green bay packers vs los angeles rams prediction and preview

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NFL green bay packers vs los angeles rams prediction and preview


 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

 

 

The top-seeded Green Bay Packers get their shot at returning to the NFC Championship Game after losing in the title game to the San Francisco 49ers last season. The Packers will face an NFC West opponent for the second straight season in the Divisional Round, as they host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday. Green Bay defeated the Seattle Seahawks in last year’s playoffs by a score of 28-23. The Rams are coming off a 30-20 victory over the Seahawks in the wild card round last week, while the Packers clinched the number one seed in the NFC in their last game, a 35-16 thumping of the Chicago Bears in their regular-season finale. These two teams did not face each other in the regular season.

Green Bay is 10-6 against the spread this season, while the over-under is 9-7. The Packers have covered the spread in each of their last two games, including their 19-point win over Chicago in which they were a 4.5-point favorite. Los Angeles is 10-7 against the spread (including the playoffs). The total has gone under in 12 of their 17 games this season. The Rams have also covered the spread in their last two games. They were a three-point underdog in their wild-card win over the Seahawks.

(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Saturday morning.)

Line Movements:

There has been some movement in regards to the line in this contest this week in favor of the visitors. This game opened with the Packers as a seven-point favorite but as of Saturday morning, Green Bay now stands as a 6.5-point favorite in the contest at most sportsbooks for this contest. A solid majority, 59 percent, of the bets ATS, are backing the Packers giving the points at home in this NFC Divisional Playoff battle where the winner moves on to the NFC Championship Game.

The over/under has moved down slightly in this contest as well. After opening at 47 points, the total now sits at the 45.5 or 46-point mark at the majority of sportsbooks for this one. 55 percent of the wagers on the total in this contest are of the mindset that this one ends up going under the mark.

Game-time Weather: The weather is going to be pretty favorable, which is a surprise for this time of year in the frozen tundra. Game-time temperatures are expected in the mid-30s under mostly cloudy skies with the real-feel in the high-20s. The mercury will fall into the low-30s during the contest with the real-feel in the mid-20s and there is less than a 10 percent chance of precipitation in the forecast for this one. Winds are from the northwest at eight miles an hour with the gusts topping out at 12 miles per hour.

 

The walking wounded go for second straight playoff upset

The Los Angeles Rams may not have a huge injury report in terms of number of players, but in terms of potential impact to the game, it may not get any bigger. All-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald should be on the field on Saturday after suffering a rib injury in their playoff game last week, but how effective will he be? Only time will tell. Moving to the offensive side of the ball, leading-receiver Cooper Kupp is dealing with a knee injury that may keep him out of Saturday’s game. Even if he does suit up, he will be less than 100%. That brings us to the quarterback position. Goff or Wolford? I don’t envy head coach Sean McVay this week having to make this call. A lot will depend on the respective health of the quarterbacks, but if both are healthy enough to play, who should it be?

 

Let’s examine the quarterback choice. Jared Goff is coming off his best season, in terms of completion percentage, of his five-year career, as he completed 67.0% of his passes this season. However, he had his lowest yardage total since 2017 (3,952) and his 20 touchdown passes were his lowest total since his rookie season, in which he only played seven games. Goff also had his second-worst interceptions with 13. He had thumb surgery on December 28, which forced him to miss the regular-season finale. He did not start the playoff game last week, but completed just nine of 19 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown after John Wolford went down with an injury in the first quarter. To top it all off, rumors surfaced this week about the Rams possibly looking to trade Goff in the offseason to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson.

The 25-year old Wolford made his NFL debut in the Rams last regular-season game, helping them clinch a playoff spot by defeating the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 18-7. He completed 57.9% of his passes in that game for 231 yards and an interception. He also rushed for 56 yards on six carries. In Los Angeles’ playoff game last week, Wolford was just 3-6 for 29 yards before a neck injury forced him from the game. He is listed as questionable for their game on Saturday.

“I think it’s really, for a talkative guy just saying, ‘We’ll take it a day at a time’ and that’s what I’m sticking to,” McVay said on usatoday.com about the QB situation. “It’s not hard behind the scenes because you communicate to your players. But I don’t think it does us any benefit making those announcements right now, whether we know or whether we don’t know what that scenario is. It’s the first time, but you get a little bit shorter answers from me than you’re accustomed to, I guess.”

