The Los Angeles Rams enter Week 9 following back-to-back losses and their season hanging in the balance. Matthew Stafford’s status is in question and with the Rams sitting at 3-5 with a winnable game upcoming before the bye, they need their starting quarterback more than ever.
It can be argued that the Rams are playing for their season on Sunday. A loss would put them at 3-6 and they would likely need to go 6-2 down the stretch in order to make a push for the playoffs. However, a win would give them some positive momentum heading into the bye week and put Los Angeles in a much more manageable spot at 4-5.
Rams Offense vs. Packers Defense
The Rams should be able to find some success on the ground and running the ball. By most metrics, the Packers are a bottom-10 or bottom-5 run defense. This is a game where the Rams need to lean on the run game and play ball control. No team gives up more plays per drive than the Packers.
Obviously, the biggest question for the Rams is with Matthew Stafford’s health. While running the ball should be successful in theory, they need to be able to show the threat of pass. Even if not 100 percent healthy, Stafford at least gives the Rams offense that threat. Much like the 2020 wild card game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams need to lean on the run game and only ask Stafford to make throws when absolutely necessary.
Matchup to Watch: Rams WRs vs. Packers DBs
While the key is going to be running the ball with Darrell Henderson, it is going to be interesting to watch how the Rams wide receivers matchup with the Packers defensive backs. Green Bay traded away their best coverage cornerback this week in Rasul Douglas. Jaire Alexander is still very good, but the next man up is a rookie in Carrington Valentine. That’s a matchup that the Rams should be able to exploit.
Rams Defense vs. Packers Offense
The last five quarters for the Rams defense has left a lot to be desired. They need a get-right game and this matchup against the Packers is a good opportunity for that. However, they need to get back to playing how they were in Weeks 1-6 and the first three quarters of Week 7.
Jordan Love struggles against the blitz, especially when it comes to accuracy. Don’t be surprised if Raheem Morris picks his spots to bring pressure. The Packers also have one of the least explosive offenses in the NFL while the Rams have allowed the fifth-most explosive plays. Which side breaks in Week 9?
Matchup to Watch: Rasheed Walker vs. Byron Young
Whether it is Rasheed Walker or Yosh Nijman at left tackle for the Packers, that’s a matchup that the Rams can exploit. Walker has allowed 14 pressures this season and has struggled at times this season. This is a chance for Young to have an impact and for Morris to get creative and line-up Aaron Donald on the edge in passing situations.
It’s very unfortunate that Matthew Stafford is hurt heading into this game. With a healthy Stafford, the Rams could have had a very positive offensive performance heading into the bye week. Now, they are looking to just get by and maybe get a win.
If Stafford plays, the Rams should still be able to come out with a victory. He poses just enough of a threat throwing the ball where the Rams can lean on the run game. Brett Rypien is very erratic as a passer and it could be a long day on offense if Stafford can’t go.
Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman should be able to find success on the ground. Still, at some point the Rams are going to have to make plays through the passing game. The question is, who will be playing quarterback and whoever that is, can they make those plays?
Prediction: Rams 23, Packers 20