Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

We conclude our three-part Packers-Jets preview with a breakdown of the game-deciding battles. Leading off, can the Packers' wide receivers get open against standout Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie?


WRs Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones vs. CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie: All-Pro Revis apparently is fully recovered from a hamstring injury and undoubtedly will be motivated to have a big game after he was passed over for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that went to Packers cornerback Charles Woodson last season. The Jets like to match Revis against the opponent's No. 1 receiver, which might mean facing Jennings. Another option is using Cromartie's tremendous size (6-2, 210 pounds) and lock-down potential against Jennings and having Revis follow Driver in the slot in the Packers' frequent three-receiver sets. If Jennings and Driver are taken out of the equation, Jones looms as Aaron Rodgers' favorite target after Jones had four catches for 107 yards in the win over Minnesota on Sunday night.

QB Aaron Rodgers vs. coach Rex Ryan:

We have written extensively about this matchup throughout the week. Who wins the battle of the minds? Will it be Rodgers, who has sliced and diced blitzing defenses throughout the last year-and-a-half? Or, as Ryan intimated during a conference call on Wednesday, is his blitzing scheme far more difficult to diagnose than anything Rodgers has seen? Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and running backs coach Edgar Bennett, who is the point man on the blitz game plan, always have the offense well-prepared. Remember how Rodgers destroyed the Steelers' blitzing scheme last year. But Ryan had the bye week to plot for this game. Interestingly, the Jets don't exactly sack the quarterback often (13 in six games) and they don't pick off the ball (five). But opposing quarterbacks have completed a league-low 49.5 percent of their passes. If the Packers can stop those rushers, there should be gains to be made against reserve cornerbacks Drew Colemam and Dwight Lowery.


OLB Clay Matthews vs. RT Damien Woody: Ryan expects the Packers to target 12-year veteran Woody by lining up NFL sacks leader Matthews (8.5) exclusively on the left side rather than against LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Packers OLB Frank Zombo said as much on Thursday when he discussed the challenge he'll face against Ferguson. The matchup against Woody favors Matthews, especially if his nagging hamstring injury has improved so he can speed-rush against the heavy Woody, a former Pro Bowl center. Still, defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to move Matthews around to keep the offensive line honest. The flexibility of Zombo, who will fill in for injured starter Brad Jones, to play both outside linebacker spots could pit Matthews from time to time against the athletic Ferguson.

NT B.J. Raji vs. C Nick Mangold:

B.J. Raji
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Mangold is arguably the top center in the NFL and Raji is blossoming into one of the league's top nose tackles. As one of the few healthy members of the starting front seven, Raji needs a big game to prevent the Jets' power running game from running roughshod. "Mangold's a real good center," defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. "He's got tremendous balance, he really does. You see him at times where it looks to me like he's going to get beat but he's able to recover. He's an excellent center. He's probably one of the better centers that I've seen in a while."


... Rodgers and the offense are able to turn back the clock to 2009. Even without Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant, it's hard to believe the Packers can't get in sync. Rodgers has more interceptions through seven games than he did in all 16 last year. If they can simply cut out the turnovers, they've got a puncher's chance against the Jets because their play-by-play output has been just fine.


... They can't stop the run. Plain and simple, the outcome of this game hinges entirely on the Packers' beat-up front seven finding a way to compete against arguably the best offensive line in the NFL and keeping LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene under wraps. Stop them and put the ball in the hands of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is completing just 55.4 percent of his passes.


... Cornerbacks Revis and Cromartie win their matchups against Jennings and Driver. Those guys are the strength of the Jets' defense but that's not going to stop coach Mike McCarthy from putting the ball in the hands of his best player, Rodgers, and letting Rodgers get the ball to the Packers' best playmakers.


... Their blitzes can't get to Rodgers. There was an air of confidence among Jennings and Jones this week that they'd make plays against the Jets' much-hyped cornerbacks.


This looked like a potential Super Bowl preview before injuries wiped out so many of the Packers' starters and key backups. Throw in that the Jets are at home and coming off their bye, and I give the Packers almost no chance of winning this game. Jets 30, Packers 17.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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