Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs (87) signals for a first down after making a reception against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
What’s been the biggest issue for the Packers during this slow start to the year?
Excruciatingly slow starts on offense and failed opportunities to win games late. The Packers haven’t scored a first-half touchdown at home and have just nine points in the first halves of the last five games. Nina! They’ve trailed 17-0, 27-3, 10-3, 9-0 and 10-3 at halftime of the last five games. Tough to win that way. Then again, the Packers held fourth-quarter leads in three of their five losses and had many chances to get back into the game last week against the Vikings. The passing game has to execute better early in games and find the clutch plays late, and the defense — which has underperformed overall — needs to be more consistent.
Obviously, Jordan Love is struggling. Is the jury still out on whether he’s the franchise QB?
The jury is still out. It’s been seven games, and everything around Love on offense has been chaos. The offensive line can’t run block. They lost David Bakhtiari at left tackle. Aaron Jones has been out or limited all season. The young receivers and tight ends are making a lot of mental and physical mistakes. Has Love Been Good Enough? Well He’s been inaccurate, a little panicky with his decision-making and mostly unable to hit on big plays down the field. The quarterback must play better, but everything around him needs to settle so the Packers can get an accurate evaluation. The worst-case scenario for this season is that chaos reigns on offense and the Packers don’t really know if Love can play.
Who’s an underrated Packers player Rams fans should know about?
It’s not a sexy pick, but right tackle Zach Tom — a 2022 fourth-round pick — has been terrific in his second season. He was a plus pass-blocker as a rookie but he’s really come into his own as an all-around blocker in Year 2. Tom will make it tough to pressure Jordan Love off the offense’s right side and it won’t be surprising if a few of the Packers’ best runs on Sunday go to Tom’s side. Another player to watch: 2022 first-rounder Devonte Wyatt. He has 22 pressures on just 121 pass-rushing snaps this season. The Rams might like running at Wyatt, but blocking him in the pass game will be tough.
What’s one weakness the Rams can exploit in Green Bay’s defense?
The run defense is the obvious answer. Although the Packers held the Vikings to 2.0 yards per rush last week, good running teams have beaten up on Joe Barry’s front this season. If the Rams have a backup quarterback on the field, the run game will have to be good. Another thing to watch is the secondary. The Packers traded away cornerback Rasul Douglas, safety Darnell Savage is on injured reserve, cornerback Jaire Alexander is dealing with a back injury and coming off a disappointing performance, safety Rudy Ford has a new calf injury and nickel Keisean Nixon has been up and down. Covering all the Rams weapons at receiver could be a challenge.
Who wins on Sunday and why?
Neither team inspires confidence. The Packers haven’t won since Sept. 24. It’s now Nov. 3. But if the Packers can’t beat a 3-5 team playing either an injured quarterback or a backup quarterback, it’s tough to imagine when this losing streak will end. I’m very interested to see how Matt LaFleur’s team responds to losing Rasul Douglas, a leader and respected veteran. This is also a decent matchup for the Packers struggling offense. Vegas likes the Packers by 3 so we’ll go with that. Packers 20, Rams 17