PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the second of five key matchups in the Packers' Week 13 game against the Giants at the Meadowlands Sunday.
Packers OTs Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga vs. Giants DEs Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul
Is it realistic to expect a Giants pass rush that was tied for the most sacks in the league with 31 entering their Monday-night game vs. the Saints to get shut out for a second week in a row after registering zero sacks vs. Drew Brees & Co. in a 49-24 loss to New Orleans? You can be rest assured both Newhouse and Bulaga are asking themselves that question a lot this week.
While Tuck and Umenyiora remain the starters at left end and right end, respectively for the Giants, Pierre-Paul has been the team's most productive pass rusher. The 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft is currently tied for third in the league with 10½ sacks and has been virtually unblockable both outside and inside with his linebacker-like speed, long wingspan and surprising power. Umenyiora, who has been forced to battle through his share of injuries the past few seasons, left the Monday-night game with an ankle injury and could be iffy for Sunday. Despite his burst being hindered by his battered body parts, he still has managed seven sacks this season.
Umenyiora and Tuck each had 11½ sacks last season, but Tuck was clearly the Giants' best defender. Lining up in multiple spots, he was a consistent force who led the NFL with five fumble recoveries. This year, though, Tuck hasn't been anywhere near the same player, registering only two sacks while at times appearing to lack effort.
Newhouse and Bulaga were at opposite ends of the spectrum in the Packers' last game. Newhouse had an excellent game on the left side, doing a good job keeping Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch at bay. But he needs to do a better job of reacting to stunts and maintaining proper angles. Newhouse used his arms really well against the Lions and continued to display very nifty footwork, looking very good blocking at the second level.
It was a much different story, though, for Bulaga, who got beaten for a sack by Lions DRE Cliff Avril, who registered 3½ other pressures, and got called for two major penalties.