5 keys to Packers beating Rams in Week 12

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The star-studded Los Angeles Rams have lost two straight games but are now rested up and healthy coming out of the bye week, creating a tremendous challenge for the tired and beat-up Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Can Matt LaFleur’s team avoid a two-game losing streak and go into the much-needed bye week with a massive victory over Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and the Rams?

Here’s what the Packers need to do to beat the visitors at Lambeau Field on Sunday:

Run against light boxes

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33)

The Rams play as much nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six) personnel as any defense in football. The idea is that a dominant defensive front led by Aaron Donald can stop the run while extra resources are committed to containing the passing game. It’s a schematic strategy that has worked to great effect for the Rams, but it’s also one the Packers took advantage of during the playoffs in January. With an offensive line missing three preferred starters, repeating the task against a talented front will be difficult on Sunday. Can the Packers stay committed to running the ball when the Rams play light in the box? And can the rebuilt offensive line be physical enough at the line of scrimmage to open run lanes? Being efficient and consistent in the run game is one way for the Packers to counter what the Rams do well on defense and lighten the load on the five starters along the offensive line.

Force Stafford into mistakes

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown eight interceptions this season, including four in the last two games. According to Pro Football Focus, Stafford had seven “turnover worthy plays” during the two-game losing streak after only having six in the first eight games. With the right amount of pressure applied, this could be a chance for the Packers to bounce back from last week and actually finish a few takeaway opportunities against a quarterback willing to take chances. As always, turnovers are huge to the Packers’ winning formula. Matt LaFleur’s team is 8-0 when forcing at least one takeaway this season. The Rams have turned it over six times in their three losses in 2021, while Stafford, the ex-Lion, has thrown 20 career picks against the Packers.

Limit explosives from WRs

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Kupp is going to catch passes on Sunday. He’s been the most consistently productive receiver in football this season, and the Rams are terrific at finding creative ways of getting him the football. However, the Packers must do a better job this week of limiting the damage in the secondary. Last week, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen killed the Packers on intermediate to deep routes. Kevin King isn’t expected to play, so it’ll fall on Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas and Chandon Sullivan to keep Kupp and the Rams receivers (including Odell Beckham Jr.) from creating explosive plays. Last week, the Packers gave up 10 passing plays of at least 15 yards. That won’t cut it against Stafford, Kupp and the Rams.

Win on third down

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Both defenses are built around forcing the offense to drive the length of the field without explosive plays, so situational football will be important for each side. Keep a close eye on third down. The Packers offense was 8-of-12 converting on third down in the playoff game last season, including seven conversions on scoring drives. The average distance to gain on the eight conversions? Just under three yards. Playing well on third down is so often tied to effectiveness on first and second down. The Packers need to get into favorable or manageable third-down situations and convert on Sunday.

Yards after catch

Mike De Sisti-USA TODAY NETWORK

Don’t be surprised if the Packers stick with the short passing game to help negate some of the potential issues in pass protection, especially if the Rams play two-deep shells in coverage. This is another chance for the Packers to show off some skills after the catch. During the playoff game last season, five different Packers players produced at least 20 yards after the catch, and over half of Aaron Rodgers’ 296 yards were gained after the catch. Also, consider this: Davante Adams’ average depth of target was only 3.8 yards, so the Packers were committed to moving him around and getting him the ball quickly. Pass-catchers will need to be great with the ball in their hands on Sunday.

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