Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

We break down the matchups on both sides of the ball and tell you why the Packers will win (or lose) Sunday's game at Washington. Can either defense stop the opposing quarterback, with Green Bay's inability to stop scrambles and Washington's suspect secondary?

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS ON OFFENSE

QB Aaron Rodgers vs. FS Kareem Moore

This is Washington's first game against Rodgers, who has been terrific with 68.9 percent accuracy but a surprising five interceptions. Moore, who started just two games during his first two seasons, had an interception in his return from knee surgery at St. Louis and teamed with CB DeAngelo Hall to injure Eagles QB Michael Vick's ribs last week. Moore is the one non-first-rounder in the Redskins' secondary, and Rodgers no doubt will want to put him to the test, whether it's deep routes with the receivers or big-play tight end Jermichael Finley.

OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher/Bryan Bulaga vs. OLBs Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter

While the offensive line has given up just one sack in the last two games, Clifton hasn't been at his best because of a sore knee and Tauscher has struggled with his knee and now a sprained shoulder. Bulaga likely will get the call at right tackle, though coach Mike McCarthy hasn't ruled out Tauscher. Either way, they'll have their hands full with Jim Haslett's version of the 3-4. Orakpo beat out Clay Matthews for the rookie sack title with 11 while the 31-year-old Carter matched Orakpo's sack output last year. The Redskins flip-flop their outside linebackers, but chances are they'd want to use Carter's experience against Bulaga and Orakpo's combination of speed and power on the declining Clifton.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS ON DEFENSE

ILBs A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop vs. TE Chris Cooley


Chris Cooley
David Drapkin/Getty Images
Even at full strength, Green Bay wasn't going to have an easy time with Cooley, whose last outing against the Packers resulted in a career-high nine receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown in 2007. Now that the Packers are down two of their top linebackers, starter Nick Barnett and nickel specialist Brandon Chillar, Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb may be able to find all kinds of mismatches to exploit with Cooley down the field. The prospect of having Hawk or Bishop on Cooley, who is averaging nearly 15 yards per catch, doesn't favor the Packers.

Everyone against QB Donovan McNabb

It's going to take a team effort to keep McNabb under wraps. McNabb is averaging 10.1 yards per rush and the Packers have allowed opposing quarterbacks to run for 205 yards on 21 attempts. Even plodding Shaun Hill got in on the act last week with a 40-yard scramble in which the middle of the field was vacated and the defensive backs kept running with the receivers. McNabb isn't Michael Vick but he's fast and much more powerful. It will be up to the outside linebackers to keep contain and the inside linebackers and defensive linemen to keep the middle clogged up. Plus, the defensive backs will have to keep one eye on their man and another on McNabb when the play breaks down. He can make all throws, which will further stress the defense. It's a big, big challenge.

THE PACKERS WILL WIN BECAUSE ...

... Washington's secondary was demolished by the Texans' Matt Schaub to the tune of 497 passing yards a couple weeks ago. As long as the offensive line holds up, Rodgers should have a chance to put up big numbers, as well.

THE PACKERS WILL LOSE BECAUSE ...

... They're leaving their defense at home. Barnett, Chillar, safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Sam Shields are four of the Packers' top 13 defenders. All four of them are key figures in pass defense. McNabb will exploit their absence, either with his legs or by picking apart the linebackers with Cooley and fellow tight end Fred Davis.

THE REDSKINS WILL WIN BECAUSE ...

... Their special teams will give them a lift. Washington surprisingly released receiver Devin Thomas, who was averaging 28.0 yards on kickoff returns, but that probably speaks well to a scheme that had the unit ranking eighth in the league. On punts, 5-foot-7 rookie Brandon Banks ripped off a 53-yard return last week and first-year punter Tim Masthay has an annoying habit of having one bad punt per week.

THE REDSKINS WILL LOSE BECAUSE ...

... They simply don't have enough playmakers on offense and enough quality players on defense to stop the Packers' playmakers. Washington's offense has topped 17 points just once this year. That's not good enough against a Green Bay defense that, despite the cosmetic problems, has kept teams from scoring.

BILL'S PREDICTION

I've gone back and forth on this one. The injuries and McNabb's running ability are obviously major concerns. However, McNabb's never been the most accurate quarterback and the Packers' cornerbacks are better than the Redskins' receivers. Conversely, Rodgers is extremely accurate and he's got quality receivers at every position. And if it comes down to kickers, Mason Crosby gets the edge over Graham Gano. Packers 27, Redskins 24.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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