Three key matchups as the Packers battle the Rams.
Saturday afternoon should provide a classic at Lambeau Field between the Green Bay Packers‘ high-scoring offense and the Los Angeles Rams’ league-best defense.
A trip to the NFC Championship Game is on the line in what is set to be an interesting battle between two talented, well-coached teams.
Looking ahead to this matchup, what will be the three key matchups?
1. Davante Adams vs. Jalen Ramsey
No wide receiver has had a better season than Davante Adams. Jalen Ramsey spent the entire year shutting down the best pass-catchers matched up with him. Both players were named first-team All-Pros.
It leads to a great matchup between the two on Saturday.
Even after missing two games, Adams finished the regular season with 1,374 receiving yards and a league-best 18 touchdowns. No cornerback had an answer for him.
Ramsey will be Adams’ biggest test to date. The Rams’ star cornerback faced some of the best receivers in the game with three matchups against DK Metcalf, two versus DeAndre Hopkins, as well as Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson, and Amari Cooper.
According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, Ramsey didn’t allow a 100-yard game in any matchup with “notable” receivers this year. In three games against Metcalf, he allowed a combined four catches for 44 yards.
Now, one option for the Packers will be to move Adams into the slot more often. Ramsey may follow him but he spends most of his time on the outside.
But at some point in this game, Adams will be lined up opposite Ramsey. This matchup will be key in a close game.
2. Packers offensive line vs. Aaron Donald
Assuming he’s healthy, another Rams defensive player to be concerned about is Aaron Donald.
Donald can take over a game and dominate opposing offensive lines so the Packers need to be ready. Fortunately, center Corey Linsley was a first-team All-Pro and guard Elgton Jenkins is a Pro Bowler. The two will need to put in a strong performance to limit Donald.
The entire Rams defensive line is talented and will give the Packers’ offensive line a huge challenge, but Donald is the key player.
3. Packers run defense vs. Rams run offense
The recipe to beating the Packers is to the run the ball well.
In Green Bay’s three defeats this season, it gave up an average of 157 rushing yards and 1.67 touchdowns.
The Rams will try to accomplish the same. With Jared Goff still recovering from thumb surgery, Los Angeles will lean on its ground game. It did so with great success against the Seattle Seahawks a week ago, rushing 43 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. Rookie running back Cam Akers went 28-131-1.
Stopping the run has long been a problem for Mike Pettine’s defense, but something they’ve improved at down the stretch. In their past five games, they held their opponents to 109.4 rushing yards per game. While not world-beating numbers, it shows big improvements from earlier in the season.
The most impressive performance came in Week 16 versus the Tennessee Titans with the defense holding NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry to 23-98-0.
The addition of Damon “Snacks” Harrison will be important for this run defense. If this group can stop the run and put the game in the hands of Jared Goff, the Packers will be well set to win.