Packers vs. Rams: 4 key matchups to watch in Week 12

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Two NFC contenders will grapple for playoff seeding on Sunday when the Green Bay Packers take on the Los Angeles Rams. These two teams last met in the NFC Divisional Round of last year’s playoffs when the Packers came out on top 32-18. The Rams will look to enact revenge against a worthy foe and also regroup following two consecutive losses.

This highly anticipated matchup has all the appeal of a heavyweight bout. Green Bay has never lost back-to-back games under Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers played well against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, but it wasn’t enough to take down a division rival led by 169 yards and two touchdowns from wide receiver Justin Jefferson. This Packers defense will need to play better against a familiar face in Matthew Stafford, who quarterbacked the Detroit Lions for 12 years before moving onto Los Angeles in the offseason. However, even though he is surrounded by a ton of weapons and one of the best offensive minds in the game, Stafford has struggled of late with four interceptions over the last two games.

The Packers are still the favorites despite missing key players on offense and defense. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is much healthier than they were in last year’s playoffs. This game is loaded with intriguing matchups that should keep your eyes glued to the TV.

Let’s take a look at four of the best heading into Sunday.

Packers WR Davante Adams vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey

What’s not to like? Arguably the best corner in the league will line up against the best wide receiver. Adams had nine catches for 66 yards in last year’s playoff matchup, with a lone touchdown that sent Ramsey into a frenzy as he pleaded with his teammates for help. Green Bay likes to move Adams around, while Ramsey basically never travels with the opposing team’s top pass catcher. Adams said this week that he would love to line up against Ramsey all game but isn’t expecting that to be the case. Even if it’s not every play, these two provide one of the best individual matchups the NFL has to offer.

Packers OL Royce Newman vs. Rams DL Aaron Donald

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Perhaps no Rams player is more ready for this rematch than their best overall player. Donald was nowhere near 100% for last season’s matchup as he played through torn rib cartilage. As a result, Donald had one of his worst games as a pro, finishing with an uncharacteristic one tackle and a single quarterback pressure. However, Donald is healthy now and having another great year with 45 tackles, 6.0 sacks, and nine tackles for loss. Los Angeles prefers to move Donald around on the defensive line but don’t be surprised if they exploit Newman more than others. The Packers guard has been solid for most of the season, but he has also had his fair share of rookie mistakes, especially in pass protection.

Packers CB Chandon Sullivan vs. Rams WR Cooper Kupp

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Over 66 percent of Kupp’s snaps this season have come from the slot. That means Sullivan will be tasked with covering one of the smartest and most technically sound receivers in the game. As Green Bay’s primary nickel corner, Sullivan has not taken the strides they hoped he would after bringing him back on a one-year deal. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 71% of their passes against Sullivan. Another big concern for Sullivan is his struggle to limit yards after the catch. Kupp is one of the best in the business, trailing only San Francisco’s Deebo Samuels in total yards after the catch in 2021. Sullivan has allowed a team-high 190 yards in YAC, which is also the 16th most among corners. The Packers will need to swarm Kupp after he catches a pass.

Packers LT Yosh Nijman vs. Rams edge rusher Terrell Lewis

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Yosh Nijman (73)

With Elgton Jenkins lost for the season with a torn ACL, Nijman will once again have to step in at left tackle until David Bakhtiari can return to the field. Nijman did a bang-up job in his first career start against the 49ers. Nijman did not allow a single pressure despite facing a stud edge rusher in Nick Bosa. In three starts, Nijman allowed five total pressures and a pair of sacks, per PFF. This week, he will need to contain the Rams’ third-leading pass rusher. Lewis has logged 21 pressures this season to go along with a career-high 3.0 sacks. A third-round pick by Los Angles in 2020, Lewis is coming on strong in Year 2. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will also rush from the defense’s right side, and the Rams could throw Leonard Floyd or Von Miller at Nijman in an attempt to create havoc.

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