Packers-Rams: Six Things To Look For
Scribe Written on September 24, 2009
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) The St. Louis Rams host the Green Bay Packers Sunday in their home opener. The Rams are winless through two weeks, losing 28-0 to Seattle, and 9-7 to Washington. The Packers are 1-1 following a 21-15 win over Chicago, and a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati.
There may be more Packers fans at the Edward Jones Dome than Rams fans with thousands of Packers faithful traveling to see their team.
Couple that with disappointed Rams season ticket holders selling their seats, and the dome once again becomes "Lambeau South." That's how it was referred to two years ago when Green Bay came to town and left with a lopsided victory.
If the Rams expect to stay close and have a chance to win at the end, they must do these three things:
Establish Steven Jackson early: The Rams finally got Jackson going last week in the loss to the Redskins. Jackson had 17 carries for 104 yards, and an additional four receptions for another 15 yards. He needs more touches this week, probably 20 by halftime, to soften the Packers secondary and open it up for Marc Bulger.
Hold onto the ball, Donnie Avery: Avery was the victim of a couple key drops last week, and is not looking like an NFL No. 1 receiver, as the Rams hoped he would be. The first receiver taken in the 2008 draft also had a fumble inside the Washington red zone that cost his team some points.
If Avery has better ball control against Washington, the Rams win. They need him to secure the ball Sunday against the Packers.
Cover the tight ends: The Packers have two very good tight ends in Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley. St. Louis has had trouble covering tight ends through the first two weeks of the season. Seattle's John Carlson caught six balls for 95 yards and two scores in week one, while Chris Cooley had six catches for 83 yards last week.
If the Rams safeties and linebackers can take Lee and Finley away from Aaron Rodgers, things should be easier on the St. Louis defense.
Those are the three things the Rams must do.
They must avoid the following three things:
Giving Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket: Rodgers has a strong, accurate arm, and will pick apart most secondaries when given enough time. The Packers have allowed an NFL-high 10 sacks through two games, and starting tackle Chad Clifton is out with an ankle injury. The Rams got their first, and only, sack of the year last week.
They must take advantage of a weak Packers line and force Rodgers to throw under duress.
Picking up dumb penalties: In week one, it was four personal fouls, including two from Richie Incognito. The Rams were also penalized for having 12 men on the field, which negated a touchdown on a returned blocked field goal. Last week, there was a needless holding penalty on Avery on a long Jackson run.
The Packers have picked up a lot of penalties through the first two weeks. This game might come down to whichever team commits the fewest penalties wins.
Turnovers: The Packers have six interceptions in two games this year. Last season they lead the NFL in defensive touchdowns. Last week Charles Woodson, who had two picks off Carson Palmer, returned an interception 37 yards for a score to give Green Bay a 21-14 second-quarter lead.
Bulger is completing just 50 percent of his passes (32 of 64), but he has yet to turn the ball over. Against a ball-hawking, aggressive defense like Green Bay's, he has to get rid of the ball quickly, and not force anything. If he can't do that, the Packers could turn this one into a laugher quickly.