Behind Enemy Lines: Matchups

The experts at Scout.com discuss the matchups that will decide Sunday's Week 3 game at St. Louis.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS DEFENSE VS. RAMS OFFENSE

LOLB Aaron Kampman vs. RT Adam Goldberg: The indefinite loss of top draft pick Jason Smith to a knee sprain thrusts Goldberg back into the starting lineup for St. Louis. It rekindles a familiar matchup when Goldberg spent the early part of his seven-year career with the Minnesota Vikings and had his battles with Kampman and the Packers. Kampman no longer is at defensive end, but he more often than not is up at the line just wide of the right tackle in Green Bay's new 3-4 scheme. Kampman has yet to reprise his pass-rushing prowess in the new spot with zero sacks after the initial two games for the first time since 2004. The imposing and agile Goldberg, who stands 6-foot-7, presents a stern test.

ILBs Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk vs. Steven Jackson: If Jackson played on a winning team, he'd get as much publicity as the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. Like Peterson, he's big, he's fast and he's a big play waiting to happen. The 231-pound Jackson is a flat-out beast, and if the Packers had problems bringing down Cedric Benson, then how are they going to handle Jackson? Jackson has four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and he even caught 90 passes in 2006. Even though he's the focal point of defenses, he's averaging 5.2 yards per carry in two games. Most of his damage is done on runs to the right.


Steven Jackson gets the ball during the Dec. 16, 2007, game in St. Louis. Dilip Vishwanat/Getty

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS OFFENSE VS. RAMS DEFENSE

Packers receivers vs. S Oshiomogho Atogwe: The playmaking O.J. Atogwe has the capabilities to single-handedly keep Green Bay's sputtering passing attack in a funk. Atogwe, who has 13 interceptions in the last two-plus seasons, has good range and a keen, aggressive sense for the football. The Bengals were effective in rolling a safety toward Greg Jennings in the last game, and the Packers' top wideout didn't have a catch for the first time in his career. If Atogwe isn't coming on a blitz, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to be wary of where Atogwe is in coverage. He picked off two passes from Brett Favre when the teams last met, late in the 2007 season also in St. Louis. Having tight end Jermichael Finley to occupy the middle of the defense should help the Packers' receivers.

LT Daryn Colledge vs. RDEs Chris Long and James Hall: Everyone knows the bull's-eye on Colledge's jersey after giving up three sacks in the second half in place of left tackle Chad Clifton. Long, the son of NFL legend Howie Long and the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, and Hall, who had 11.5 sacks for Detroit in 2004 and 6.5 last season, must be salivating. The Rams have only one sack this season, and that's by Hall.

GREEN BAY WINS IF ...

It can protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have given up a league-high 10 sacks, and now they face the prospect of playing without veteran left tackle Chad Clifton in a dome stadium. If Rodgers gets time, he should have success with a receiving corps eager for redemption. In Week 1, Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck completed 25-of-36 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

GREEN BAY LOSES IF ...

Its Week 2 performance wasn't just a matter of reading too many of its press clippings. If that game against the Bengals is indicative of the talent and coaching on this team, then the Rams have a good chance of the upset.

ST. LOUIS WINS IF ...

Steven Jackson exploits the Packers' run defense just like Cedric Benson did last week. The watch words on defense last year were "gap control" and "pad level." Those were the same phrases being thrown around the locker room this week. If Jackson can find running room, then the Rams' rocket-fast but unheralded receivers will have a chance to get free and test the Packers' safeties deep.

ST. LOUIS LOSES IF ...

Green Bay plays up to its talent level. Player for player, the Packers have the better team, period.

FINAL PREDICTION

Packers 24, Rams 13: The Packers were embarrassed last week. Had the Packers beaten the Bengals, then St. Louis might have a chance this week because the Rams might have caught the Packers looking ahead to next week's showdown at Minnesota. No chance of that anymore. The Packers have some legitimate concerns through two games. They won't put all of those worries to rest, but they'll take a step forward.


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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