October 14, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) reacts after a play during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Packers vs Rams: Tommy Marquardt takes a look

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Coming off of last week’s solid performance, It could be easy for the Pack to relax, if it weren’t for weeks 1, 3 and 5. The focus was there on both sides of the ball from the first snap and lasted until the game was well in hand. That’s the Packers everyone expected to see this season. They showed signs of it in earlier games, particularly the Bears game, but never put that complete game together until last Sunday night. Will that focus and intensity carry through to this week’s game at the Rams?

GB Offense vs Rams D:

The Packers have given up the most sacks (23) in the NFL thus far, including 8 in the first half at SEA alone. That’s the bad news. The good news is that since that debacle in SEA (Ugh! I was there!) The Packers O-line has been very good in protection.

Since that 1st half against the seadawgs, the Packers have only allowed 7 sacks in 14 quarters (5 in the second half vs Indy). What they face this week is a defense who knows their offense will, most likely, not give them any room for error. The Rams Defense, like the rest of the Ds in the NFC West, is no slouch. They are tied for 5th in the league in sacks with 18 through 6 games. That makes them dangerous against the Packers pass first approach, especially considering that 9 of those sacks came on 1st and 2nd down.

Aaron Rodgers Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers
I’d expect to see Rodgers under some pressure early in the game, probably from the 2 DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn.  If the line can slow down the pass rush enough to give Rodgers time to get the ball out or use his mobility to create space, I think the Packers Offense will have a big day. If the opposite occurs and the Packers offense get’s itself in 2nd or 3rd and long situations, it will be a recipe for disaster ala Seattle.

I’d hope the game plan includes some quick passes to take some pressure off of Newhouse and Bulaga from the outset, an early screen pass might be nice. The secondary can be beat, especially if Rodgers gets some time.

GB Defense vs Rams O:

The Packers lead the league in sacks thanks, in a major part, to the Clay Matthews effect. The way Dom Capers has elected to move him around to create matchup problems is working well. Jeff Fisher has probably worked all week on addressing the matchup challenges he poses, but the Rams have some of the same protection problems as the Packers, giving up 18 sacks though 6 weeks.

I expect the Claymaker to draw the attention and while the Rams might hold him without a sack, it will likely be a net loser for the Rams offense as Worthy, Neal, and Pickett pick up the slack. If the pass rush can’t get to Sam Bradford multiple times today I’d be surprised.

The Rams rushing offense has been even more anemic than the Packers. They have just 1 rushing TD on the year, by Sam Bradford. Steven Jackson has been pedestrian and I don’t expect the Rams rushing game to suddenly come to life. I’d expect the Packers to ensure that is the case and make Sam Bradford beat them with his arm.

Bottom Line: The Packers are the better team in talent, coaching, and experience. The question is : Was last week the awakening of the sleeping giant or a moment of clarity for an inebriated drunk stumbling home? I’m betting on the former. PACKERS 31 – Rams 17

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