Clifton caught a break in the last game, when the Redskins went after rookie Bryan Bulaga in his starting debut at right tackle with star linebacker Brian Orakpo off the edge. Even with Bulaga likely to be the starter again as veteran Mark Tauscher recovers from a shoulder injury, the Dolphins figure to keep Wake on the right side of their 3-4 scheme across from Clifton. The 6-3, 250-pound Wake, a former pass-rushing standout in the Canadian Football League, has come on early in the season with team highs of three sacks, seven quarterback hits and five tackles for loss. Wake is quick and relentless, a potentially tough combination for the aging and knee-troubled Clifton to counter.
Without Jermichael Finley, the Packers need their other playmakers to step up. Jennings, with three consecutive games of two receptions, broke his silence this week and, in his own polite way, discussed his frustration with his lack of opportunities to help the offense break out of its early-season funk. The 5-foot-11 Davis, the Dolphins' first-round pick last year, plays the left side and is quickly becoming one of the league's top cornerbacks. He's strong and fast. The 6-foot-1 Allen, a first-round pick in 2006, leads the Dolphins with two interceptions.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS ON DEFENSE
Pro Bowl cornerback Woodson moved from his customary slot in Green Bay's heavily used nickel package to cover Lions standout Calvin Johnson two games ago and had a hit-and-miss performance. Since the 6-foot-1 Woodson is the tallest and arguably still the most effective of the Packers' cornerbacks, conventional wisdom is he will draw the assignment on Marshall, who possesses Johnson-like size at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. Given Woodson's penchant of late for committing aggressive penalties, the Dolphins would be inclined to exploit the matchup should he be covering Marshall, who has paid early dividends as Miami's big offseason acquisition in the trade from the Broncos. Marshall had a monster effort of 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown against the Jets' highly regarded defense, although it was without top cover man Darrelle Revis.
How will the Packers get any pass rush without Clay Matthews? Defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and B.J. Raji should be able to provide some push against the mediocre interior of the Dolphins' line but the Packers must get something from their three-man rotation of outside linebackers. They failed miserably in the last 20-plus minutes last week. The Dolphins hold a huge edge here. Long is one of the best in the business and Carey is a 340-pound punisher. Look for the Packers to try to get Zombo against Carey on passing downs.
THE PACKERS WILL WIN BECAUSE ...
... For one game, they'll rise up. After failing to match lofty expectations for the last three weeks, the undermanned Packers know they'll have to rise to the occasion to keep their playoff aspirations on solid footing. The Packers' run defense will set the tone against Dolphins running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
THE PACKERS LOSE WIN BECAUSE ...
... They're simply too banged up. You could argue that Aaron Rodgers, Matthews and Jermichael Finley are their three best players. Rodgers is coming off a concussion, Matthews probably won't play and Finley definitely won't play. Without the dominating Matthews, who makes the game-changing plays on defense?
THE DOLPHINS WILL WIN BECAUSE ...
... Not only are the Packers banged up but the Dolphins are coming off of their bye. That gives them a chance to lick their wounds and sort out some of their trouble spots, such as special teams. Plus, because their offensive tackles are so good, Chad Henne should have ample time in the passing game.
THE DOLPHINS WILL LOSE BECAUSE ...
... They don't have enough firepower, even against a battered Packers defense. Raji will demolish center Joe Berger and Jenkins is too quick for either of the Dolphins' guards. Because their running game will struggle, the offense will fall on Henne's shoulders, and Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams will read Henne to make a couple of big plays.
I liked the vibe at practice this week. Rather than a downtrodden group after a tough loss and another wave of injuries, the players seemed focused and loose. The Packers' receivers are coming off a horrible week and are due to rebound. Defensively, Woodson and Williams will deliver a game-turning play. Packers 27, Dolphins 16.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.