It took until early Sunday night but the Green Bay Packers finally know who their opponent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs will be.
Thanks to its win over Seattle and New Orleans beating Chicago, the Los Angeles Rams will come to Lambeau Field on Saturday (3:35 p.m.) to face quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Rams were powered largely by their defense this season as they went 10-6. That unit ranked No. 1 in the league in total yards allowed (281.9 ypg), passing yards allowed (190.7) and in points allowed (18.5 ppg) per game. Offensively, Los Angeles ranked 11th in total yards but 23rd in scoring (23.3 ppg).
Among the bigger storylines of the week will be the relationship between Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Rams coach Sean McVay. LaFleur served as the offensive coordinator under McVay in 2017. The two were also together for several years in Washington.
Perhaps the biggest question for the Rams is the health of several key players. Quarterback Jared Goff had surgery on a broken thumb after Week 16 and wasn’t expected to play against Seattle. But his replacement, John Wolford, was knocked out of the game early and Goff was forced into action. He completed just 47.4% of his passes and threw for only 155 yards.
One of Goff’s main targets, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left the Seahawks game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. The NFL Network reported that the injury wasn’t considered serious.
And then there is Aaron Donald. The defensive tackle is in the running for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, but left Saturday’s game with a rib injury and did not return. The NFL Network reported that an X-ray didn’t show any broken ribs but there was an MRI planned for Sunday. The Rams said they are hopeful he’ll be able to play.
#Rams hopeful Aaron Donald will be able to go next week. Sean McVay says “never bet against AD.”
Addendum: I forgot to mention MRI coming today but no break detected yesterday. Good sign. https://t.co/d5nJ1lNpLX
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 10, 2021
If Donald does play, his battles with All-Pro center Corey Linsley and the rest of the Packers offensive line will go a long way to determining the outcome. The same could be said for a potential one-on-one battle featuring All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams going up against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
This will be the second playoff matchup between the teams, though the other came in 2001 when the Rams were still in St. Louis. In that one, quarterback Brett Favre threw six interceptions and three were returned for touchdowns as Green Bay got blown out 45-17.
The most recent meeting of the two teams came in 2018 in Los Angeles. The Rams got a late field goal from Greg Zuerlein and stayed unbeaten with a 29-27 win.