Patriots-Packers matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Dec. 16, 2010 @ 3:13 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 15 game between the Patriots and Packers:

Patriots NT Vince Wilfork vs. Packers' O-line

A big part of the Patriots' success on defense, mainly against the run, has been the play of Wilfork, the giant veteran clogging up the middle of the line. Depending on matchups and game plans, he will also line up at end and keep runners from trying to get to the edge. Wilfork opens holes for the Patriots' solid LB corps, and his ability to take up two offensive linemen puts his fellow D-linemen in good position to make plays.

For the Packers, C Scott Wells and ORG Josh Sitton have been solid this season and likely will have the task of keeping Wilfork in check if he is at the nose. The Patriots may line Wilfork up closer to the left side of the Packers' line, though, where they have a weakness. Daryn Colledge is the weak leak on Green Bay's line at left guard, and he got hurt last Sunday against the Lions. Jason Spitz replaced him and did not play well. Then T.J. Lang replaced Spitz. Either way, Wilfork will have a sizable advantage over the left guard for the Packers if he moves to that side.

Wilfork has also lined up at end this season — he started at left end in Sunday's win over the Bears. If he is there again, he will get to test rookie ORT Bryan Bulaga.

With injuries on the defensive line that have knocked out Mike Wright, the team's leader in sacks, and DT Myron Pryor, Wright's backup, Wilfork has been called upon to play more snaps and make a bigger impact. Gerard Warren and Ron Brace, the other starters on the line, have been dinged up this week, so Wilfork may be surrounded by rookies (Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick) or some new Patriots (Eric Moore and Louis Leonard) on Sunday. Regardless, he will still be counted on to attract the attention of multiple offensive linemen so his teammates can make plays.