EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It’s the Packers’ third game this season against a rookie first-round draft pick at quarterback, and they’re 1-1 so far, beating Buffalo’s Josh Allen but losing to Arizona’s Josh Rosen.
Now it’s New York’s Sam Darnold, the highest pick of the three at No. 3 overall. Here’s what to watch for:
1. Bell-cow back: With Aaron Jones going on injured reserve this week, the Packers’ ground game is being turned over to Jamaal Williams. The second-year pro was in this spot last year for a stretch of games and delivered, posting 135 yards from scrimmage (66 rushing, 69 receiving) at Pittsburgh, his first career 100-yard rushing game with 113 vs. Tampa Bay, and another 118 yards from scrimmage at Cleveland (49 rushing, 69 receiving). Interim head coach Joe Philbin likes to describe Williams as simply “a football player” because of his hard-nosed style, work ethic and reliability. The Packers will be counting on him for a lot these last two games.
2. Strong stretch on D: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s unit gave up more than 24 points in six of the Packers’ first eight games this season, but the opponent has crossed that threshold just once in the last six games despite a litany of injuries that has required a constant shuffling of personnel. Pettine has often said this season no one is going to feel sorry for the Packers, and it’s the height of coaching to accept the challenge presented and make the best of it. Pettine has continued to do that with his unit.
3. Magic milestones: Packers receiver Davante Adams needs 13 receptions over the last two games to break Sterling Sharpe’s single-season franchise record of 112, and he needs 205 yards to stop former teammate Jordy Nelson’s team mark of 1,519. He isn’t likely to put up those numbers this week alone, but how he does against the Jets will set up his quest for the record books in the season finale next week.
4. Youth up front: The Packers’ defensive line will once again be without Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, so it’s up to the young group of Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster, Montravius Adams and Fadol Brown to hold the point up front. That group played admirably last week in Chicago, allowing only two Bears running plays of any significance, and gave the Packers a chance to win. They need to follow it up with another solid performance.
5. Seeking one: The Packers haven’t gone winless on the road since the advent of the NFL’s 16-game schedule in 1978, and their last blanking away from home came way back in 1958 (0-6). The last road game of the season is the last chance to chalk up a win in the road column. Five of the Packers’ last six road losses have been by one score, and three of them by three points or less.