(3-5) Los Angeles Rams vs. (2-5) Green Bay Packers
In a matchup that would usually light up the eyes of any NFL fan, the Los Angeles Rams take on the Green Bay Packers in a contest where both franchises are looking to find their footing after a series of stumbling performances. Who will win? Who will lose? Can either team remember how to score? Will Aaron Jones play? Will Matthew Stafford play? We're still not sure about the answers to these and many other questions, but we will find out what happens when two very imploding teams meet at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Green Bay Packers haven't reached the end zone before halftime in any of their last five games. The Los Angeles Rams gave up four first-half touchdowns when they last took the field. This will be thunder and lighting in a bottle, or stadium in this case. The Packers have lost an impressive four games in a row compared to the Ram's two straight losses. They're perfect for each other, battling for a top-five draft pick, or so it appears.
Start Time: 1:00 PM EST
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
TV Info: Fox
Spread: Packers -3 0/U 38.5
ATS Records: Green Bay leads the series 49-47-2
Green Bay Packers:
Week 8 power ranking is 27th
Las Angeles Rams:
Week 8 power ranking is 19th
Los Angeles Rams
NAME, POS STATUS
Larrell Murchison DT QUESTIONABLE
Cobie Durant CB QUESTIONABLE
Matthew Stafford QB QUESTIONABLE
Puka Nacua WR QUESTIONABLE
Ernest Jones LB QUESTIONABLE
Green Bay Packers
NAME, POS STATUS
Elgton Jenkins G QUESTIONABLE
Rudy Ford S QUESTIONABLE
Luke Musgrave TE QUESTIONABLE
Aaron Jones RB QUESTIONABLE
Jaire Alexander CB QUESTIONABLE
Players to Watch:
Preston Smith, Packers outside linebacker, has recorded four sacks over his last three games. He had two sacks and forced a fumble Sunday in the Packers’ 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Smith turned 30 this year and isn't showing any signs of slowing down. He's been a great player/leader for the Packers organization. Smith had the highest passing rush grade in week 8, with a 92.8.
Jordan Love has thrown for 1,492 yards (135-for-234), with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions (213.1 YPG). He’s also carried the football 25 times for 164 yards and two scores, averaging 23.4 yards per game. Listen to what Mike Lombardi had to say on the Pat McAfee show about Jordan Love's situation in Green Bay: "If Brian Gutekunst doesn't think Jordan Love can play, he's gotta be honest with himself. The worst thing you can do is double down on a mistake" ~ Via Mike Lombardi
A.J. Dillon has somehow mastered a team-leading 266 rushing yards (38 per game) plus one touchdown. Oh snap, I take that back; I wouldn't watch him unless you like watching guys trip over their own feet to injure a teammate. I swear I'm not aggravated with Dillion's production this year. Well, maybe a little, but the offensive line hasn't been the most consistent, either.
Jayden Reed has 20 catches (on 37 targets) and leads the team with 314 receiving yards (44.9 per game) while hauling in three touchdowns. Reed seems like a much more solid draft pick for the Packers, unlike a similar body type WR draft pick in 2021, Amari Rodgers.
Matthew Stafford has thrown for 2,070 yards while completing 59.7% of his passes, with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions (258.8 yards per game).
Royce Freeman has rushed for a team-leading 110 yards on 21 carries (27.5 yards per game) while scoring one touchdown.
Cooper Kupp is averaging 79 yards per game, with 21 catches for 316 yards and one touchdown.
Aaron Donald has registered a team-leading 4.5 sacks while adding 10 TFL and 33 tackles.
Ernest Jones’ 75 tackles, nine TFLs, and one sack mean he’s the team’s top tackler.
Ahkello Witherspoon leads the team with two interceptions and has added 19 tackles, one TFL, and five passes defended.
Five Matchups To Watch:
RT Rop Havenstein vs. OLB Rashan Gary - If Havenstein plays on Sunday, this should be a good battle in the trenches. Gary leads the team with 28 total pressures and has a pass-rush grade of 82.8 per pff. Ranks 17th among qualifying edge rushers. Considering the Rams have one of the worst pass-blocking O-lines, Gary might have a field day.
