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Key matchup

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich vs. Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie

By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / February 5, 2012
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ABOUT NINKOVICH: During the regular season, the 6-foot-2-inch, 255-pound strong-side outside linebacker and sub rushing end was seventh on the team with 62 tackles (46 solo) and third with 6 1/2 official sacks. Ninkovich has 12 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in the postseason. In our observations, Ninkovich has 9 sacks, 14 hurries, 8 knockdowns (31 total quarterback pressures), and 7 stuffed runs in 18 games. Ninkovich had 27 1/2 pressures last season. He is a jack of all trades in that he plays linebacker and rush end, and will drop into coverage and defend tight ends.

ABOUT McKENZIE: The 2001 third-round pick of the Jets joined the Giants in 2005 and has started every game he’s been available for since his second season. McKenzie (6-6, 330) is an average player. He is second on the team to left tackle David Diehl in sacks allowed (8), hits (10), and pressures (56), according to profootballfocus.com. The Giants try to give him help with a tight end or a running back. He is slow to get into his set and can get off-balance.

SKINNY: Both of the Patriots’ outside linebackers - Ninkovich and Mark Anderson - should win their matchups against McKenzie and Diehl, respectively. If they don’t on a consistent basis, Eli Manning is going to hurt the Patriots. Ninkovich must be very careful to stay in his rush lanes and not allow Manning to make plays on the run.

EDGE: Patriots.

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