All eyes will be on MVP favourite Aaron Rodgers as he takes the field opposite arguably the best defensive player in the game, Aaron Donald.
The Rams who were heavy outsiders last week advanced in the playoffs with a 30-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, whereas the Packers, holding the number one seed had a week off to recharge the batteries.
Goff starts for the Rams
Unlike the run-up to the last week’s game there will be no mystery regarding the Rams’ starting quarterback. With John Wolford suffering a neck injury in the first quarter against Seattle, Jared Goff stepped into the breach, and he will start against the Packers with Wolford unable to practice.
Goff finished last week with 155 yards and a touchdown from 9 for 19 passing but Rams’ head coach, Sean McVay is confident there will be an improvement, saying:
“When you watch him throw last week to this week, it is definitely trending in the right direction.
“It looks like the Jared that we’re accustomed to who has always been a natural thrower of the football.”
Goff had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand on December 28, and while McVay is happy with his progress, it remains to be seen how Goff will perform in near freezing conditions in Green Bay.
Rams get behind Akers and their number one defense
With the disruption suffered early in the game at the QB position, the Rams won last week off the back of a big performance by running back, Cam Akers (28 carries, 131 yards and 1 TD) and their number one defense sacking Russell Wilson five times. Depending on how Goff’s thumb holds up, LA may be looking for a repeat of last weeks’ winning formula.
Leonard Floyd and Donald led with two sacks each but according to Donald, anyone could step up:
“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us.
“It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”
MVP favourite Rodgers and the refreshed Packers
With the new playoff format, the Packers, as the NFC number one seed are the only team in the conference to get a rest before starting their playoff campaign. How much of an impact that will have for the Packers Superbowl hopes is of course still to be determined.
Before the bye in the playoffs the Packers had won six straight to finish the regular season which tied with the Buffalo Bills for the hottest streak. With the Packers effectively needing to win out to guarantee the number one seed they come into the playoffs on form and with a welcome break.
Only Kingsley Keke is on the injury report for Green Bay (concussion, doubtful), with David Bakhtiari ruled out for the rest of the season. Whereas for the Rams, Terrell Lewis is out with an ankle injury, Cooper Kupp (knee) and David Edwards (ankle) are doubtful.
Rodgers comes into this game after setting franchise single-season records for TD passes (48) and completion percentage (.707). He has thrown only five interceptions, leading an offense scoring a league best 31.8 points per game.
Goff must travel to cold, wintery Lambeau still not fully recovered from his thumb injury. The Rams will need to get behind on-form Akers and their number one defense early.
If anyone can break down the Rams’ defense, Rodgers can. With all his weapons available to him and rested up look for Rodgers and NFL receiving TD leader, Davante Adams to connect plenty. The Packers who outscored opponents 299-163 in the first half this season will try to build up a lead quick, that will force the Rams to put the ball in Goff’s hands rather than Akers.
Final Score: Rams 17 – Packers 35