Early Bird Breakdown Week 5: St. Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers
Hello internet, welcome to Early Bird Breakdown. The article that gives an early morning look into the Packers next game on the field and in the numbers. But first, let’s look at last week’s game:
Last week, Green Bay traveled out West to face the San Francisco 49ers and stop me if you’ve heard this one before but Aaron Rodgers played really efficient and the defense looked really good. That can basically summarize the entire season since the Chicago game week one (where Rodgers was really efficient but the defense…not so much). Rodgers offensively did enough, especially early to move the ball down field and give the team an early lead. Starting in the second half though the 49ers defense was able to get key sacks and force the Packers to punt, but the Green Bay defense was more than up to the task.
Last week San Francisco only combined for 186 total yards, thanks to six sacks and another stout performance. The defense is firing on all cylinders right now and if this keeps up the Packers should win all but maybe one or two games this season. The final score was 17-7 Green Bay.
Packers’ Offense vs Rams’ Defense
The one problem offensively that came last week was the result of pressure, as the 49ers were able to get key sacks to keep the game alive. This week will be an even harder to manage group up front, led by their up and coming superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The only good thing about Donald from the Packers’ prospective is that St. Louis took him one pick in front of the Chicago Bears selection in the 2014, preventing the Packers from playing him twice a year. He’s that good. He’s so good, he is playing on the same level as JJ Watt did during his seasons where he was challenging for MVPs. That is not hyperbole, that is a fact. According to Pro Football Focus, which judges a players overall impact and effectiveness based on a number of factors that can only be attributed by breaking down the game film (such as pass breakups, pass disruption, how well they clog running lanes, etc.) Aaron Donald has put up a stretch to start his sophomore season that projects out to the highest overall grade ever for any player of any position. Even traditional stats show just how explosive he is, as a rookie he got nine sacks at the interior defensive line position which is incredibly rare as they normally are not the ones who can get through to the quarterback. Donald possess a unique quickness and strength combination that allows him to run around or through the opposing offensive lineman.
Thankfully, our best lineman in Sitton, Linsley, and TJ Lang are the ones who will be lining up against this monster, and they are the most apt at mitigating a player like Donald’s impact. It still will be no small matter and he is not their only weapon on that defensive front. Fortunately, Green Bay got some good news this week that injured tackle Bryan Bulaga is expected to return and start today. If the Packers talented line can keep Rodgers relatively clean or at the very least let him find lanes to slip out of the pocket, Rodgers will have the openings to win this game.
The Rams have had consistency issues all season long. Weeks one and four they beat Seattle and the formerly undefeated Arizona Cardinals. However, weeks two and three they inexplicably lost to the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers who were without their starting quarterback. So far, the Rams seem to play up for the good teams and lay an egg against the bad teams, but if they take a week off this week it will get ugly fast.
Another piece of good news is that Eddie Lacy said he feels 100% and looks to have an even better performance than last week against San Francisco, where he ran for 90 yards. Getting him started will be key, however Lacy would be wise to run away from Aaron Donald.
The Rams’ Offense vs the Packers’ Defense
The Packers’ defense so far this season has been able to cash in on some weak offenses and this week is no different. While last week rookie running back Todd Gurley turned some heads and will be a big factor in this game, quarterback Nick Foles cannot get this offense up and going.
To put it simply, the Rams have the worst total offense in the league, gaining only 287 yards per game total. The Packers should be able to dominate the Rams’ inferior offensive line and keep St. Louis out of the endzone for most of the game.
Weather forecast shows sunny and mid 70s for the game. Should be a beautiful game.
While St. Louis presents another unique defensive challenge for Green Bay, we have seen this song-and-dance come to Green Bay and watched Rodgers dodge, dip, duck, and dive all around it. With a healthier Lacy and Bulaga returning, Green Bay will be able to score on this vaunted defense. On the flip side, outside of Todd Gurley playing incredible while Green Bay’s defense chokes, it is hard to imagine any normal way that the Packers’ now top-10-rated defense loses this game, let alone lets the Rams score. Green Bay should handle this game pretty easily and come out on top 31-20.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University