If there is anything the Green Bay Packers have taught us in the past several years, it is never doubt Aaron Rodgers. As the quarterback for the Packers, Rodgers has made improbable comebacks, won games with little to no time left on the clock and has completed more hail-marys than the pope. Despite this, Rodgers and the Packers are heading into Sunday’s matchup as a nine-point underdog against the Los Angeles Rams. Midway though the season, this contest is gearing up go be a potential coming out party for the Packers, as they are mostly healthy heading into Sunday. On the defensive side of the ball, a promising young cornerback in the form of Jaire Alexander returns to the line-up. Despite his rookie status, Alexander has made contributions to this unit already with 17 tackles on the season, a half-sack and an interception. Combine his emerging talent with Packers signee Bashaud Breeland, who is expected to make his Packers debut this Sunday, and Jared Goff might be in for a headache if he tries airing out the ball too much. Forget a passing attack right now though, as the Rams are certainly more apt to hand the ball off to Todd Gurley, who registered 86 total yards and three touchdowns last week for LA. The Rams can use Gurley out of any formation, so this Green Bay Defense needs to have him keyed up no matter the situation to prevent him having breakout plays on high-importance downs, let alone the whole game.
On the offensive side of things, it must feel like Christmas for Aaron Rodgers. He’s finally playing without a clunky knee brace, and returning to his huddle is longtime receiver Randall Cobb alongside Geronimo Allison, which will give Rodgers his full starting receiving corps back for the first time since Week 4. Also, tight end Jimmy Graham seems to be finally getting acclimated to his new home in Green Bay, posting 100 yards receiving in the previous game against the San Fransisco 49ers. Aside from receivers, expect the Packers to use a lot of running back Aaron Jones. Jones has shown a lot of ability in the Packers running back-by-committe approach to a ground game. Ty Montgomery can create matchup nightmares, Jamaal Williams can bulldoze for short gains and first downs but Jones is seemingly the whole package with great burst speed and elusiveness not seen in Green Bay since Ryan Grant. If the Packers can establish a dominance with Jones early, then the Rams defensive front could be taken by surprise.
It cannot be stressed how important this game is for the Packers, their reputation and team self-esteem. This roster is loaded with talent, but seeing if they can put together a full four quarters of quality football against the Super Bowl favorite Rams is going to be a huge indicator of Green Bay’s success over the rest of the season. Are these Packers all in on another deep playoff run? Or will Aaron Rodgers need to carry the team as far as he can again?
These questions will begin and end against Los Angeles.