Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

We tell you the five matchups that will decide the outcome of Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. Leading off: Will Jordy Nelson attract more attention, or are the Chiefs' talented corners up to the task?

Packers WR Jordy Nelson vs. Chiefs CBs Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Javier Arenas

In his first three seasons, Nelson scored two touchdowns each year. This year, he's got 10, and he not only leads the team in touchdowns and receiving yards (957), but he's No. 1 in the league among receivers with at least 40 receptions with 18.8 yards per catch.

Nelson's been a complementary player throughout the season, and both Nelson and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said defenses haven't been game-planning to take away Nelson. It will be interesting to see if that changes as Nelson becomes more of a focal point in the offense.

"Although he's been extremely productive and I'm real pleased with what he's done for us this season, I don't know that there's been (any extra attention)," Philbin said. "We have the luxury of having some good players, so you have to choose. Some of that designer defense is a little bit overrated and is sometimes a figment of people's imagination. I'm not saying they're not going to do it and I'm not saying they don't double-team receivers in this league, but it doesn't happen a ton. Whether the Chiefs or future opponents decide to do something unique to Jordy, hopefully we can adjust the game and maybe try to free him up some other way or go to the guys who are single covered. Typically, if you're going to commit two on one, there's going to be some vulnerable spots elsewhere and sometimes it behooves you to go to those areas."

Flowers and Carr form a top-shelf tandem. Flowers is allowing 55.7 percent completions, and over the last three games has allowed no touchdowns with three interceptions, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Carr is allowing only 53.8 percent. Arenas, who Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt has said was the most-skilled cornerback in the 2010 draft, is a shade less than 5-foot-9 and will be challenged physically by the Packers' towering receiving corps. He's also allowed only 53.8 percent completions.

Packers LT Marshall Newhouse vs. Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali

Newhouse will make his ninth consecutive start in place of an injured Chad Clifton, but the second-year player's inconsistent performances created an unusual situation last week. Derek Sherrod, the team's starter-in-waiting top draft pick of this year, replaced Newhouse for a few plays in the first half against Oakland, then went back in again at left tackle for the entire second half of the blowout victory. The late-season uncertainty at blind-side protector is unsettling with pass-rushing phenom Hali next up.

The relentless Hali leads the Chiefs with nine sacks, including three in the last four games.

"They move him around. He can be either side, he can play inside in sub situations," Philbin said. "He's one of those amphibious guys, we like to call them. He's a good player. The thing that he has, that the real quality rushers have, is he's got the speed and the get-off but he's got power. He's a guy that likes to rush the quarterback. He's not a guy that's going to stop if you stop his initial charge with a good punch. He's got some competitiveness. He plays to the whistle. He's not going to take a play off. That's the thing that's as impressive as anything is the guy's got a legit motor."

Packers CBs Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson vs. Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe

Kansas City's best hope of trying to pull off the shocker of the season might be to liberally go after a pass defense that isn't out of the woods for allowing big plays, even after coming up with season-highs for interceptions (four) and takeaways (five) against the Raiders.

Bowe (65 catches, 937 yards) is the elite playmaker to get the job done, and he'll have a competent quarterback for the first time in a month with Kyle Orton, which leads to more big-play potential for a player without a reception of longer than 31 yards since Week 5.

With Bowe primarily split out to the right side, the Packers figure to counter in one-on-one situations with Williams in their common nickel packages or roll Woodson out that way in base looks when he's not in the slot. Williams is having a solid season, having allowed 57.0 percent completions with two touchdowns and four interceptions, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Williams is coming off a subpar performance in coverage but would be the better matchup against the rugged Bowe, although Woodson (league-high-tying seven interceptions) isn't bashful at age 35 to get physical.

Packers TE Jermichael Finley vs. Chiefs ILB Derrick Johnson, CB Travis Daniels, S Reshard Langford

Even without Greg Jennings, Aaron Rodgers has so many weapons at his reach. But the huge edge Rodgers gets in the passing game is having Finley. He's 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, and has recovered enough from his knee injury of last season to be troublesome with his speed. Defensively, the Chiefs will use a number of people on Finley, including Johnson short and Daniels and Langford long. Of those three, Daniels is the better coverage guy. Johnson is arguably the Chiefs' best all-around defender.

This could be Finley's coming-out party after a relatively quiet season. He was held without a catch last week for the first time all season, and the only ball thrown his way resulted in an interception.

"It's difficult when you lose a Pro Bowl receiver like Greg and a guy who's got to be mentioned among the top at his position," Rodgers said. "Last year, we had a number of guys go down and we needed the next guy to step up and play well. It helps when you have a guy like Jordy Nelson and the kind of season he's had; Donald (Driver), with his experience; James Jones, with him making the most of his opportunities; Randall Cobb, with the way that he approaches the game. And then you still have one of the top tight ends in the league, who I know is probably desperate for some more balls going his way. I'm not worried too much but it hurts to lose a guy like that on the field and in the locker room."

Packers NT B.J. Raji vs. Chiefs C Casey Wiegmann

In the middle of the fray will be the longtime starter, Wiegmann, against the youngster, Raji, who is in his third season. So much of the Packers' defense depends on Raji clogging the middle, plus he's shown an improved pass rush as he's stayed fresher since the return of Mike Neal. According to ProFootballFocus.com's count, six of Raji's 14 quarterback pressures have come in the last three games.

As he usually does, Wiegmann will give up significant size, as Raji is a good 50 pounds heavier. Wiegmann has also been playing with several finger injuries and that makes it hard for him to legally grab on to his opponent while blocking. He's having an outstanding season, with no sacks and only a combined nine quarterback hits (two) and pressures (seven) allowed while playing every one of the Chiefs' 875 offensive snaps.


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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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