Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 12

Stafford's record vs the Packers, LaFleur's success after Thanksgiving, and more in this week's Six Pack.

The 8-3 Green Bay Packers return home this week to face off against the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams. As the Packers limp towards a Week 13 bye, the Rams are coming off a bye of their own in Week 11. Here are six things to keep in mind going into a game with serious tiebreaker implications for the NFC: 

1. Rectifying the Run Defense

The Packers have yet to allow an opposing running back to hit 100 rushing yards this season. Even in the Week 1 blowout, Saints running back Alvin Kamara only rushed for 83 yards. Bears rookie Khalil Herbert got close with 97 yards and a score on the ground, but it’s still an impressive stat for a Packers defense that’s struggled mightily against the run in previous years. 

Rams running back Darrell Henderson will be Green Bay’s next challenge. While he’s yet to eclipse 100 rushing yards in a single game himself this season, he’s averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry and has five touchdowns under his belt in nine games.

2. LaFleur on Fire After Thanksgiving 

Matt LaFleur has still yet to lose back-to-back games in the regular season during his tenure with the Packers. A loss this past Sunday against Minnesota puts some pressure on that streak with Green Bay hosting a stout Rams team. What’s perhaps even more impressive is this stat pulled by Daire Carragher, that LaFleur’s Packers are 11-0 after Thanksgiving in the regular season. 

Green Bay will finish off the regular season with four of its final six games at home. Per the dope sheet, this is the second straight year the Packers will finish with four-of-six games at home, but only the fourth time it’s happened since 1940. What’s more, the Packers have won the matchup heading into the bye week in five of the last six seasons. Also per the dope sheet, regardless of Sunday’s outcome, Green Bay will head into the bye with a winning record for the eighth straight season (4-0 in 2020, 8-2 in 2019, 3-2-1 in 2018, 4-3 in 2017, 2-1 in 2016, 6-0 in 2015, 5-3 in 2014).

3. The Best Against the West

When the Packers and Rams face off in Week 12 at Lambeau Field, it will be the first time since Week 13 of the 2014 season (8-3 Packers vs. 9-2 Patriots) that Green Bay has played a game at home in Week 12 or later where both teams have three or fewer losses, per the Elias Sports Bureau. The last time that happened, Green Bay won 26-21 and quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 368 yards with two touchdowns. Davante Adams also hauled in six receptions for 121 yards. 

So far, the Packers are 3-0 against the NFC West this season. In Week 3, the Packers traveled to California to take on the 2-0 49ers. Then in Week 8, Green Bay headed to Arizona to battle the undefeated 7-0 Cardinals. Both games ended as one-score victories for the Packers, with the games decided in the final seconds of regulation. The lopsided three-score victory against a 3-5 Seahawks team is probably the outlier here, as things could come down to the wire against Los Angeles on Sunday, too. 

Still, Green Bay’s track record is pretty impressive against the rest of the NFC West, which is tied with the AFC North for the most wins by a division (24 each) 11 weeks into the 2021 season. Coincidentally, the Packers are also playing the AFC North this season. (Green Bay is 2-0 against the AFC North with games against the Ravens and Browns coming after the bye.)

4. No Longer No. 1

The Packers and Rams are two very different football teams compared to the teams that last met at Lambeau in January for the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Just as the Packers have fallen from grace and are no longer the league’s No. 1 offense, the Rams are no longer the league’s top defense, dropping all the way to 15th in points against and allowing an average of 22.7 points per game. For comparison’s sake, Green Bay’s offense is ranked 17th overall in points for and is averaging 22.5 points per game. 

The Rams also have a new defensive coordinator in Raheem Morris, with Brandon Staley leaving to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Worth noting, too, is the departure of Rams assistant head coach and linebackers coach Joe Barry (name sound familiar?). 

In addition to being the league’s 15th ranked defense in points against, the Rams are also 12th in yards allowed, 16th in passing yards allowed, and 11th in rushing yards allowed. LA is giving up an average of 346.9 yards per game, but the team tightens up in the red zone, allowing only a 54.5% success rate good for 11th in the league. 

5. Same Stafford, Different Duds

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been around the league a long time. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2009, Stafford has played the Packers 20 times, with his 21st game happening on Sunday. In his 20 previous games, he holds a 7-13 record, his worst against an NFC North opponent. 

Now with the Rams, Stafford is off to one of his best starts ever, with his team holding a 7-3 record for only the third time in 13-year career. His 67.7% completion percentage and 106.1 quarterback rating through 10 weeks would also be the highest of his career if those numbers held all season. 

