As a Rams fan, I'm nervous about this game (then again I get worried about every game). A team with Aaron Rodgers, coming off a bye, with a top ten rated offense and defense is no walk in the park. The oddsmakers don't seem to think it will be close, picking the Rams to win by nine. That's the most significant underdog the Packers have been in the Aaron Rodgers era. I hope they are right. My personal opinion is that the Rams should win if they play well, but a Packer win would not shock me at all.
Packers Offense Vs. Rams Defense
This game could be a battle of the Aarons Rodgers versus Donald. Many folks think Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, with apologies to Tom Brady. There are even some who think he might be the best. Green Bay is averaging 317 yards per game through the air, second only to Atlanta and only by 1 yard per game. One area that may raise some concern for the Packer offense is the fact that Green Bay is giving up an average of 3.5 sacks per game. That's not good against what is probably the best trio of defensive lineman in the league in Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Micheal Brockers. Donald went on an absolute tear last week against the Niners, logging four sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in which he just took the ball out of a San Francisco running backs hands. If he plays like that this week, this game could be the blowout oddsmakers are predicting, or maybe even more than that. My guess is the Packers will double up on AD, which is still no guarantee of success. It also opens things up for Brockers and Suh, who is capable of wrecking a game as well. With Rodgers still playing with a knee brace and lacking some of his usual mobility, I think Green Bay will emphasize the short passing game. That could mean many targets for tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Aaron Jones. Jones is also averaging 5.9 yards per carry and could see a fair number of rushing attempts if Green Bay follows the script that some other teams have against the Rams and goes ''smashmouth" to try to keep the potent Rams offense off the field. Either way, the Rams linebacking crew needs someone other than just Corey Littleton to step up. Samson Ebukam last week showed flashes against the 49ers, he needs to follow that up this week. The Rams secondary also played somewhat better, and I'll give props to corner Troy Hill (who I have sometimes been critical of) for grabbing a pick and playing well overall. He'll likely see a lot of the Packers best receiver, Davante Adams, in what could be one of the key matchups in this game. The Packers wideouts Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison look to be healthy for this game. If the Rams defense that we saw last week makes another appearance and especially if AD continues his reign of terror against NFL offenses the Rams could win this game in a route. However, we're talking about Aaron Rodgers against a defense that has been up and down. Sorry, Ram fans, but honestly I have to check the box for Green Bay here (hoping I am wrong).
Rams Offense vs. Packers Defense
Todd Gurley is having an MVP caliber season, and he could be the key to this game. While the Rams have the number one rushing offense in the league, and Gurley is the NFL's leading rusher, Green Bay is 22nd in rushing defense. I also don't think the Green Bay linebackers match up well against Gurley. When the Rams offense is clicking (and it usually is) they run a lot of play action, and Green Bay does not have the luxury of loading up the box to stop Gurley, given the Rams explosive passing game. While the Packers are fifth in the league in passing defense, the Rams could have a big day against a young Green Bay secondary. Green Bay is averaging a very respectable three sacks per game, but the Rams offensive line may be the best in the league right now. They do, of course, need to contain Clay Matthews, still one of the league's better pass rushers. One concern for the Rams is the likely absence of receiver Cooper Kupp. Josh Reynolds and Nick Williams, who more or less replaced Kupp last week, had three catches but didn't quite set the world on fire. However, Rams receiver Brandin Cooks is leading the NFL in yards per target, and fellow receiver Robert Woods is playing at a pro-bowl level. If Gurley has the kind of day I expect, both running and receiving, I think the Rams could score 40-plus points in this game.
Corey Littleton has two blocked punts this season, Greg Zuerlein is maybe the league's best placekicker, and Jojo Natson is a weapon returning punts for the Rams. Rams punter Johnny Hekker has had a couple of off games over the course of the season, but I still consider him the best punter in the NFL. Packers placekicker Mason Crosby has had some big misses this season, but he's a veteran kicker who typically handles the pressure. He's no Zuerlein, however. The one concern for the otherwise outstanding Rams special teams this season has been too many penalties, especially blocking in the back calls on punt returns. Even so, the Rams special teams are a big weapon overall.
I don't think either defense will be able to stop the opposing offense, although the Rams will hopefully continue a recent pattern of getting key sacks and turnovers. The quarterback matchup features a couple of former University of California stars who are both rocking passer ratings over 100 this season. I do think Jared Goff has a better offensive line and better weapons around him, and Todd Gurley could have a monster game.