Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers Matchup Preview (1/16/21): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
The Rams earned an impressive 30-20 win over the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round last week as their defense dominated what had been a high-octane Seattle offense. LA’s defense will be put to the test again this week as they face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL during the regular season. The Rams allowed the fewest points per game during the regular season, so this is certainly a case of strength on strength. It isn’t expected to be snowing in Green Bay on Saturday, but with the weather forecast in the 30s and 10+ mph wind, it’s going to be the perfect conditions for a home game at Lambeau. Will the Packers overcome what is perhaps the best defense in football and keep their hopeful Super Bowl run alive? Or will Aaron Donald and the Rams earn a playoff upset for the second straight week? For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers Matchup Page.
Date: Saturday, January 16th
Time: 4:35 PM ET
Location: Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI
TV Coverage: FOX
Rams vs. Packers Live Stream
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Los Angeles Rams: DE Aaron Donald (ribs) Q, WR Cooper Kupp (knee) Q, QB John Wolford (neck) Q, OG David Edwards (Achilles) Q, S Taylor Rapp (knee) IR eligible to return
Green Bay Packers: OT Ricky Wagner (leg) Q, DE Kingsley Keke (concussion) Q, OG Simon Stepaniak (knee) Q, CB Kabion Ento (undisclosed) IR eligible to return, DB Parry Nickerson (hamstring) IR eligible to return, S Raven Greene (shoulder) IR eligible to return, LB James Burgess (hamstring) IR eligible to return, RB Tyler Ervin (foot) IR eligible to return
Los Angeles Rams Analysis
The Rams rolled out quarterback John Wolford last week for just his second career start, but he left the game after just six pass attempts when a late hit by Jamal Adams caused a horrifyingly hard hit to the head and neck area. Wolford was released from the hospital this week, but I would expect Jared Goff to be the starter for Los Angeles this week. Despite his broken thumb, Goff provided solid play in relief of Wolford last week as he completed 9 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. With LA’s defense and run game excelling, Goff didn’t have to do a whole lot, but he could be asked to provide even more passing production this week against Green Bay.
Rookie running back Cam Akers was the star of the show for LA last week with 28 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown. General manager Les Snead’s draft selection of Akers at #52 overall was a heavily-criticized one, but the former Florida State runner is proving worthy of that lofty pick. Akers was on the field for 75% of snaps against the Seahawks and even contributed with a 44-yard reception that showed off his remarkable balance, change-of-direction ability, and short-area quickness. The Seahawks were a well-above-average run defense during the regular season, while Green Bay was more beatable on the ground, and you can be confident Akers will be a huge part of the Rams’ plans again this week.
Despite catching passes from two quarterbacks, one with a broken thumb, on Saturday, the Rams’ wide receivers had solid games. Cooper Kupp led the group with 4 catches for 78 yards, and while he’s dealing with a knee injury, it would be surprising to see him sit out this week. Assuming he does play, he will likely see a lot of Chandon Sullivan in the slot, a player he’s more than capable of beating. Robert Woods caught 4 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown against Seattle last week, but he’ll draw the more difficult matchup on the perimeter against Jaire Alexander, a 2nd-team All-Pro cornerback this season. Alexander won’t shadow Woods, and he’ll likely spend some time covering Josh Reynolds as well. When Woods is matched up with Kevin King, he’ll have the advantage.
The Rams’ offensive line is well-positioned heading into this game, especially with the return of stalwart veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth from Injured Reserve last week. He’ll play a key third-down role against part-time pass rusher Rashan Gary who had 5 sacks during the regular season in limited snaps. David Edwards is questionable for this game with an Achilles injury. Still, he’s been on the injury report for a handful of weeks and should be able to join Austin Blythe and Austin Corbett in the middle of the offensive line. On the right side, Rob Havenstein will have the toughest test of the group against Za’Darius Smith, who was a Pro Bowl edge defender with 12.5 sacks and 23 QB hits during the regular season.
Los Angeles’s biggest strength is its defense as first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley led a unit that allowed the fewest points and the fewest yards in the NFL. Aaron Donald was the lead soloist in the orchestra as he put together a season worthy of his third Defensive Player of the Year nod. He finished with a team-high 13.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 27 quarterback hits. Leonard Floyd also had a tremendous season with 10.5 sacks, 55 tackles, and 19 QB hits. Morgan Fox (6 sacks), Michael Brockers (5 sacks), and Samson Ebukam (4.5 sacks) have also played a significant part in the pass rush. The Rams also feature Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams, arguably the best cornerback duo in the NFL. Williams had a pick-six last week, and he and Ramsey held D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to just a 46.6% catch percentage last week.
Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart
Green Bay Packers Analysis
As I mentioned in the introduction, Aaron Rodgers has put together arguably the best season of his career and is likely going to take home his third MVP award. He completed a career-high 70.7% of his passes during the regular season and threw 48 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, good for the best TD:INT ratio of his career. He also led the NFL in passer rating (121.5) and QBR (84.3) during the regular season and was obviously instrumental in the Packers scoring 31.8 points per game, the most in the NFL. Rodgers is at the top of his game, and he’s going to have to continue to be to take down this fearsome Rams’ defense.
