Green Bay Packers (4-3) at New York Jets (5-1)
Kickoff: Noon, Sunday.
TV: Fox (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa).
Keys to the game
The Packers' ability to contain RBs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will determine their ability to stay within striking distance. Green Bay allows 4.7 yards per carry, and lost another defender in OLB Brad Jones this week. If the Jets have their way on the ground, they'll control the clock and methodically wear the Packers down. Green Bay only gives a token nod to its ground game, although RB Brandon Jackson is a solid receiver out of the backfield. QB Aaron Rodgers has a difficult task between reading the Jets' pre-snap movement and delivering accurate passes against a secondary finally healthy coming out of a bye week.
The Packers have lost 10 players to injured reserve since the start of the season. ... The Jets have a five-game winning streak.
By the numbers
The Packers rank 11th in the NFL in offense (20th rushing, eighth passing) and 18th in defense (23rd rushing, 14th passing). The Jets rank 17th in offense (second rushing, 27th passing) and 12th in defense (seventh rushing, 22nd passing). The Packers’ offense ranks second in the red zone, with touchdowns on 14 of 21 treks inside the 20 (66.7 percent). By contrast, the Jets’ defense is tied for 23rd by allowing touchdowns 60.0 percent of the time.
Bill Huber has his three keys to the game, one each for offense, defense and special teams, at Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Inside the Jets
Getting sacks isn't easy. Just ask the man who leads all active players in that department.
Jets linebacker Jason Taylor said Thursday that getting one "is the hardest thing to do in pro sports, besides make a hole in one, maybe."
Well, the Jets' defense certainly isn't near the top of the leaderboard in that category, as New York is tied for 14th in the NFL with 13 quarterback takedowns. They will try to improve those numbers Sunday against Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been sacked 14 times in seven games.
But Rodgers is the Packers' third-leading rusher, with 127 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
"He not only is able to throw the ball very accurately and on time," safety Jim Leonhard said, "and has a strong arm, but he also extends plays and moves around. He makes that offensive line look good, sometimes even when they get beat, he's able to make a play out of it."
"He keeps things alive with his feet," Jets' coach Rex Ryan said of Rodgers. "He's able to bail on you, step up and run with it, especially if he recognizes a certain coverage. ... Then, he's more likely to take off with it."
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Rodgers, who has 12 touchdown passes and nine interceptions, has a quick release. Still, one factor that produces sacks is tight coverage downfield, and the Jets believe that will improve, starting Sunday.
"A 100 percent healthy Darrelle Revis is better than anybody in this league, obviously," Taylor said. "He's a big part of what we do defensively, and to have him and Cro (Antonio Cromartie) on the corners healthy and shutting people down makes it easier for us guys up front.
"There's no better thing for a pass rusher than having good cover guys," Taylor added.
Taylor has three sacks, second on the team behind Shaun Ellis (3.5).
"So far it's not horrible," Taylor said when asked about his performance in 2010, "but it's not great by any stretch. ... You always wish you could do more. ... I look forward to doing more."
Taylor added that severely pressuring a quarterback sometimes can be "just as good as a sack. ... If you can get a quarterback chucking and ducking" under pressure, few of those throws will be complete.
A depleted Packers defense will be on the spot against the Jets' run-heavy offense.
Key injuries on the defensive line and throughout the linebacker group leaves the Packers vulnerable against New York's two-headed rushing monster of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. Green Bay has been gashed for 150 and 196 rushing yards in its last two outings and now gets the league's No. 2-rated run offense, which is averaging 159.2 yards on the ground. So, the hints Jets coach Rex Ryan dropped this week that an expanded role is in order for quarterback Mark Sanchez in the passing game probably won't amount to anything if the Packers can't stop the run.
When he does drop back, Sanchez has been hard to fluster with only two interceptions and being sacked just nine times, so the Packers may not be as reliant with their pressure packages. Versatile receiver Brad Smith has to be accounted for as a situational runner and quarterback in the Wildcat.
Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense can expect a heavy diet of exotic pass rushes from the Jets, who will be at full strength on defense after their bye week. Rodgers will have to be on with his hot reads when Ryan brings the pressure from all angles, including with safety Jim Leonhard, a Wisconsin native who has no love lost for the Packers. The Jets have been susceptible to giving up big chunks of passing yards, but cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are as disruptive as they come in the passing lanes. Turnovers could be telling, what with the Jets' boasting of a league-leading plus-10 in the takeaway-giveaway ratio and the Packers struggling at minus-1.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.