In LA, Stafford has found a favorite receiving target in Cooper Kupp. Through 10 games, Kupp has already scored 10 touchdowns, tying his previous career high of 10 scores in 16 games in 2019. He’s also the league leader in yards this season with 1,141 (he’s the only receiver to eclipse 1,000 so far this season) including 17 receptions of 20-plus yards and five receptions of 40 or more yards. The Packers can’t afford to let Stafford and Kupp get comfortable at Lambeau on Sunday. 

6. Are the Rams For Real?

The Rams are an NFL enigma this season. The unit is 7-3 through 10 games but has played only four teams that currently have a winning record. LA’s three drops came against the division rival Cardinals (9-2), the AFC-leading Titans (8-3), and the division rival 49ers (5-5). While they’ve beaten some good teams in the Buccaneers (7-3) and Colts (6-5), they’ve also faced some not-so-tough talent, including a three-week stretch against the Giants (3-7), Lions (0-9-1), and Texans (2-8).

LA hasn’t done well playing from behind this season. And while part of that, of course, is attributed to the fact that the Rams have led in games for much of the season and they simply aren’t trailing often, it’s worth noting that once LA falls behind they’re much more turnover prone. In fact, Stafford has thrown a pick-six in each of his last two games, and both occurred early in the game with the Rams trailing. 

The Rams will head to Lambeau fresh off a bye, but also fresh off a two-game losing streak. They’ll look to snap their streak while Green Bay hopes to avoid the same fate. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

9 points

Comments (20)

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dobber's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:21 am

Running the football is an afterthought for the Rams: 22nd in the league and 24th in TOP for a 7-win team. It's easy enough to say, but if they actually committed to the run, they'd be a more formidable team...it's not like they can't run the ball. Keep their defense off the field, dictate play, win games. This seems to be an ongoing problem for many of these young "innovative" coaches: they don't stick to the run. McVay just can't not use that shiny toy he has in Stafford. Even though Stafford hasn't been sacked a lot, he has been pressured and beat up in the games the Rams have lost. I think that's the key for Sunday.

4 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:57 am

"Even though Stafford hasn't been sacked a lot, he has been pressured and beat up in the games the Rams have lost. I think that's the key for Sunday."

I completely agree dobber. I REALLY hope we see Rashan Gary this Sunday. IF the Packers can have a similar pass pressure rate as they had last Sunday against the Vikings (Over 40%), then I think they win this game. With Gary, he'd go a long ways in making that happen.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 26, 2021 at 08:11 am

Asking a lot of a one armed OLB, no matter how good he is healthy. I am concerned that we may be too thin at the position to attack our opponent as we need to, for the second week running.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:11 am

I agree that pressure on Stafford would help a lot.

I also believe that some serious off tackle running - and a commitment to it - would go a long way in helping the GBP control the ball, clock and score. Dillon can do his part, can Turner and Nijman do theirs? Dafney and Deguara should be available to provide some edge sealing assistance, will Lazard be available for some DB destruction? EQ seems to have come alive, maybe he can even help.

If the edge attack of the Pack is implemented and sees some success, that should open up play action and a big game for Tae and the bruised toe wonder.

I have a bad feeling, but am still hopeful that with a little good planning and some play luck a win might be possible. Here's hoping that Mason Crosby shows up and that Missin Crosby or Mason Crossbar stay home.

4 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:56 am

"will Lazard be available for some DB destruction? EQ seems to have come alive, maybe he can even help."

That's just AWESOME... "Some DB destruction". I sure hope so because the Packers seriously miss his blocking.

Agree on EQ too. He looked FAST last week in Minnesota.

4 points
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Johnblood27's picture

November 26, 2021 at 05:54 pm

I was just trying to capture the spirit of the thing...

Dickie Dunn

1 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 26, 2021 at 07:53 am

IMO losing Robert Woods has been huge for the Rams offense. As great as Cooper Kupp has been this year, he's best as is Stafford when Woods is on the field too. It will be interesting to see if Odell Beckham has any impact in his 2nd game with the Rams. Yes, he had the extra week due to the bye, but they don't practice that week off. Was Beckham in the playbook? My guess, not so much. No matter if he has or hasn't, I hope once that sun starts going down, the temps drop into somewhere in the 20's or low, low, 30's and continue to drop.

THIS defense is a totally different defense than the one the Packers faced last season in the Playoffs. It's not just Barry and Staley who left, they lost 7 OTHER coaches and administrators from the 2020 team not to mention the players who left in FA. The offense may be a little better with Stafford, but the defense ISN'T better with Raheem Morris, at least not yet.

My hope is the Packers found and will KEEP what they did offensively the last 2 1/2 quarters in Minneapolis. A bit more running with AJ Dillon would be nice, but had Savage held that INT at the end I have no doubt it was going to be a game winning TD drive by the Packers. It's now GO time for the Packers if they want the bye week and #1 seed.

#IT IS TIME!

