The Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers meet in a classic playoff battle between the NFL’s top defensive team and the league’s elite offensive squad. The Rams and their smothering defense, led by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, face a tough assignment slowing down Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s high-octane offense.
LA Rams’ head coach Sean McVay announced that quarterback Jared Goff will start in Green Bay. Backup John Wolford, who started in the NFC wild card against the Seattle Seahawks, suffered a neck injury (stinger) and will be out against Green Bay. Blake Bortles will be the Rams’ backup QB on Saturday.
Goff suffered a hand injury late in the season and missed Week 17 while recovering from surgery to fix his fractured thumb. He came off the bench to lead the Rams to victory over the Seattle Seahawks last week.
|#6 LA RAMS AT #1 GREEN BAY PACKERS|
- Kickoff: 1:35 pm PT
- Location: Lambeau Field in Green Bay
- Point Spread: GB -6.5
- Total: 45.5 o/u
The weather outlook for this NFC divisional-round game is cold. There’s no snow in the forecast in Green Bay, but temperatures will fluctuate between the low 20s and high 20s. That seems like a normal winter in the Midwest, but it’s been 80 degrees and sunny in SoCal this past week. The Rams get a taste of the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, where the Packers are 7-1 this season.
The Packers are +375 odds to win Super Bowl 55, according to a recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
LA Rams: Big D
If the Rams expect to win this game, it will begin and end with defense. If their defense can slow down Rodgers and Green Bay, then they’ll have a shot at the upset. McVay’s Rams are ranked #8 overall in DVOA, but the defense is ranked #1 in DVOA.
The Rams defense ranked #2 in sacks this season with 53. Against someone like Rodgers, constant pressure is the key to slowing down the Packers’ juggernaut offense.
The Rams also have a secondary that knows how to clamp down the passing game, allowing the fewest passing yards (190.7) in the NFL this season. The Rams limited Russell Wilson to 174 yards last weekend. They also picked him off. Aaron Donald sacked Wilson twice. Donald left the game prematurely with a rib injury, which won’t affect his availability on Saturday.
LA’s defense is ranked #3 in preventing third-down conversions (35.4%). Against a Hall of Famer like Rodgers, you can’t give him multiple chances to extend drives with successful first downs.
Rookie RB Cam Akers rushed for 131 yards on only 28 carries against the Seahawks. Akers also scored a touchdown in the victory.
WR Cooper Kupp injured his knee in the wild-card game. Goff’s favorite target is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision.
The Rams are an underdog by almost a touchdown. As a road dog last week, the Rams were getting +3 against the Seahawks and prevailed. Including the wild-card victory last week, the Rams are now 10-7 ATS this season. The Rams are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games.
Green Bay: Big O, A-Rod, and DA
Green Bay locked up the #1 seed in the NFC to secure a bye week. They’re well-rested while the road-weary Rams will play an away game for the second weekend in a row.
Green Bay averaged 31.8 points per game this season with the top offense in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers lit up opponents for 48 touchdowns, which is why he’s one of the favorites to win the MVP this season.
Davante Adams led the NFL this season with 18 touchdowns, but he’ll be lined up against Jalen Ramsey. That will be the marquee matchup in this game. Who will win the Adams vs Ramsey battle?
Rodgers likes throwing to TE Robert Tonyan (11 TDs), who scored seven touchdowns in his last eight games.
The Packers’ offensive line allowed only 21 sacks, ranking #2 in fewest sacks allowed. Green Bay will miss left tackle Dave Bakhtiari (blown out ACL), and his replacement will have a difficult assignment stopping Leonard Floyd from reaching Rodgers. Floyd recorded two sacks against Wilson last week.
Green Bay’s offense is the second-best in the NFL on third-down conversions. They also had the highest-rated red zone offense.
The Packers are ranked #2 overall in DVOA, with the #1 rated offense and a defense that’s rated #15. Green Bay’s inconsistent defense makes them vulnerable, but they meet a Rams’ offense that is the favorite to score the fewest points this weekend.
Green Bay posted a 10-6 record against the spread this season, making them one of the top ATS teams in the NFL this season.