ORCHARD PARK NY - OCTOBER 03: LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets runs against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 3 2010 in Orchard Park New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Coming into this season, this week's game in New Meadowlands Stadium against the Jets looked like a tough matchup for the Green Bay Packers. Now it's looking like a nightmare. While the Packers just added their 10th player to injured reserve, the Jets are rested after their bye week, and Rex Ryan says star CB Darrelle Revis is "back to 100%." Although their lack of confidence in him against No. 1 receivers might leave that question open.
The Packers have signed three new linebackers this week to try and plug the holes in the dike, and claimed NT Howard Green off waivers (ironically from the Jets) to help the defensive line. Apparently he had quite the road trip after he was told to get to Green Bay. Depth in the front seven has been a major problem as they've now lost to suspension or injury three defensive lineman (DE Johnny Jolly, DE Justin Harrell, and DE Mike Neal) and three linebackers (LB Nick Barnett, LB Brad Jones, and LB Brady Poppinga). And if neither DE Ryan Pickett (ankle) or DE Cullen Jenkins (calf) are able to play, and it doesn't look good, then the only defensive lineman available on Sunday who I even expected to make the team out of training camp is NT B.J. Raji. DE C.J. Wilson has played great, but it didn't seem like there would be room on the roster for the rookie 7th round pick a couple months ago.
The good news is that QB Aaron Rodgers should have some success against their defense. According to Football Outsiders, the Jets pass defense is ranked 23rd overall so far this season. Some of that has to do with the injury to Revis, but he's not going to help improve their low sack total (only 13 sacks in their first 6 games). Rodgers remains very dangerous if he's given time to throw. Despite the loss of TE Jermichael Finley, and the quad injury that has rendered WR Donald Driver a spectator recently, Rodgers had a good game last week (295 yards and 2 TDs) against an underrated Vikings pass defense. The Jets remain a very hard team to run against, but it's been obvious all season that Mike McCarthy has little interest in calling too many running plays. The offense scored 21 points last week against the Vikings, and it's not unreasonable to expect something similar against the Jets.
The real bad news is that Jets are very good at running the ball, and the Packers are almost down to their last defensive lineman (as detailed above). They've proved to everyone that RB LaDainian Tomlinson isn't done (he just needed a better offensive line to run behind). Dom Capers is a very good defensive coach, but he can't stop the run if he doesn't have the players. QB Mark Sanchez isn't the big threat, though he might have a good game if the Packers are forced to bring a safety up in run support. Sanchez has a nifty 9:2 TD to INT ratio, but he's only completed 55% of his passes (that's QB Matt Moore territory) with a poor 6.2 yards per pass attempt.
The Packers have allowed 4.7 ypc this season which is similar to the 4.8 ypc allowed by the Bills. While the Packers have lost the players needed for their run defense, the Bills never had them in the first place, but the results should remain the same. When the Jets ran over the Bills on October 3rd, they had 49 carries for 273 yards (5.6 ypc) and their offense held onto the ball for over 40 minutes. The Packers have already been on the wrong side of two games (vs. the Lions and vs. the Dolphins) when their defense couldn't get off the field and the opponent dominated the time of possession. The Lions almost ran twice as many offensive plays as the Packers.
Of course the Packers can win, but they'll do it only if they stop making all the mistakes that have plagued them all season long. They have to win the turnover battle (with no more than 1 turnover themselves), limit their penalties, and at least have the special teams unit hold the Jets to a draw. Unfortunately, they've not been doing these things. Jets 26, Packers 21.