8 points
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mrtundra's picture

November 26, 2021 at 08:25 am

I think that either King or Stokes, or whomever gets the call, could have their hands full covering Kupp. I hope Stokes gets the nod as he needs to prove himself, a bit, after last weeks mediocre performance against the vikings. I think Stokes is up to the challenge and will shut Kupp down, most of the day. I see Kupp moving to King's side of the field on certain plays, so King can have a rebound game, as well. Amos and Savage can help here, as Stafford will throw up some ducks for them to snare, and hopefully, hang onto for INTs, GO PACK, GO!!!

-1 points
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PeteK's picture

November 26, 2021 at 09:24 am

I believe Gary will not play and use this week and the bye to fully recover. Why risk further injuring the shoulder and losing yet another very good player for the season. There should be some interesting choices for the OLB opposite Smith: Galeai, Burks, maybe Keke.

4 points
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Esquetoi's picture

November 26, 2021 at 09:47 am

By this time in the season, rookies should know their assignments and therefore in theory allow for natural football talent to make a play or two. I'm thinking of the rookie Boston College LBer stepping up....he's also akin to the cold, no?

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 26, 2021 at 06:12 pm

Keke is 300 pounds now, he’s more valuable disrupting from the line. Galeai and Burks are 230 ish. They aren’t going to be full time OLBs and Galeai seems to be playing the cover/speed rush role instead of Burks. We are probably likely to see more DL per snap and Hamilton or Nate Orchard, conceivably both if Gary doesn’t go.

3 points
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HawkPacker's picture

November 28, 2021 at 08:38 am

I would agree CW. Plus don't forget that Smith will need to be spelled at times during the game as well. It's not like he will play every defensive snap.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

November 27, 2021 at 08:39 am

ummm... Elbow, not shoulder.

0 points
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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

November 26, 2021 at 09:51 am

I'm NOT going to get into the team's numbers comparison or player tit for tat for this game, nor am I going to continue to beat the "injury drum" although it's real, the chatter about it is depressing and over done in these parts. I really find myself very ambivalent as I look at this game on paper and think of the play match up with the recent play on the field in mind. If you cut my arm you will find I bleed green and gold and with that in mind I'm just hoping the Packers got a full belly on Thanks Giving and some deserved rest this week and come out re-energized and fully charged. Lets all hope the "A Team" Packers to show up and pull out a win for the home crowd at Lambeau.

Hope all of you and your families had a great Thanks Giving.

GPG !

3 points
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Bearmeat's picture

November 26, 2021 at 10:37 am

There isn't much to say about this game except the Packers are beat to hell. 12 hurt but playing. 13, 33, 85, 55, 52, 74, 23, 71, 20 all out or doubtful. I mean, that's most of our top 10 players. There is no reason GB should win this game. They will be talent deficient almost across the board vs LAR.

Yet, for some strange reason, I think they do win it. Call me crazy...

4 points
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Crankbait's picture

November 26, 2021 at 04:48 pm

Hi crazy.

3 points
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TXCHEESE's picture

November 26, 2021 at 11:11 am

The Packers are in their element this Sunday, at Lambeau and freezing temps. As much as they need to control the ball, they are also better than most other teams the throwing and catching in the cold. That, and a big dose of Dillon should be the ticket for a win. In the games I've watched Stafford struggle, pressure up the middle has really affected him, due to his lack of mobility.

As mentioned above, the Rams seem to give little thought to running the football. It will be interesting to see if after the bye, they have a greater commitment to the run coming in to what is a cold weather game for them. Hopefully GB can get up early and force them to abandon it early. As good as Kupp is, he's much more effective on turf than grass and that hopefully will keep his numbers down.

2 points
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Packers0808's picture

November 26, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Another Packer linebacker down due to covid< Garvin most likely out!

-1 points
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porupack's picture

November 27, 2021 at 06:20 am

With Stafford's experience against GB, the key to stopping Stafford is to focus on the pass game, with stunts and unexpected decoys, much like Zimmer threw at the packers. Rodgers was unsettled about whether the blitz was coming on 3rd downs. Barry must be "un-packer-esque" so Stafford gets fooled by certain looks. Packers must win a couple turnovers. This is also a game for some offensive trickery, some up tempo, or no huddle early. A fake field goal, why not, if not this year and time of season. Most likely, this game was a realistic Loss regardless of the injury situation, and considering GB is playing with 30% of the bench, and the game comes just before a bye, what the heck.... pound the ball with running, but also mix in some bold and unconventional on offense. Definitely not go conservative. Packers win.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

November 27, 2021 at 08:43 am

Campbell does not need to spy Stafford. Send him on a lot of A gap blitzes and overwhelm the OL middle with him and Clark, maybe loop keke in with them and just collapse the inside into Staffords lap. That will definitely get him thinking about his health. Let the inexperienced OLB just contain and clean up. That should work.

0 points
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