Raiders-Packers matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Dec. 08, 2011 @ 3:16 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the second of five key matchups in the Packers' Week 14 game against the Raiders Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Raiders WRs vs. Packers CBs Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields

With the Raiders' two most explosive receivers (Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford) a good bet to remain out of action this Sunday with lingering foot injuries, former first-rounder Darrius Heyward-Bey acknowledged this week the need for somebody else to step up and provide a big-play downfield presence that has been missing as of late. Heyward-Bey (38-542-2) probably qualifies as the best bet to fill that role on a team that does not really have a pure No. 1 wideout should Moore, who has missed the past two games, and Ford, who has missed the past three games, remain sidelined this Sunday. Heyward-Bey has good tools but very much remains a work in progress. The other options for Oakland figure to be fourth-year pro Chaz Schilens, who recently has established some chemistry with Raiders QB Carson Palmer (10-147 receiving the past two games) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, a former Bengal teammate of Palmer's who looks to be on the downside at this stage of his career but still can come up with a key catch in a pinch.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's emphasis on the pass defense's ability to force turnovers has never been more pronounced, so look for Woodson and Williams to be aggressive with frequent gambles more than a little likely. Woodson was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice and was close at this writing to be cleared to play following the concussion he suffered vs. the Giants. The Packers' secondary has had persistent problems defending post routes, particularly Williams. Both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were successful on big-play post patterns last week for the Giants. Look for Palmer to throw more than a few post routes on Sunday.