WR Puka Nacua vs. CB Jaire Alexander- Nacua, a fifth-round pick from BYU, is tied for second in the league in receptions (61) and ranks third in yards receiving (795). Nacua will likely have a decent game if Alexander continues to play the way he has this season; despite dealing with a back injury, Alexander has given up 13 catches for 183 yards on just 16 targets.
OLB Byron Young vs. LT Rasheed Walker- Walker is filling in for David Bakhtiari, who's out for the year. Walker has given up 14 pressures in 7 games and a pass-blocking grade of 71.5. He's done as well as the Packers front office could hope and seems like a solid LT for the foreseeable future.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon vs. WR Christian Watson- Watson is 6'5" with killer speed on the perimeter. Witherspoon has the size and length to match up nicely with Watson but not the speed to keep pace with him on the deep routes. Watson had a better rookie year thus far, and the Packers hope he gets back on track sooner rather than later. Watson is a freak athlete, and I'm sure it'll just be a matter of time. Ryan Wood on what Christian Watson had to say about his struggles this season.
LG Steve Avila vs. DT Kenny Clark- Clark is having a down year, according to him. PFF has Kenny a grade of 56.5, by most standards, which is lacking some, but he still has 18 pressures and four sacks; the Packers would still like to see a little more production from him in the interior. Avila Shouldn't take Kenny lightly, as he can still wreak a game at a moment's notice. The Rams will most likely give Avila some help in the middle.
The Elephant In The Room
Pat McAfee talks about the Buffalo Bills bringing in Rasul Douglas and Leonard Fournette:
The NFL World was turned on its heel this week when the Packers traded one of the NFL's top corners, Rasul Douglas. In a shocking move, Green Bay accepted the Buffalo Bills' trade request for Douglas. The Packers received a third-round pick for him, and Green Bay will lose a fifth-round pick. Since Douglas signed with the Packers in 2021, he has had ten interceptions in 28 starts and was a bright spot on a dismal team. The loss of Douglas is the latest setback for a Packers secondary with cornerback Eric Stokes (hamstring) and safety Darnell Savage (calf) on injured reserve. Douglas’ exit likely means more playing time for rookie seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine.
The Bills (5-3) desperately needed a CB due to injuries, so Green Bay seemed happy to turn a once-practice squad player into a third-round pick. In many ways, it was a win-win for both teams but a surprise, to say the least. This trade has been brutal on Packers fans, especially the players. It would be challenging to convince me the team chemistry isn't highly compromised. It's going to be an exciting rest of the season, not to mention the Packers seem like they're headed for their first season with HBO's Hard Knocks. I believe it's time the world sees how Matt LaFleur runs his show.
This is what Packers RB Aaron Jones had to say about Rasul Douglas getting traded to the Buffalo Bills,
Rasul Douglas speaking to the Bills mafia for the first time after being traded by the Packers.
Led by Matthew Stafford, the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2022. This NFL season isn't going as smoothly for Stafford. He injured his throwing thumb in their 43-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. According to Rams head coach Sean McVay, he will be a game-time decision in this Week 9 contest against the Packers; Brett Rypien would likely start at quarterback if Stafford is unavailable. Although the 27-year-old Rypien has thrown twice as many career interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (four), he owns a 2-1 record in his three previous starts.
Green Bay's QB is in a different sort of predicament. After a strong start by QB Jordan Love, the Packers have lost their last four games. Green Bay's GM Brian Gutekunst said the next ten games are "very important" for Love. He is in his fourth season with the Packers, and he's had plenty of time to develop under future HOF QB Aaron Rodgers. Will Love be the next generational Green Bay QB? Another unanswered question!
Matthew Stafford injured his thumb in a loss against the Cowboys.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur was the offensive coordinator on McVay’s Rams staff in 2017. LaFleur and McVay also worked together as NFL assistants in Washington from 2010-13.
LaFleur's older brother, Mike LaFleur, joined McVay’s staff as OC this season. The LaFleurs also faced off last year when Mike was offensive coordinator for a Jets team that won 27-10 at Green Bay.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to be able to go against your friends, but all that goes out the window,” Matt LaFleur said. “You don’t even think about it really throughout the week. It’s just you see them right before game time, you kind of reconnect quick, and then you’re off to your sideline, and it’s just another opponent out there.”
Main photo courtesy of Getty Images: