The Packers failed to seize the opportunity to put a lockdown on the division in Minnesota, losing 34-31. The entire team looked a little disjointed and could not take advantage of the numerous opportunities they had to take control of the game. Their schedule has one final test before their much-needed bye week: a titanic matchup at Lambeau Field against the LA Rams. One of the biggest matchups of the 2021 season, the LA Rams come to Lambeau Field looking to prove that they are title contenders. If the Packers want to make a similar claim, they will need a herculean effort from some key players.
Kevin King/Rasul Douglas
It’s easy to pick of Kevin King as a fan. He has unforgettably memorable lapses in judgement and at times looks like he isn’t sure how to play defense. However, he has also had his share of excellent play and game changing ability flashing. If the Packers want to right the ship and get back into the win column, the defense is going to need the best version of him or have him be the best teammate and support Rasul Douglas if he takes over the starting job.
Douglas joined the team midseason and immediately began to contribute. He brought surprisingly sticky coverage coupled with aggressive and consistent tackling. He was everything the Packers hoped that Kevin King would evolve into. With King now healthy the past couple of weeks, King and Douglas have been doing what seems to be a rotation during the game. Overall, it seems that the defense has played better with Douglas on the field.
Against the Rams, they both will need to be at the top of their game against their deadly air attack. They boast a diverse route tree with elite athletes at receiver in Cooper Kupp and newly arrived Odell Beckham Jr. A big-time game from the Packers defensive backs is going to be absolutely critical to slowing down the Rams on Sunday.
The Packers have a gaping hole in their offense left behind by the season ending injury Robert Tonyan sustained midseason. For the first time against the Vikings, one of the Tight Ends stepped up. Josiah Deguara with a massive touchdown catch and showed effective blocking in the run game. He is still catching up from the rookie season he lost due to injury in 2020 but has shown flashes of what made him a 3rd round pick.
Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur need a Tight End they can trust to really make this offense hum. This week against the Rams Tight End can be the position that they highlight in the game plan. The Rams sport a ferocious pass rush, so chip blocks and quick passes to Josiah could be exactly what they dial up early and often to make the rushers pause. Expect Deguara to have a big role in the game plan this week.
Yosh Nijman has the biggest spotlight on him of all Packer players this week. After the heartbreaking season ending injury to Elgton Jenkins, Nijman steps up to be the starting Left Tackle. This is not his first time starting this season, having played a three-game stretch earlier this year against San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Overall, he played extremely well in those games and looked the part of an NFL tackle.
Nijman will have his biggest test this week, lining up against Von Miller or Leonard Floyd. Both are excellent pass rushers and are complete defenders. While the Packers will likely provide some help to Nijman’s side, there will be plenty of snaps where he will go one on one. If the Packers intend to make their stamp on the NFC and show that they are one of the contenders to represent the conference, they will need Nijman to win his matchups and have his best game of the year Sunday.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.