Matchups to Watch  

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Oher-Harrison showdown one of key divisional matchups

This week will feature two matchups from each divisional game.

 
Oher
 
Harrison

Ravens vs. Steelers: Michael Oher vs. James Harrison

Oher started all 16 games at right tackle last year and was selected to the All-Rookie team. Oher has struggled at times this year, allowing seven sacks, but he has been at his best against Harrison. He has held Harrison without a sack against the Ravens this year. The Steelers' standout had six sacks in the three years previous against Baltimore.

Oher has very long arms and is able to re-direct pass rushers, which he will have to do well against Harrison, who is a natural leverage player that excels at getting under blocks. Oher has outstanding strength and tremdnous quickness, but that quickness can hurt him at times. He has been flagged for eight false start penalties, because he gets off the line so rapidly that it often falsely appears as though he has jumped prior to the snap.

Harrison is a good blitzer, who knows how to hit the gaps, so Oher will have to make sure he doesn't lose sight of him. Harrison plays well in space and is good in coverage. If Harrison brings down Flacco on the pass rush and disrupts his timing in coverage, the Steelers' chances to win will increase.


 
Webb
 
Wallace

Lardarius Webb vs. Mike Wallace

Webb has come on and played better of late. Webb is not real tall, but has great speed. He will need it against Wallace, who can fly. Webb closes well and plays very physical for his size. He is very athletic, but his leaping ability will be put to the test by Wallace and his great vertical. Webb has a tendency to jump routes, a potential danger zone against Wallace. Wallace loves to lull defenders to sleep and go deep on the 9-route. Wallace caught 60 of 99 passes thrown his way this season, but did have six drops. He has to uncover from Webb and make several big plays for the Steelers to have success.




 
Rodgers
 
Grimes

Packers at Falcons: Aaron Rodgers vs. Brent Grimes

Rodgers has been hot in the last eight games, throwing for 19 touchdowns and two interceptions during that span. He has become the face of the Packers' franchise after replacing Brett Favre. He makes good decisions and has outstanding accuracy and arm strength. His decision-making and accuracy will have to be sharp in this matchup, however, as Grimes is tough to throw against. Opponents have completed only 59 of 124 passes on him this year. Grimes is not particular tall or fast, but he has great coverage instincts and is very good at breaking on receivers as the ball arrives.

Rodgers excels at keeping all receivers involved in the game and is a talented scrambler when nobody is open. He won't be afraid to test Grimes, and the emerging Falcon must be up to the challenge for Atlanta to have a chance. If Rodgers turns the ball over like he did in the first meeting with Atlanta (a costly goal-line fumble ended a drive in a close game), the Packers could be in trouble.



 
Williams
 
White

Tramon Williams vs. Roddy White

Williams is a real success story from a college walk-on to an undrafted free agent to a player whose interception saved the day last week in Philadelphia. He was targeted 92 times this season and allowed 40 completions (43 percent). Any percentage under 50 percent is considered good. The task of covering White, however, might be his toughest yet. White was thrown to 179 times this season -- the highest number of targets in the NFL and led the league with 115 receptions. Both Williams and White have outstanding hands and leaping ability, but White might have an edge in strength. If Williams can come up with another big turnover and prevent White from consistently moving the chains, Green Bay's odds of winning go up greatly.





 
Revis
 
Brady

Jets at Patriots: Darrelle Revis vs. Tom Brady

Brady has great leadership qualities and refuses to get into a war of words with opposing coaches or players. Jets coach Rex Ryan has surely tried to bait him by saying Revis is a better player and that Peyton Manning studies harder, but it hasn't worked. Brady maintains poise at all times and rarely makes mistakes. He broke Bernie Kosar's record of 308 passes without an interception and threw 30 touchdowns over that span (compared to eight for Kosar).

The question for Brady will be if Revis moves around in his coverage like he did last week against Reggie Wayne, who he limited to one catch for 1 yard. Brady understands where pressure is coming from and is hard to fool with coverages and schemes. Brady loves to spread the ball around and it will be interesting to see whether he attacks Revis, who rarely gets targeted. Even if he wants to go after Revis, he might ultimately decide against it, due to Revis' outstanding quickness, toughness and coverage ability. This should be a close game and Brady needs to be sure to continue his impeccable ball security against Revis and the Jets.

 
Tomlinson
 
Mayo

LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Jerod Mayo

Tomlinson started the season fast, but wore down late in the year. He rested Week 17 and looked rejuvenated in the wild-card matchup wit the Colts, however. He worked hard in the offseason to regain his quickness and burst through the loss of weight. Mayo also improved tremendously in the offseason, but due to recovering from injuries and getting healthy. He is at the top of his game and playing as well as anyone in the NFL at his position. He has great recognition and plays extremely well in space. Those skills will have to be on display against Tomlinson, who is a very good receiver coming out of the backfield.

Tomlinson is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this year against the Patriots, but Mayo did a much better job of covering him and stopping him in the second meeting. If he can replicate that performance and prevent L.T. from gaining first downs and helping New York control time of possession, New England should have a good chance to win.



 
Lynch
 
Urlacher

Seahawks vs. Bears: Marshawn Lynch vs. Brian Urlacher

Marshawn Lynch showcased his talent in last week's remarkable run against the Saints. That scamper illustrated an impressive combination of speed, quickness and desire. It was Earth-shaking to say the least. He runs hard, has quick feet and possesses very good running skills. Urlacher, though, is also very talented and is the Bears' leading tackler. He is outstanding in coverage and makes a lot of plays. Chicago has the second-ranked run defense, and if Lynch can't find a way to shake Urlacher and break off another long run, it could be tough for Seattle to win.

 
Thomas
 
Cutler

Earl Thomas vs. Jay Cutler

Thomas makes a lot of plays and has five interceptions for the season. He was targeted 61 times and allowed 30 catches -- a great ratio for the safety. He should be able to cover the Bears' slot receiver, whoever it may be, including Johnny Knox. He is not real big for a safety and can be faked out, but makes for his mistakes with his athleticism and determination. He helped Cutler to one of his worst games of the year in the first meeting, and he needs to repeat the performance he had last week against the Saints, if Seattle is to have any type of a chance.

Cutler's last outing against Seattle might have been so poor because he was coming back from a concussion suffered two weeks prior. He throws a very tight spiral, which helps against the wind he has to face in Chicago. He is making better decisions than he did last year, but still tries too often to fit the ball into tight spots. He needs to play smart on Sunday.


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