The 100th season in the Green Bay Packers’ illustrious history has already been marred with no playoffs, a faint hope that was officially extinguished at Soldier Field last Sunday.
The Packers are 0-7 on the road, and must defeat the Jets in New York Sunday to avoid joining the 1958 1-10-1 team and 1950 3-9 squad, both which finished winless away from home with 0-6 records.
According to the Packers media guide, Green Bay also went winless on the road in 1920 9-1-1 (0-1 away), 1921 3-2-1 (0-1-1), and 1922 4-3-3 (0-2-2).
With a victory over the New York Jets, 4-10 on the season, at MetLife Stadium, the Packers will tie the 2005 and 1979 Green Bay teams with woeful 1-7 road records since the NFL expanded from a 14-game regular-season schedule to 16 games in 1978.
“Well, they got one shot at it,” said former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka. “You simply aren’t a playoff-caliber team if you can’t win on the road. The Packers had their chances in Chicago to beat the Bears last week, but missed on a couple of open receivers that Aaron (Rodgers) typically hits. But you don’t get second chances or do-overs in the NFL and have to make the plays when the opportunity is there—especially on the road.
“That’s why the Packers will be heading home when the playoffs start this season. Missed opportunities. But they can make a statement by finishing strong in their last two games. Pride, character. We’ll see what the Packers are made of.”
Interim head coach Joe Philbin believes the team will play hard, and he will utilize all healthy players to beat the Jets and then the Lions at Lambeau Field in the season finale.
“It’s the type of men that you assemble in the locker room that can make it either not an issue or it becomes an issue,” Philbin said. “I think we have a great locker room with high-character, high-quality men.”
Rodgers, who injured his groin in the loss to Chicago, is expected to start and play against New York. The offense will be without running back Aaron Jones, who injured his knee against the Bears and was placed on injured reserve this week.
Tackle Bryan Bulaga practiced on a limited basis this week and may return to action Sunday, while receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Jason Spriggs are doubtful. Defensive stalwart Kenny Clark (elbow) and cornerback Will Redmond (shoulder) have been ruled out, while rookie receiver Jake Kumerow (hand) is questionable.
The banged up Jets have 18 players listed on their Friday injury report. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is nursing a foot injury, but has been a full participant in practice this week.
The gritty Darnold nearly led New York to a fourth-quarter comeback win over the Houston Texans last Saturday, but the Jets fell 29-22.
“The Jets are playing for pride too,” Ditka said. “We’ll find out who the professionals are, who has the pride and character in tough times. And who already has their cars packed.”
Receiver Davante Adams and Rodgers were named to the Pro Bowl this week, and tackle David Bakhtiari, Clark, and center Corey Linsley were named alternates. Adams has a chance to break two franchise single-season receiving records.
Adams is 12 receptions short of Sterling Sharpe’s mark of 112 catches in 1993 and 204 yards shy of Jordy Nelson’s 1,519 receiving yards record in a season set in 2014.
“I’m not counting, but that would be cool,” Adams said. “Hopefully A-Rod’s counting. We’ll see.”
Week 16 NFL Picks
Can Green Bay avoid 0-8 on the road? Playing for pride and 2019 against 4-10 New York with just two victories at home. Packers 27, Jets 20.