Packers-Raiders: Game plans, key matchups

Crosby vs. Janikowski; Grant vs. Grant vs. Fargas; Kampman vs. McQuistan

With a division title to be had, heavily favored Green Bay might have to grind out a bounce-back victory after being humbled by the Cowboys last week. Brett Favre's bruised throwing elbow, coupled with the potential for some harsh weather, could mean a bigger role for emerging HB Ryan Grant. If the Packers expect to advance deep in the playoffs, they'll need an effective running game that they can turn to when throwing the football in January becomes treacherous. This is an ideal time to pound away because Oakland has a run-challenged defense.

Green Bay was a train wreck defending the pass at Dallas but gets a reprieve with the Raiders being a one-dimensional offense that goes as Justin Fargas does on the ground. The Packers can load the box with eight and take their chances with single coverage on Oakland's pedestrian group of receivers. Just the same, Green Bay can throw more pressure at Josh McCown in the pocket after going sackless against the Cowboys' Tony Romo.

Packers RB Ryan Grant vs. Raiders RB Justin Fargas

The run defenses for both teams will be on the spot to contain the two most productive backs in the league since Week 8, with Fargas rushing for 591 yards and Grant 561.

Grant should be in better position to keep piling up the yards. Oakland ranks 30th in the league in stopping the run (average of 148 yards yielded per game). Grant has three 100-yard games in the past six and nearly hit the century mark last week at Dallas, when he ripped off a 62-yard touchdown run. In that game, the Packers' 12th-rated run defense struggled with the punishing Marion Barber.

Fargas also is a load and is eyeing a third consecutive 100-yard outing.

Packers K Mason Crosby vs. Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski
Subfreezing temperatures, wind and a chance of snow showers are in the forecast for Sunday in Green Bay. Two of the league's most powerful kickers will face a stern test in creating favorable field position for their teams.

Janikowski has a league-leading 20 touchbacks. Crosby is tied for seventh with 11. The Packers rookie, though, hasn't figured out the prevalent wicked conditions at Lambeau Field as the season wears on -- he has made only four of eight field-goal tries in the last three home games.

Coach Lane Kiffin has all but broadcast his intentions to the Packers -- run the ball, stay in manageable down-and-distance situations and play eight defenders in the box to stop the Packers from running with Ryan Grant. That puts the Raiders in a tough position -- having to deal with QB Brett Favre in his own environment. It's the lesser of two evils, because Favre would be even better if the Packers are successful on the ground.

Packers LDE Aaron Kampman vs. Raiders RT Paul McQuistan

Rather than have their best pass rusher come from the right side, Green Bay, like the Raiders with Derrick Burgess, brings Kampman from the left. Kampman has a non-stop motor reminiscent of the Chiefs' Jared Allen and leads Green Bay with 11 sacks. McQuistan, after a rough start, has come on with his best games the past two weeks. He controlled Tamba Hali against Kansas City and played even better against Denver. He has had difficulty in road environments in Tennessee and Minnesota.

Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Packers WR Greg Jennings
Asomugha has just one interception this season because teams rarely throw to his side. But the Packers have excellent receivers, Donald Driver and Jennings, and QB Brett Favre has never shied away from a cornerback just because of his reputation.

One of Asomugha's weaknesses this season has been one-on-one tackling, and that could present a problem against Jennings. He leads the Packers with 10 touchdowns, and 311 of his 712 yards receiving have come after the catch.

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