Packers Catch Huge Break Ahead of Showdown With Patriots

LaFleur Rodgers Audibles

Getty Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has no intention of reining in Aaron Rodgers' audible decisions at the line.

The Green Bay Packers haven’t been a particularly lucky franchise over the last few months, but a win over the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field Sunday just became a whole lot easier.

Field Yates of ESPN reported on Friday that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is officially out against the Packers on October 2, after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.

In Jones’ place, New England will be forced to start backup Brian Hoyer. ESPN’s Ed Werder retweeted Yates’ report, adding a little statistical flavor of his own that bodes incredibly well for Green Bay’s chances of victory.

“Brian Hoyer has lost 11 consecutive starts, the longest such streak in the league,” Werder wrote.

Loss of Jones Looms Large For Pats in Tough Road Game Vs. Packers

New England Patriots

GettyQB Mac Jones of the New England Patriots looks down during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Though only in his second year, Jones has proven effective under center in New England, and the step down from him to Hoyer is a big one.

Jones played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie and has amassed a record of 11-9 as an NFL starter, leading the Patriots to a playoff berth in 2021. He completed 67.6 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference. The QB returned to camp this year in visibly better shape and showed himself fleet of foot late in last week’s game against the Ravens before going down with injury.

The Patriots’ offense ranks 12th in passing with 249 yards per game through three weeks, according to statistics provided by ESPN. That effectiveness through the air, however, has not translated into points. New England is averaging just 16.7 points per outing, which ranks 25th among 32 NFL teams.

Assuming historic trends hold, putting the ball in the end zone is going to be considerably more difficult for the Patriots with Hoyer at the helm than Jones, with whom they were already struggling to score.

Hoyer has completed just 59.3 percent of the passes he’s attempted throughout his career, earning his way to a 16-23 record as a starter in the NFL. The 14-year veteran has started just two games over the previous four seasons, losing both, and has attempted only 102 passes over that span. Hoyer has completed 60 of those throws for a total of 736 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Packers’ Passing Game Also Struggling, as Rodgers Guides Young Talent

Aaron Rodgers, Packers

GettyQB Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass to TE Tyler Davis against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Packers are also struggling to move the ball through the air, an issue not likely to get significantly easier against the Patriots who boast the eighth best pass defense in the league based on average yards allowed per game (200).

Green Bay has scored just 16 points per contest, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers has worked to bring along a young group of wideouts that is absent a true top target. The de facto No. 1 option is Allen Lazard, who is questionable Sunday with an ankle injury but likely to play. Sammy Watkins was also making a bid for that spot, though he will miss the next three games on IR with a hamstring injury.

Rookie receiver Christian Watson, who sat last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a hamstring issue of his own, will be back on the field against New England. Fellow rookie Romeo Doubs has been named to the starting lineup in Watkins’ absence, after he caught eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown from Rodgers last week in Tampa Bay.

However, the Packers’ inability to pass the ball effectively through three games doesn’t carry nearly the same weight as Jones’ absence from the lineup. That reality is reflected in the game’s betting line, which had Green Bay favored by 9.5 points as of Friday night.

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