Rodgers won’t be without help in his attempt to beat the Rams, though. Davante Adams joined him as a First-Team All-Pro nominee with 115 catches for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games. The Rodgers-Adams connection is arguably the best of any quarterback and wide receiver in the NFL, but Adams will be facing his toughest test of the season, arguably against the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. Outside of Adams, none of the receivers have been particularly dominant. Robert Tonyan did score 11 touchdowns on just 52 catches, which should have earned him a Pro Bowl nod. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard each finished the regular season with 33 catches, while MVS had 6 touchdowns and Lazard had 3 scores.
Aaron Jones was the only other Packers’ skill player to get a Pro Bowl nod – he had 201 carries for 1,104 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground as well as 47 catches for 355 yards and another two scores through the air. Los Angeles’s run defense was just as potent as their pass defense in some respects, so Jones won’t find a lot of running room this week. The last time Jones faced the Rams was in 2018, a game he finished with 12 carries for 86 yards (7.2 YPC) and a score. However, this LA defense is certainly a tougher one to run on. Jamaal Williams (119-505-2) and rookie A.J. Dillon (46-242-2) were also fairly involved on the ground during the regular season.
Green Bay’s offensive line will take on a different structure this week after their recent signing of veteran tackle Jared Veldheer, a player who started at left tackle last week for the Colts. He becomes the first player in NFL history to get a start for two different teams in back-to-back weeks in the playoffs. David Bakhtiari was lost for the season with a torn ACL prior to the team’s game against the Titans, while Ricky Wagner is dealing with multiple leg injuries, and his status is in doubt for this game. Wagner was rolled up on during the Bears game, but he proceeded to gut it out and play every snap. Yosuah Nijman, a developmental rookie, is the only other offensive tackle on the roster, so Veldheer was a great acquisition for veteran insurance.
Billy Turner will likely return to the right tackle spot this week, where he’ll face Leonard Floyd. First-team All-Pro center Corey Linsley will have the toughest assignment against Aaron Donald, who was also a First-Team All-Pro player. Linsley will get help from offensive guards Lucas Patrick and rookie Elgton Jenkins. Offensive line coach Adam Steveniak will have his work cut out for him to put together a strong gameplan against one of the best front sevens in the NFL with limited personnel. The Rams sacked Russell Wilson five times last week, and keeping Aaron Rodgers upright has to be the Packers’ number one priority.
Green Bay’s defense was solid this season in allowing 23.1 points per game, the 13th-fewest. They were especially strong against the pass in ranking top ten in both passing yards and touchdowns allowed. Cornerback Jaire Alexander, a second-team All-Pro player, was the leader of the defense and one of the best shutdown corners in football. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage provided one of the best safety tandems in the NFL, as well. Za’Darius Smith led the team with 12.5 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 23 quarterback hits and earned a Pro Bowl nod in the process as one of the best edge defenders in the NFL. Rashan Gary (5 sacks), Preston Smith (4 sacks), Kingsley Keke (4 sacks), and Dean Lowry (3 sacks) were important parts of the pass rush as well.
Green Bay Packers Depth Chart
Spread: Packers -6.5, Rams +6.5
Moneyline: Packers -320, Rams +260
Over/Under: 45.5 points
Early on, most bettors are taking the Packers’ side of this line, and I can’t blame them. The Rams come in as the much more injured team with their quarterback, top wide receiver, and starting offensive guard dealing with injuries on the offensive side. With Goff’s limited production, I’m not sure I buy into the Rams being able to score enough points to keep this game close. Goff also has a poor track record in cold weather conditions. The Rams relied on their defense to generate turnovers for good field position last week, and the Packers come in as one of the least turnover-prone teams in the NFL.
LA’s defense will also undoubtedly be hampered by Aaron Donald not being at 100% health. He faces Corey Linsley, the First-Team All-Pro center, and I would give the edge to Linsley in this matchup given Donald’s injuries. However, I don’t expect the Packers to be the same dynamic offensive force with Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams working on Davante Adams downfield. Even with 70% of Aaron Donald, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley should be able to provide a strong plan against Green Bay’s offense. Especially with the cold weather, I’m leaning towards the under in this game. I’ll take the Packers to cover the touchdown spread at home, as well.
My predictions: Packers win 26-16, Packers cover, under 45.5 points
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Daily Fantasy Picks
In what I project as a low-scoring affair in cold weather, there isn’t a lot of DFS value to go around. Jared Goff is squarely off the radar for me given his poor track record in the cold, especially given his injury. Cooper Kupp’s knee issue makes him a hard sell, and Robert Woods’s matchup with Jaire Alexander is certainly sub-optimal. The only player on the Rams I would advocate for in DFS is Cam Akers, who put up 25.5 PPR points against the Seahawks last week. Green Bay was vulnerable to the run during the regular season, and we should see a lot of Akers with Goff’s continued broken thumb. On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams lack their typical upside against the phenomenal Rams’ defense. However, they still provide an excellent baseline with their terrific fantasy production all year. Aaron Jones is an enticing play in the cold weather, especially with Aaron Donald’s injury putting some doubt on the Rams’ front seven. Robert Tonyan is a strong upside play at tight end with his propensity to score touchdowns this season.