PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the fourth of five key matchups this week in advance of the Packers' Week Five game against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome Sunday evening.
Packers OTs Chad Clifton, Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga (check status) vs. Falcons DEs John Abraham, Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann
Look for Atlanta's edge rushers to hone in on the right side of the Packers' line, where Bulaga is iffy at the tackle spot. Bulaga had yet to practice this week as of Friday because of a knee injury that sidelined him last week against Denver, which means Newhouse would start at right tackle after having a very rough time there last week contending with Denver rookie Von Miller (two sacks). Newhouse's main opposition Sunday night would come from Edwards, an expensive free-agent addition (16½ sacks the past two seasons with Minnesota) who has yet to get it going in a Falcons uniform. Through four games, Edwards has nine tackles and zero sacks and could be feeling the effects of offseason knee surgery.
On the left side of the Packers line, Abraham and Clifton tangled a couple of times last season. On the most recent occasion (the Packers' rout in the playoffs), Clifton did an excellent job holding the dangerous Abraham in check, although Abraham did manage a sack. After ranking fifth in the league with 13 sacks last season, the 33-year-old Abraham remains an elite rusher. He has a classic spin move and a wicked first step, and in nickel situations, he usually takes aim at the opposition's most vulnerable tackle, which probably will be Newhouse. It should be noted, though, that, while Newhouse did have problems with Miller, the same applies to everybody who has gone up against the Broncos' rookie beast so far. Against Denver, Newhouse did actually win a few one-on-one battles with Miller and continues to show no fear when called upon. Don't be surprised if Newhouse receives help in protection from the Packers' running backs more than a little.
The Packers' tackles better not forget about Biermann, a scrappy operator who could start pushing Edwards for more playing time. A starter in 14 games last season, Biermann makes up for his lack of speed and athletic limitations with a nonstop motor. Biermann had four tackles and a half a sack in last season's playoff loss to the Packers.