Sunday, October 11, 2015

NFL Week 5 Packers vs. Rams Preview and Prediction

So, let's get this out of the way first (since I was negligent in writing a follow-up earlier in the week): the Packers beat the 49ers. Let's repeat: the Packers beat the 49ers. In San Francisco. And throttled heretofore Packers-killer QB Colin Kaepernick in the process behind a great defensive effort by the Pack. 'Bout time. Yay.

Now..on to today's game: the Packers vs. (the once-and-future Los Angeles) Rams.

Packers DE Mike Daniels and the rest of the "D" have been playing lights out lately.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Packers come into this game as either 9 or 9-1/2-point favorites depending upon whom you believe for that sort of thing. Either way, Holy Schnikey, Batman, that's a big spread. Yes, the Packers are at home. And are 4-0. And have the best quarterback in the NFL. Even have the third best rushing game in the league (true!) and a vastly-improved defense from the last few years. What do the Rams have to offer? Well, to hear the pundits tell it, probably the best front four defensive linemen in the league. A young and dangerous running back. A speedy receiver. A head coach who will have his team well prepared. And a not-all-that-bad QB in Nick Foles...who, by the way, has beaten the Lambeau...when he was with the Eagles.

But that was then, this is now.

The Rams seem to be a Jeckyll-and-Hyde type team so far this season, winning two big games within their division -- at home against Seattle and at Arizona last weekend against the previously undefeated Cardinals -- but who don't seem to do as well against teams outside their division. So they're a bit like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get.

But whatever team shows up for the Rams, we know what team will show up for the Packers: very good special teams, an attacking defense (tied with the Rams for the league lead in sacks at 17) and a powerful offense when running on all cylinders. Whether or not the Packers have starting RT Bryan Bulaga back on the line today will be a gametime decision apparently. He did practice this week and said he felt he'd be ready to go. If not, Don Barclay will once again have to hold his own. The tackle positions -- left and right -- have been an issue so far this young season for the Packers. But Aaron Rodgers' mobility is the difference maker if there is pressure. He may be sacked a few times given his tendency to sometimes hold on to the ball a bit too long. But, conversely, his ability to scramble and find receivers downfield, or to break off a run himself, is something which defenses have a hard time defending we've seen through the first four games.

One of the knocks on the Packers' offense right now is that, without Jordy Nelson, the Packers lack a downfield threat to stretch the defenses. Well, the short and intermediate type passes seem to be working quite well. One has to believe, too, that sooner or later one of the young, fast receivers -- Jeff Janis or Jared Abbrederis, perhaps -- will gain Rodgers' trust and start to emerge as at least an occasional threat. That may or may not happen today. But, regardless, the Packers will have all they need to dispatch the Rams despite being without WR Davante Adams and S Morgan Burnett for today's game.

The Prediction
Here it is, gang, the moment you've all been waiting for: our prediction.

While we thought the Packers would easily handle the 49ers last week, things were much closer than expected as the offense just wasn't as in sync as usual. That will have gotten corrected this week. We don't say this will be a blow out. But we do see the Pack winning comfortably.

We're calling it...31-17 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Other notes from this last week

Former Packers head coach -- and Coach of the Year in 1989 -- Lindy Infante passed away this last week at age 75 in Florida. Infante coached the Packers from 1988-1991. He was an offensive genius and universally regarded as one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. RIP, Coach. Read more here.

Safety and special teams standout Sean Richardson was reported to have sustained a second neck injury -- a herniated disk -- which is likely not only season-ending but career-ending. You can read more here about that. We wish the young man well whatever transpires for him going forward. We admired his play.