So you plan to bet cold hard cash on Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round game between the possible 2020 MVP-led Green Bay Packers and the sometimes-off/sometimes-on Los Angeles Rams. Then you should be diligent in your research. The overall match-up appears considerably more complicated below the hyped up surface than it’s being made out to be. Not to mention, one other MVP leading candidate has already met his NFL playoff demise via death by horns. There is reason to believe the Rams could upset the Packers this weekend.
Five Reasons the Rams Could Upset the Packers
2020 NFL Divisional Round: #1 (13-3) Green Bay Packers vs. #6 (10-6) Los Angeles Rams, Saturday, 1:35 PT on FOX.
The Line: Packers by -6.5; Over/Under at 45.5
Sure, it’s likely mass opinion that Aaron Rodgers is the lead dog in the NFL 2020 MVP race. It’s a much easier and perhaps more exciting tidbit than Aaron Donald’s possible return as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. What’s more, Green Bay enters postseason play as one of the two hottest teams in the entire league (with the Buffalo Bills, six-game winning streak). This often means very little in the playoffs. That is, with the exception of oddsmaking (or bet-inspiring numbers placement). The ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach is alive and well here because football fans’ attention spans gets even shorter this time of year.
This is not to say that the Packers (regular season best NFC W-L record and highest-scoring NFL team) can’t win. They can and they should. But everyone knows that. Not everyone knows or believes the Rams have much of a chance as the sixth-seeded visitors at Lambeau Field.
Does this change your opinion(s) of who the Playoff winners and losers will be??? If so (or if not), share if you dare.#LARams #Packers #NFL #NFLPlayoffs #DivisionalRound
Things that make you go, Hmm. pic.twitter.com/vQ8Ub0Os1l
— Mob Times (@GridDawgs247) January 15, 2021
The Best Defense In The NFL Is Peaking At The Right Time
The Rams have some things in their favor. Mainly, Aaron Donald. Not only Donald but because of Donald, this unit is capable of overwhelming Rodgers on occasion. Every team knows this. They game plan for it, first thing. They throw double and triple-teams at him, more so than at any other player in the NFL. Guess what. Still, at season’s end, we’re discussing him in Defensive Player of the Year conversations.
Guess what else. The Rams defense was pretty stingy for most of the second half without him in that Wild Card game facing Russell Wilson. The point isn’t only that this unit was decent without him, they were solid with improved cohesiveness. Over the stretch of the final quarter of the 2020 season, they’ve solidified and taken the points allowed crown from under the Baltimore Ravens noses — this despite losing to the New York Jets.
In watching Aaron Rodgers highlights, one thing stands out that gives the Rams an advantage. Rodgers will not be able to step up in the pocket the way he does on several scoring plays this season. This, of course, means that the Packers will counter with short and quick passes underneath and add to tight ends targets. Advantage Packers, unless the Rams linebackers step up. But Los Angeles shows clever technique in passing off receivers from one defender to the next and often seamlessly via their preferred zone. Packers receiver Davante Adams will need to sharpen his already-crisp route running. He’ll be mostly successful on plays away from Jalen Ramsey but this puts Rodgers in the cross-hairs of the crafty corner Darius Williams. Pick on him too long, and Rodgers might pick wrong. Ask Seattle’s Mr. Wilson about being baited to perfection.
Is The Rams Main Obstacle Their Main Position?
Jared Goff starts in the Divisional Round game after John Wolford was ruled OUT for Saturday’s contest. This can be (and likely, will be) both good news and bad. The health of his throwing hand appears to have stabilized but that can be the least of his issues.
If Goff fails again to realize and create passing lanes, expect much of the same results that have plagued him in 2020. Too many balls were unspectacularly batted down last week on plays where little pressure was applied. This week, they play a team that can probably generate more. With luck, he’ll have a sharp first drive, get his confidence back and the hand is healed enough to throw more spirals than the week before.
The Last Word On The Divisional Round Match-up
Aaron Rodgers is 0-4 in the last 4 games against the #1 defense.
— George Hathaway (@hathawaygeorge9) January 15, 2021
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are the selection of most NFL analysts and experts. Still, it’s tough to bet against the defense of the Rams for fours reasons: 1: Now elite, they are very possibly still improving. 2: Aaron Rodgers doesn’t play well under intense pressure (see tweet). 3: The Rams offensive line is back healthy and if Goff goes down or re-injures his hand, Bortles has better pocket-awareness skills. 4: The Rams are capable of matching time of possession on any given Sunday. 5: Rams Front End: Aaron Donald is healthy enough to play while Leonard Floyd makes it hard for Rodgers to break containment. Additionally, the supporting cast is better against the run these days. The Rams secondary is one of the very best in the league. The 2020 NFL Divional Round Prediction: Rams 27, Packers 23.
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