Packers At Texans Key Match Up #1: J.J. Watt vs. T.J. Lang

Thomas B. Shea - Getty Images

J.J. Watt is having a breakout year this year. If the Packers hope to sneak out a win in Houston they are going have to stop him and the main guy up for that task? T.J. Lang....who is having a better year than many may think.

It’s a down week this week in Packerland. We have lost Cedric Benson for the foreseeable future. We lost to the Colts…mostly because the Packers just gave up in the second half. We also get to look forward to playing the hottest team in the NFL this week….at their place.

Ugh.

That’s okay though, if the Packers can bounce back and sneak a win it will boast everyone’s spirit. The main way that’s going to happen is with us winning this first key matchup….T.J. Lang shutting down J.J. Watt. It can happen……right?

Right now J.J. Watt is having a fantastic year. He is one of the leading contenders for Defensive Player of the Year, he’s second in the league in sacks with 7.5 and has 26 total tackles. Chances are that you have watched some of the highlight shows this year and seen his name many, many times. The dude has been a disruptive force from the 3-4 DE position and has shown to be an idea 5 technique since he came out of Wisconsin.

The main guy to stop him is going to be Lang. Lang isn’t terrible (I know, not a great start to this, but hang with me), but he’s not quite as bad as most make him out to be. Since stepping into starting offensive lineup Lang has been an average to above average guard. Most of the time that’s what you want out of a guard. While it’s nice to have a HOF guard in there, guys like Steve Hutchinson in their prime just don’t come along. The most important thing is that Lang has been an upgrade over the wildly inconsistent Darryn Colledge.

The problem with a Lang vs. Watt matchup is that he’s not going to get help from Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse is going to have his hands full with Brooks Reed and a complement of other capable outside rushers. Instead if help is going to come for Lang it’s going to have to come from center Jeff Saturday. I don’t want to get too down on Saturday, but so far this year has not been kind to him. While he has not been a clear downgrade from Scott Wells, he also been a bit of a disappointment. Last week he was handled pretty well by the interior defensive line, and it has not been a unusual sight to see the pocket collapse from the inside this year.

Watt is a guy who is going to need to be team blocked. It’s unreasonable to expect Lang to handle a defensive lineman of this quality alone. That means it’s time for Saturday to play his best game as a Packer and Lang so why the Packers decided to give him starter money this offseason. It’s a tall order, but not one that’s completely unreasonable.

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