TIME: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. EST.
The Green Bay Packers will be looking to secure a first-round bye, and possibly home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The New York Jets could be playing for a playoff berth, and possibly the AFC East title.
In other words, a lot could be on the line when the Jets host the Packers at Giants Stadium.
The Packers, who have already clinched the NFC North, will earn a bye in the first round with a win or tie. However, if Green Bay loses, it can still get the bye if Tampa Bay ties or loses against Chicago later Sunday night.
Also, if the New York Giants tie or beat Philadelphia on Saturday, the Packers could earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win or tie against the Jets.
The Jets, written off after a 2-5 start, can still win the division if they beat Green Bay and Miami loses at New England earlier in the day.
If the Dolphins win or tie, New York can still earn a playoff berth, but will need plenty of help.
The Jets can only earn a wild card berth with a win combined with a loss or tie by Cleveland and a Denver win; or a win combined with a loss or tie by Cleveland and Kansas City.
Also, the Jets can get in with a tie and a loss or tie by New England, Denver and San Diego and losses by Kansas City and Cleveland.
“The greatest thing about this team is that it has weathered a lot of adversity and a lot of storms,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said Monday. “It’s important that these guys have hung in there.
“I think we have gotten better, and that is obviously what you need as you get to the end of season. You just keep walking that line and get to where we are at right now. Guess what, boys, it is not all bad. In the end, it is the finish that counts.”
Packers coach Mike Sherman is glad the Jets are still playoff contenders.
“This sounds kind of crazy, but I’d almost rather play a team that is in the run so they’re not just in that, ‘We’ll take unnecessary risk (mode)’, a team that is going to do everything,” Sherman said.
“You know what to expect for the most part. This team is playing to win this game and it means something to them. As opposed to somebody who’s totally out of it and they run a reverse on their punt and taking high risk.”
Sherman said in the NFL one can never expect a team that’s not heading to the playoffs to just want to play out the final game and get the season over with.
“I think it almost helps us to play an opponent that is in it, we know we’re in a fight and it’s going to be a fight to the end, and I think it will help us in our preparation,” Sherman said.
Green Bay has won four straight since a two-game skid, and is coming off a 10-0 win against Buffalo on Sunday.
Vonnie Holliday set a team record by sacking Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe five times, forcing him to fumble on three of them, as the Packers became the league’s only team to win all of their home games this season.
Holliday, plagued by a torn chest muscle and a sprained knee this season, had just one sack coming into the game. He was also playing less than 24 hours after his 16-year-old cousin died of a congenital heart defect.
“I know I have another angel looking down on me,” said Holliday, who pointed toward the sky after each of his sacks. “I know today his presence was there and he gave me that extra push, that extra passion.”
“To me, we’re a team that has to be backed up against a wall to play well,” Jets receiver Laveranues Coles said. “We can’t play down to our competition; we have to play up to it.”
STANDINGS: Packers - 1st place, NFC North. Jets - T-2nd place, AFC East.
PACKERS LEADERS: Offense - Brett Favre, 3,486 passing yards and 26 TD passes; Ahman Green, 1,173 rushing yards and 7 rushing TDs; Donald Driver, 69 receptions, 1,054 receiving yards and 9 receiving TDs. Defense - Nate Wayne and Tyrone Williams, 42 tackles; Darren Sharper, 7 interceptions; Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, 12 sacks.
JETS LEADERS: Offense - Chad Pennington, 2,924 passing yards and 18 TD passes; Curtis Martin, 1,011 rushing yards and 6 rushing TDs; Coles, 83 receptions and 1,171 receiving yards; Wayne Chrebet, 7 receiving TDs. Defense - Sam Cowart, 68 tackles; Donnie Abraham, 4 interceptions; John Abraham, 10 sacks.
PACKERS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 121.3 yards per game (11th in NFL); Passing Offense - 227.9 ypg (10th); Total Offense - 349.2 ypg (12th). Rushing Defense - 124.6 ypg (22nd); Passing Defense - 185.3 ypg (2nd); Total Defense - 309.9 ypg (9th).
JETS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 99.3 ypg (23rd); Passing Offense - 214.0 ypg (19th); Total Offense - 313.3 ypg (24th). Rushing Defense - 123.9 ypg (20th); Passing Defense - 218.8 ypg (22nd); Total Defense - 342.7 ypg (24th).
LAST MEETING: Sept. 3, 2000; Jets, 20-16. At Green Bay, Martin rushed 30 times for 110 yards, caught six passes for 34 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a two-yard pass from Vinny Testaverde with 3:28 to play. Safety Victor Green made an acrobatic interception at the Jets’ 9 with 1:08 remaining to secure the win.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Packers - QB Favre needs 14 passing yards for his ninth straight 3,500-yard passing season. … The Packers are 14-0 when RB Green has at least 100 rushing yards. Jets - New York has won six of its last eight games while outscoring opponents 63-9 in the fourth quarter during that stretch. … WR Coles is 29 receiving yards away from joining Don Maynard as the only Jet with a 1,200-yard season. Coles also needs 10 catches to tie Al Toon for the Jets’ single-season record of 93.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Packers - 4-3 on the road; Jets - 4-3 at home.
INJURIES: Packers - QUESTIONABLE: T Earl Dotson (back); DE Keith McKenzie (hamstring); S Sharper (knee). PROBABLE: DT Gilbert Brown (foot); RB Antonio Carter (shoulder); QB Favre (knee/ankle); CB Tod McBride (groin). Jets - PROBABLE: CB Abraham (thigh).
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