With their quarterback position in flux, their top wide receiver questionable, and their two-time Defensive Player of the Year banged up, the Rams will have to rely heavily on their running game on Saturday if they are to have any thoughts about pulling off the upset. Cam Akers, who rushed for a team-leading 625 yards in the regular season, ran for 131 in their playoff game last week, which was just his second 100-yards game of the season. Darrell Henderson, Jr. was the team’s second-leading rusher in the regular season, but he was placed on Injured Reserve two weeks ago with an ankle injury. If Kupp (92 catches for 972 yards and three touchdowns) is unable to go, the bulk of the receiving work will fall on the shoulders of Robert Woods, who was nearly as good as Kupp this season. Woods had 90 receptions for 936 yards and a team-leading six touchdown catches.

The Rams had the best defensive team in the NFL this season, as they ranked first in the league in points allowed per game (18.5), total yards allowed per game (281.9), and passing yards allowed per game (190.7). They were also third in rushing yards allowed, giving up just 91.3 yards per game on the ground. Offensively, Los Angeles averaged 23.3 points per game and 377 total yards per game.

Los Angeles Rams Injury Report:

OUT: OL Brian AllenG Chandler Brewer, S Terrell Burgess, RB Raymond Calais, RB Darrell Henderson Jr., LB Travin Howard, WR Trishton JacksonLB Justin Lawler, LB Terrell Lewis, S Taylor Rapp, QB John Wolford

Questionable: T David Edwards, LB Leonard Floyd, WR Cooper Kupp

 

Like a fine wine, Rodgers getting better with age

As other aging quarterbacks in the NFL are declining in their skill sets, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has emerged as the front-runner for this season’s NFL MVP Award...at age 37! Rodgers had possibly the best overall season of his Hall of Fame career in 2020, as he led the NFL in completion percentage with 70.7%, the second time in his career that he has topped the 70% mark. He had his ninth 4,000 yards passing season of his career, as he threw for 4,299 yards, and had a career-best 48 touchdown passes to lead the NFL in that category this season. It was only the third time that he has thrown for at least 40 touchdowns in a season. Combine all that with the fact that he threw only five interceptions and was sacked a career-low 20 times, and you have the makings of a third NFL MVP season for Rodgers.

 

"I've really tried to savor every moment this year and enjoy the heck out of everything, like just hearing the sounds and feeling the interactions in the locker room and just enjoying those moments," Rodgers said on nfl.com. "It's not necessarily, 'Look, this is my last year in Green Bay,' but I know that my time in the league is way closer to the end than the beginning, and I just want to really savor all the things that make our game what it is, and the experience what it is.”

The Packers enter Saturday’s game riding a six-game winning streak and winners of eight of their last nine games. Their last loss was an overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on November 22. Green Bay’s other two losses have been to Minnesota (by six points) and to Tampa Bay (by 28 points). Rodgers isn’t the only Packers player to have a career year this season. Davante Adams had a career-high 115 catches this season, just the second time in his seven-year career that he has had over 100 receptions in a season. He had his second 1,000-yard season, with 1,374 yards and had a career-high 18 touchdown catches, which led the NFL this season. He did all of this while missing two-and-a-half games due to injury.

Running back Aaron Jones also had a career-year, as he rushed for 1,104 yards, which was fourth-best in the NFL, in just 14 games this season. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry this season, and rushed for nine touchdowns, as he had a 77-yard run this season, which was the longest of his career.

Green Bay was the highest-scoring team in the NFL this season, averaging 31.8 points per game. They averaged 389 yards per game (fifth in the NFL), 256.6 passing yards per game (ninth), and 132.4 rushing yards per game (eighth). Defensively, the Packers are giving up 23.1 points per game and 334 total yards per game.

Green Bay Packers Injury Report:

OUT: DL Montravious Adams, T David Bakhtiari, LB James BurgessTE Josiah Deguara, CB Kabion Ento, RB Tyler Ervin, WR Devin Funchess, S Raven Greene, QB John Lovett, CB Parry Nickerson, G Simon Stepaniak, G Lane Taylor, RB Patrick Taylor, T Jared Veldheer

Doubtful: DL Kingsley Keke

Questionable: CB Kevin King, WR Allen Lazard, LB Za’Darius Smith, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, TE Jace Sternberger, T Rick Wagner, DE Billy Winn





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