Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

Adam Caplan, who knows the Eagles inside and out, drops by as we discus Sunday's pivotal matchups. Leading off: Will Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott have Aaron Rodgers' number again?

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: GREEN BAY ON OFFENSE

QB Aaron Rodgers vs. DC Sean McDermott

They just have to protect Rodgers. Rodgers is great anticipating the blitz. There are few quarterbacks better than he is against the blitz. What the Bears did to them last week is they took away their short-area passing lanes, which Rodgers loves, and the Bears made it really difficult. Cover-2 corners press and the Eagles aren't a big press-man team. It'll be interesting to see how the Eagles challenge the Packers' receivers.

RT Bryan Bulaga vs. DE Juqua Parker

Parker isn't the Eagles' best pass rusher. That's Trent Cole, who will line up over left tackle Chad Clifton. But while Clifton has been superb down the stretch, Bulaga has struggled. The 250-pound Parker is a 10th-year pro who knows the tricks of the trade. He had six sacks this season — including two in Week 1 against Mark Tauscher. There's no doubt that McDermott will challenge Bulaga physically and mentally in hopes of getting at Rodgers.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: GREEN BAY ON DEFENSE

CB Charles Woodson vs. QB Michael Vick

The Eagles have got to neutralize Woodson. In the first matchup, the Packers played almost all nickel and Kolb struggled and it's not like they prepared for Vick. The issue for the Packers is when are they going to blitz and how many are they going to bring? For the Eagles, can they anticipate Woodson, because he plays linebacker, he plays slot corner, plays safety — they move him around. The Eagles struggled badly with Minnesota's Antoine Winfield, who blitzed six or seven times off the edge and he killed the Eagles. They've got to be very careful with Woodson.


Masthay can't give Jackson space.
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Tim Masthay vs. PR DeSean Jackson

Jackson possesses lethal speed, as the Giants will attest after his game-winning punt return as time expired in Week 15. In Week 1, Masthay had a superb NFL debut. His four punts averaged a mediocre 41.5 yards but but he forced two fair catches and Jackson's two returns each went for 7 yards. Masthay delivered in the clutch last week against Chicago's Devin Hester. He'll need a similar performance on Sunday.

THE PACKERS WILL WIN BECAUSE ...

... the Eagles' defensive backs won't be able to keep up with the Packers' receivers. Pro Bowler and interception machine Asante Samuel is not a slot corner, so look for the Packers to put Greg Jennings in the slot on a regular basis to let him attack Joselio Hanson, a solid, 5-foot-9 veteran who picked off Rodgers in the first quarter in Week 1 for his only interception of the season. The other corner is Dimitri Patterson, who was destroyed down the stretch after playing relatively well in place of injured Ellis Hobbs.

THE PACKERS WILL LOSE BECAUSE ...

... the Eagles have too many game-breakers who will make the difference in a close game. It starts with Vick and Jackson and carries over to the defense with Samuel, who missed five games yet still led the NFC in interceptions. The wild cards are running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Brent Celek doing the dirty work. The Packers always struggled with Brian Westbrook and McCoy has that same skill-set.

THE EAGLES WILL WIN BECAUSE ...

... losing to the Vikings in Week 16 will wind up being a blessing. Last week, coach Andy Reid played only four of his 22 starters. Rather than taking hits from Dallas' defense, Vick was resting and watching film of, among other teams, the Packers. The Eagles will be as prepared as possible.

THE EAGLES WILL LOSE BECAUSE ...

... of Clay Matthews. I don't think the Eagles can deal with his speed — not that anyone can. What I felt is if the Eagles make Matthews a nonfactor, they've got a real chance to win. He's the Lawrence Taylor of his day. He's very disruptive. I really think he's the NFL MVP, not just the defensive MVP. I think he's the best player in the league.

FINAL PREDICTIONS

Bill Huber: Playoff games almost always come down to turnovers, and this will be no exception. If the Packers avoid the two blunders that put them in a 14-0 hole in the blink of an eye at Arizona last year, they'll be booking hotel space for Atlanta next weekend. Packers 30, Eagles 20.

Adam Caplan: I just think the Packers are the better team right now. They're both teams that are missing a lot of guys from both sides of the ball but I think the Packers have a little bit better depth. Packers 24, Eagles 20.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


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.


Packer Report Top Stories