Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

We tell you the five matchups that will decide the outcome on Sunday. How will 36-year-old Al Harris match up with the Packers' big-play receivers? Which line can hold up against the defenses' pass rushers? And can Steven Jackson change everything for the Rams?

Packers wide receivers vs. Rams CB Al Harris

The 36-year-old Harris returns to Lambeau Field for the first time since he was cut by the Packers last November after he had been sidelined for nearly a year because of a knee injury. That significant setback and the advanced age have turned Harris into a shell of the productive shutdown corner he was for the Packers for the better part of seven seasons.

Harris has been pressed into a starting role with the Rams, who have been decimated by a slew of injuries in the secondary. Aaron Rodgers surely will want to test and pick on his former longtime teammate. With the younger and speedy likes of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones flanked to the outside, Harris may be in for a long Lambeau homecoming Sunday.

Packers NT B.J. Raji vs. Rams RG Harvey Dahl

In so many words before and after Green Bay's comeback win at Atlanta on Sunday night, Raji took exception to the disrespect shown by some of the Falcons toward the reigning Super Bowl champion and their dirty tactics that allegedly cropped up during the game. Dahl was a mainstay on Atlanta's antagonistic offensive line until he signed with the Rams in free agency this year.

If he remains close with his ex-linemates with the Falcons and has gotten wind of Raji's dissing, then the rugged Dahl could have added incentive to go extra hard against Green Bay's young standout. If indeed things start to get a little chippy, Raji would do well to stay focused on playing football and raising his game. He's off to a slow start this season with just one sack and other impactful plays.

Rams DEs Chris Long, James Hall and Robert Quinn vs. Packers OTs Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga

With Chad Clifton definitely out and Bulaga likely to return, Newhouse is expected to shift over to left tackle to replace Clifton. QB Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 11 times in five games and they rank 17th in sacks per pass play. That puts the Packers on pace to collect 35 sacks — far more than offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's preseason goal of 24. The Rams hope is that they can get some pressure on Rodgers and keep the passing game out of rhythm. "It's a veteran group," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "A lot of experience on the defensive line. Long is a different player than when we competed against the Rams two years ago. So, it's a very, very disciplined group. They do a lot schematically throughout the defense, but you can definitely see the experience level, the technique. James Hall has been a productive player in my past experiences in teams that I've coached against him. So, that will be a big challenge for Marshall.

Rams OTs Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold vs. Packers OLBs Clay Matthews and Erik Walden/Frank Zombo

Smith, the 2009 No. 2 overall pick who starts at right tackle, has struggled in pass protection, with two sacks and nine pressures allowed. Saffold, a second-round pick in 2010 who starts at left tackle, has given up seven sacks — including four before the bye as Brian Orakpo dominated. In all, QB Sam Bradford has been sacked 18 times. They rank last in the league in sacks per pass play and if Bradford can't be protected and the offense has too many long-yardage situations, it will be another long afternoon for Bradford. Matthews and Walden have just one sack apiece, and a healthy Zombo might replace Walden to see if he can help.

Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Packers ILBs Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk

Jackson's first run of the season went for 47 yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia. Jackson hurt his hamstring in that game. He had just six touches in the first three games and labored for 17 ineffective carries against Washington before the bye. Jackson pronounced himself healthy during a conference call on Wednesday, and his return should be a huge benefit as defenses have loaded up against Bradford in his absence.

"(We'll be) able to play off whatever a defense wants to concentrate on and try to take away from us," Jackson said during his call. "If we have to go to the pass, we feel that we can protect Sam and hopefully have those plays turn into big plays for us. If they want to take the pass away from us, we can take advantage of a soft box and be aggressive in the running game."

In four career games against Green Bay, Jackson has rushed for 398 yards on 4.9 yards a pop. If he can get close to duplicating that success, the Rams might be able to duplicate the offensive success enjoyed by Denver two weeks ago, when Willis McGahee opened up the passing game for Kyle Orton in the first half.

"The last two times we played him, he had over 100 yards rushing," defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "I mean, this guy is big, fast, strong. he has like the best jump cut, he'll jump cut and go anywhere. It's hard to catch him. He's fast, he's strong, he's a tough running back. He'll catch the ball out of the backfield. So, he's just been a headache for us."


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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.


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