the Jets will soon join the Packers in the hunt for a new head coach. There aren’t many teams the Packers are better than this season. The Jets are one of the few. Packers 27, Jets 16
The Packers avoid the ignominy of a winless road record by simply being the more talented team on the field, and having the best quarterback on it as well. But, they’ll have to work for it. The Jets have only one fewer victory than the Packers and have been competitive at times, but the Packers should pull this one out. Packers 24, Jets 17
Aaron Rodgers is playing, but will he or most of his teammates have their hearts in it on the heels of being eliminated from playoff contention? The Packers were blown out in their final two games after being eliminated last season. Jets 24, Packers 20