The St. Louis Rams will prepare for the grind of playing in the NFC West with an early preseason test against the NFC North's Green Bay Packers at Edward Jones Dome on Saturday. Both teams have playoff aspirations and have to navigate difficult divisions in order to get there.
Last season, the Pack finished with a disappointing 8-7-1 record, which preceded an early exit in the Wild Card round of the playoffs at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. This time around, a division title and deep run in the playoffs is well within reach.
The Rams will have a tall order just to make the playoffs after finishing 2013 at 7-9. They have the misfortune of playing in the same division as three perennial playoff contenders in the NFL's deepest division: the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.
More on the matchup: The wide receivers of both squads have some intrigue for far different reasons. The Rams need someone among the group to step up and be a go-to target for Sam Bradford as he works his way back from season-ending ACL surgery last October.
St. Louis ranked 27th in passing yards, and tight end Jared Cook led the team in receiving yards with 671. This time around, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin and newcomer Kenny Britt are the three who need to help Bradford spread the ball around and open up the passing game more. In particular, Austin may be on the clock after being selected in the first round in 2013, as Rams legend Torry Holt pointed out on Tuesday.
The Packers, meanwhile, boast playmakers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson on the outside. In addition, Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams give what head coach Mike McCarthy has labeled as exceptional depth to the corps. Given that it's a preseason game, the Pack should have plenty of opportunities to validate his claim. The Packers' offense will also have to adjust after losing Don Barclay for the season with an ACL injury.
Game Date/Time and Location: Saturday, Aug. 16, 4 p.m. ET, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
TV schedule and distribution map: NFL Network; 506 Sports
Rams blog: Turf Show Times / Follow Turf Show Times on Twitter
Packers blog: Acme Packing Company / Follow Acme Packing Company on Twitter
Radio schedule: Green Bay: WTMJ 620 AM; St. Louis: 101 ESPN
Watch Online: Verizon subscribers can watch games live with the NFL Mobile app (subscription required). NFL Game Pass offers live online broadcasts to users outside the USA.
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