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Five key matchups


1. Packers defense vs. Steven Jackson—The Packers are third in the league against the run and they're coming off a strong second-half showing against Falcons big back Michael Turner, but Jackson's take-it-to-the-house potential poses the most daunting challenge the Packers will have faced to date. Jackson is a powerful inside runner that possesses game-breaking ability in the open field. He's also a devastating outlet receiver, so defending Jackson won't be a responsibility limited to the run-defense. In space, he's often too much for defensive backs to bring down, and that's where the Rams try to get Jackson the ball, in space.

2. Clay Matthews vs. Jason Smith—Smith, the second overall pick of the 2009 draft, has yet to make it to left tackle, but he'll get a dose of what it's like to play against a defense's premier pass-rusher on Sunday when he faces Matthews. Will THIS be Matthews' 2011 breakout game?

3. Al Harris vs. Donald Driver—This matchup doesn't figure as prominently in the game as it will in Packers fans' hearts. Harris is a forever-popular former Packers player who will likely line up against his old teammate, Driver, in what will, no doubt, take Packers fans back down memory lane. Key? Maybe not. Fun to watch? Absolutely.

4. Ryan Grant/James Starks vs. Rams run-defense—The Packers are a team that lives by the pass, but how do you look at the Rams' rankings and not notice that dead-last run-defense? If the Packers really do want to establish the running game, this would seem to be the week to do it.

5. Mike McCarthy vs. Steve Spagnuolo—This one has some flavor to it. The last time these two maestros met at Lambeau Field, McCarthy was the second-year head coach of the NFC's second-seeded postseason team; Spagnuolo was the up-and-coming defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. Spagnuolo scored the upset. It would be an upset of enormous proportions if he did it again this Sunday. Additional coverage - Oct. 14

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