Opponent Preview: Green Bay Packers
If anybody thought the Green Bay Packers were struggling to start the season, they certainly looked like they had righted the ship Sunday night in Houston. The Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers hung 42 points on the previously undefeated Texans and once again looked like the team that could move the ball at will over the course of the past few seasons.
The game served as a statement for the team as a whole but also for Rodgers. Rodgers had struggled some in the earlygoing but threw six touchdown passes to run his season total to 16. And in what we’ve come to expect from Rodgers, he’s thrown only four interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Rodgers is at the top of the position.
” (He’s) as good as anyone can face right now,” Fisher said. “We’ve had some great match-ups over the years with Peyton (Manning) and (Tom) Brady, but Aaron is playing as good as you can play the position. Especially the effort that he had the other day against Houston was quite impressive.”
Also impressive is his complement of weapons on offense. Even with wide receiver Greg Jennings sidelined, wideouts Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb give Rodgers plenty of options in the passing game. Nelson had his coming-out party in 2011, but Cobb is the most recent Packers playmaker to emerge. Recently, Rodgers called Cobb one of the best draft choices Packers GM Ted Thompson has ever made.
Where the offense struggles is in pass protection. The offensive line has allowed 23 sacks in six games, second-most in the NFL. Rodgers is mobile, but the Rams will have their opportunities to bring him down in the backfield Sunday.
It’s not the same defense that won Super Bowl XLV, but the Packers still possess some dangerous players on that side of the ball. LB Clay Matthews is a one-man wrecking crew who already has eight sacks in six games. LB A.J. Hawk plays like the middle linebacker of the group, leading the team with 51 tackles. The other two linebackers as part of the 3-4, Nick Perry and D.J. Smith, are both dealing with injury; Perry hasn’t practiced all week, while Smith was placed on the injured reserve list this week. If Perry is unable to go on Sunday, the Rams could be looking at a very depleted linebacking corps.
Unfortunately for the Packers, some of their playmakers on defense have shown up on the injury report lately as well. NT B.J. Raji and CB Sam Shields, both starters, missed practice Wednesday. Raji was limited Thursday, while Shields missed practice again.
The Rams might be able to move the ball against the limping Packers defense. They’ll need all the yards and points they can get to keep up with the suddenly hot Packers offense.