The NFC remains wide open with five teams having two or three losses. Two of them will meet Sunday afternoon when the Green Bay Packers host the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field.
Although the Rams are coming off a bye, these two teams are a combined 1-4 this month. A win against another NFC heavyweight would not only make a statement but also help turn around their season as they pursue the conference's lone bye.
The Rams' bye could hardly have come at a better time, as they are reeling from losses against the Titans and 49ers by a combined score of 59-26. Concerningly, they put up their two lowest offensive outputs by both yardage (347, 278) and points (16, 10).
Green Bay, on the other hand, narrowly fell to the Chiefs when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with a positive COVID-19 test and won when he returned against the Seahawks with a dominant defensive performance. However, that same unit couldn't stop the Vikings last week in a disappointing 34-31 overtime loss.
These teams are even with a 47-47-2 all-time record against each other, but the Packers have won six of their last seven games against the Rams, including a 32-18 home playoff win in the Divisional Round in January. Can Los Angeles avenge their recent losses with an extra week to prepare?
Los Angeles (7-3) at Green Bay (8-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 28 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Packers -1
Three Things to Watch
1. Packers' O-line vs. Rams' pass rush
Green Bay's injury report has been lengthy this season, and plenty of stars from Rodgers to running back Aaron Jones (sprained MCL) have missed time. But perhaps no position has been more beat up than the Packers' offensive line.
All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari has been out three games with a knee injury, and Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins was able to slide over to fill in for him. But Jenkins just suffered a torn ACL in the loss to the Vikings, prematurely ending his season.
Starting center Josh Myers is also out with a knee injury, but at least the right side of the Packers' line is still healthy. And they have quite the matchup against the Rams' intimidating front four.
The Rams are tied for the league lead in sacks — although their adjusted sack rate (6.6 percent) is more middle-of-the-pack — with incredible star power. Aaron Donald commands double-teams in the middle, and linebacker Leonard Floyd is tied for 12th in the NFL with 7.5 sacks. Von Miller only had three tackles, including one for a loss, in his Rams debut, but should be getting up to speed.
Los Angeles is aggressive with the seventh-highest blitz rate (28.8 percent) and could make trouble for the Packers if their makeshift offensive line can't give Rodgers time to get through his progressions. There's also the question of Rodgers' mobility in the pocket after he revealed that he had a fractured pinkie toe on Wednesday.
2. Can Jalen Ramsey shut down Davante Adams?
Perhaps the better question here is how much Ramsey will be matched up on Adams. When these teams faced off in the playoffs last season, Ramsey said he only faced off against Adams man-to-man five times.
Especially when former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was with the Rams, the team wasn't known for shadowing one cornerback on one wide receiver. Ramsey may have started plays lined up on Adams, but Packers head coach Matt LaFleur uses lots of motion to read the defense and get better matchups. In the most recent playoff meeting, when Ramsey did follow Adams on the goal line, the Packers were able to scheme their way to an easy 1-yard touchdown.
If the Rams are able to get Ramsey — still perhaps the best cornerback in the league — on Adams more in this game, that would force Rodgers to turn to other targets.
The Packers really lean on their top two pass catchers. Adams has 106 of the team's 349 targets, and Jones, who remains unlikely to play, sits second at 47. The eminently enigmatic Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a breakout game with 123 yards last week, but he hasn't topped three catches or 60 yards in any other game this season. Even Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard have only topped three receptions in a game once, and that was five catches apiece.
3. Does Odell Beckham Jr. take a step forward?
When the Rams added Beckham following his release from the Browns, he looked like a luxury as a WR3. But with Robert Woods tearing his ACL two days later, he's going to have to become a solid WR2 for this team to fulfill its Super Bowl promise.
Beckham was quiet in his LA debut in the loss to the 49ers, as he played just 15 of the team's 55 snaps. He did catch two of his three targets, albeit for only 18 yards. The hope is that, with the bye week, he'll have more time to learn head coach Sean McVay's playbook and become more than a famous decoy.
Green Bay's top corner Jaire Alexander remains out with a shoulder injury, so there is a bit of weakness in the secondary. However, if Beckham is not fully productive, the pickings get a little slim in LA.
With DeSean Jackson released and rookie Tutu Atwell injured, there aren't many deep threats. Van Jefferson may be more useful in the slot to take over Woods' role next to Cooper Kupp. The pressure is on for Beckham to contribute in this big matchup.
We're getting to the time of the year that Lambeau Field's home-field advantage grows even larger with the weather, but that can only overcome so much. The Packers are really hurting at several key positions, and it's going to cause some really poor matchups. Rodgers can still light up the scoreboard, but as we saw last week against the Vikings, there's only so much he can do by himself.