Potential playoff X-factors for Packers against Rams
The Green Bay Packers have the chance to advance to the NFC Championship Game if they beat the Los Angeles Rams in the division round at Lambeau Field on Saturday.
The game has tons of star power, including six first-team all-pros, the alleged MVP and a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. But other players will also have a big say on Saturday in Green Bay.
Here are some possible playoff X-factors for the Packers versus the Rams:
CB Chandon Sullivan
(AP Photo / Jim Mone)
The Packers Slot Cornerback will do a great job against the Rams who love to throw the ball at Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in the slot. The two recipients a total of 102 catches and five touchdowns while operating from the slot in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. Sullivan, who took over for Tramon Williams, was up and down at times in his first season as a full-time starter. It is possible that the Rams will create much of their offensive game plan in passing to get Woods and Kupp the ball out of the slot. Sullivan must be up to the task. Both receivers are tacticians who know how to operate in space and use leverage to create a separation inside.
DL Kenny Clark
AP Photo / Sam Craft
No. 97 looks prepared for a breakout performance. Clark was finally healthy in the second half of 2020, producing 23 prints but only two sacks in the last seven games. He was quiet very good, both as a rusher and against the escape. The arrival of snacks Harrison relieves the strain on his shoulder as a real nasal device on run downs, potentially allowing Clark to attack more and do less block eating. The pair will be crucial in slowing down Rookie Cam Akers and the Rams' improved run attack. Don't be surprised if Clark gets the most out of Rams Center Austin Blythe, which gave up four sacks and 29 total pressures (the third highest among the centers) in 2020. This could be the moment for Clark to be a dominant, groundbreaking man player, both on tape and in the box score.
RB Aaron Jones
AP Photo / Mike Roemer
A couple of things the packers can probably expect from the Rams when they play football on Saturday: Lots of two deep safeguards and lots of light boxes. The Rams want to protect themselves from vertical passing and keep as many pass stoppers on the field as possible, much like Mike Pettine and the Packers. The obvious counter here is an effective and efficient running game. At times this season the Rams have looked vulnerable to the wide zone run game that Matt LaFleur has built his entire offensive around. This is an opportunity for Aaron Jones, the perfect back for that system, to be a catalyst. The Packers will want to avoid Aaron Donald in the middle while forcing edge rushers to hold back and secondary players to attack. The Rams don't have an elite in linebackers. The running game has to be good or the Rams will get really comfortable doing what they are good at.
TEs Jace Sternberger / Dominique Dafney
AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh
The tight end pair have only caught 14 passes all season so this could be a stretch. Just don't be surprised if the Packers use Sternberger or Dafney in the fast passing game or even the vertical passing game on Saturday. Matt LaFleur loves to use the narrow "F" end, a position that has built-in situational variance. When the Rams want to play easy, the Packers trust the tight end "F" to block a defensive back or linebacker. If the Rams get tough, both Sternberger and Dafney can win the field in the passing game. The boat action game is another staple of what the packers are doing, and both tight ends could go into the plan.
RT Rick Wagner
AP Photo / Sam Craft
If Wagner starts the right attack, as expected, his job is to be the primary pass protection against Leonard Floyd, the Rams' best edge breaker. Long, lithe and athletic, Floyd had his first double-digit sacking season of his career in 2020. The Packers will need Wagner to do his chores without much help so the Passport Protection Group can focus on keeping Aaron Donald inside. Wagner was great for much of 2020, but Floyd is a slippery rusher who could give him one-on-one problems. If the Packers can handle Floyd outside and Donald works mostly double inside, quarterback Aaron Rodgers could throw out mostly clean pockets on Saturday - and no quarterback was better out of a clean pocket in 2020.
WR / PR Tavon Austin
AP Photo / Rick Osentoski
The former Ram gets his chance to play revenge. As the lead actor, can he spark a spark on jet moves and special teams that return punts? Several teams, including the 49ers, have used Jet Motion effectively against the Rams this season. Austin has the speed to keep the Rams honest from snapping into place and the vanity in the open field to make a big hunk when staying in space. Matt LaFleur made him part of the script plan to open games multiple times over the past month. And can Shawn Mennenga's special teams really give a game-changing moment? The Rams have been one of the worst when it comes to covering punts this season. Austin fumbled one away last week, but he might get a chance or two of returning a punt in a big place on Saturday. Even a short field might be required against the Rams' number 1.
In this article
Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
'Market Is All Over the Map:' Where Jim Cramer Is Focused in Stock Market Tuesday
'One Day More' of President Trump - Les Misérables parody
Here are Wall Street’s favorite oil stocks for a 2021 recovery
EU seeks to cut reliance on U.S. dollar, other financial centres
Bears QB grades: Neither Mitchell Trubisky nor Nick Foles was the answer
Amazon Shoppers Say This $5 Oil Spikes Hair Growth With Just a Few Drops