Another exciting showdown is looming on the horizon as the Los Angeles Rams recently snagged a Wild Card victory to set up a divisional round matchup against the top-seeded Green Bay Packers.
Rams head coach Sean McVay and his team recently battled toe-to-toe with the Seattle Seahawks despite being the underdogs. Defense was the name of the game for the Rams even after star defensive end Aaron Donald exited the floor due to a rib injury.
On the other end of the field, quarterback John Wolford also suffered a neck injury, which brought him out of the game in the first half. The team’s hurt starting quarterback in Jared Goff was forced to play under center despite his thumb injury and still managed to deliver for the Rams.
With a stifling defense along with a capable offense, the Rams stepped on the gas pedal to run away with a 30-20 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Packers have already gained a week’s worth of rest after taking the first-round bye as the No. 1 NFC team.
Nonetheless, they still gained momentum coming off a commanding 35-16 win against the Chicago Bears to end their regular season campaign on a strong note with a 13-3 record.
Here are four predictions for the NFC divisional round from the Packers’ standpoint:
1. Aaron Rodgers will have a lowered production against Aaron Donald and Co.
It has been a long time since the Packers last faced a good defensive team. If one can recall, Rodgers wasn’t particularly at his best when the Packers faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in Week 6 action.
The two-time NFL MVP was limited to only 160 yards on 16 of 35 passes completed without a touchdown scored. He also threw an interception and amassed four sacks in the game.
With Rodgers’ measly output under center, the receiving corps also failed to gain any momentum throughout the game. Davante Adams already led the aerial attack with 61 yards on six catches without a single touchdown.
Basically, the entire Packers offense was stunned after they were contained by the underrated Bucs defense. The Packers went on to suffer a disappointing 38-10 loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Despite Aaron Donald not in the pink of health, the Rams’ defensive line is still loaded and will most likely cause headaches for Rodgers in the game, more so with offensive tackle David Bakhtiari now ruled out of the season.
2. Packers’ running game will be utilized more against the Rams
Basing on their game against the Buccaneers, the Packers didn’t find any success with the receiving corps. However, they did manage to score a touchdown thanks to running back Aaron Jones who sneaked in 15 yards on 10 carries for a score in the end zone.
With the Rams having a lockdown defender in cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the Packers can expect the passing lanes to be clogged once again. Head coach Matt LaFleur would most likely utilize his running game to break loose against the tight Rams defense.
Moreover, Jones is also coming off a good outing against the Bears in Week 17 where he tallied 42 yards on 11 carries for a touchdown. He ended his regular season with a total of two receiving touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns.
Another running back in Jamaal Williams is also looking to contribute while rookie A.J. Dillon is aiming to carve a bigger role in the divisional round. He is only two games removed from his breakout performance against the Tennessee Titans in Week 16 where he generated 124 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns for a 40-14 victory.
3. Packers receiver will score a TD
As mentioned earlier, Rodgers will have a limited production under center but it doesn’t mean that he won’t find a way to make things work. After the Buccaneers game in Week 6, the Packers buckled down and handled their business by winning nine of their next 11 games, accounting for a 13-3 regular-season record.
The Packers are heading to their first playoff tilt with a more fluid offense and adjustments made against a good defensive team this time around. WR1 Davante Adams will certainly get his touches while Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and tight end Robert Tonyan are all looking to contribute to the offense as well.
4. Packers win tightly contested victory, advance to the conference championship
The Rams will still look to play party spoilers in Green Bay just as they did last week in Seattle. However, the quarterback situation will certainly be a deal-breaker as both Goff and Wolford are still dealing with their respective injuries. A few days before the game, the Rams are still figuring out who will be their playmaker under center on the field.
On the other hand, Rodgers can still counter the Rams defense as he currently plays alongside a stifling offensive line, even without Bakhtiari at the helm. He will get to further cement his legacy and strengthen his candidacy for the NFL MVP if he manages to outplay the Rams defense in the divisional round. It won’t be an easy task but having a great quarterback in Rodgers will certainly help the Packers overcome the Rams.
Moreover, Rodgers and Co. will get to prove that their performance in the regular season was no fluke if they emerge victorious against their counterparts on Saturday. From how the two teams stand today, it might be a neck-and-neck battle but the victory will still go the way of the Packers.
Nonetheless, a veteran-laden offensive team going up against one of the best defensive teams in the league will certainly be a show for football fans everywhere.