Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Rams QB Matthew Stafford suffered a UCL injury to his throwing thumb in Week 8 and did not practice to start the week. I am no expert on UCL injuries, so I’ll have to defer to actual doctors here – most Twitter docs (I know) have Stafford as likely out until Week 11.
- The Rams tried to sign John Wolford off the Buccaneers practice squad, who then turned them down and was signed to the active roster in Tampa Bay. That whole situation was practice squad comedic gold. Los Angeles then signed some dude named Dresser Winn because the only other quarterback on the roster, or practice squad, was backup Brett Rypien.
- The Rams did sign RB Darrell Henderson to the active roster after two straight games as a game-day call-up.
- The Packers had just five players limited in practice on Wednesday and nobody listed as ‘DNP,’ but are still struggling with injuries on the defensive side of the ball with Darnell Savage and Eric Stokes on injured reserve.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams rank near the middle of the pack in seconds per play (28.4), but we know them to be a team that would prefer to play slow and methodical. They started the season in the top 10 in pass rate over expectation, but three consecutive strong rush rate over expectation showings against the Cardinals, Steelers, and Cowboys have them near the middle of the pack. Considering the matchup, the state of the team, and the status of quarterback Matthew Stafford, I think it’s likely we will see a third straight game with an emphasis on the ground game against a Packers team that has struggled with opposing rushing attacks under defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Brett Rypien has three starts in his professional career, all of which came as a member of the Broncos. Last season, he had two touchdown passes, four interceptions, and fumbles (one lost) in four appearances, two of which were starts.
At minimum, Kyren Williams will miss another two games, which leaves the backfield in the hands of Darrell Henderson (who was signed to the active roster this week) and Royce Freeman. Myles Gaskin was active in Week 8 for the first time as a member of the Rams but didn’t see any offensive snaps. Freeman has been the better back from an efficiency standpoint, running laps around Henderson-the-Plodder (I’m pretty sure he dressed up as a Viking for Halloween) and took over the backfield opportunities in the second half of the team’s Week 8 loss to the Cowboys. The Rams were down 33-9 at the half, so that could be a case of getting the better pass-catching back on the field due to game environment, but Henderson is a fine pass-blocker in his own right, which made the usage confusing to me. Either way, both backs shared the field at a near-even split after Henderson saw almost 60 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 7. I would expect the Rams to start the game with Henderson in the bruiser role while Freeman handles the change of pace role and obvious passing downs, with the situation fluidly dependent on game environment. The matchup is mostly a net positive on paper (Rams sixth in run DVOA against Packers’ 24th-ranked run DVOA, middling 1.32 net yards before contact, 4.1 yards per attempt for the Packers), which should allow the Rams to continue trying to eat up clock and field position through sustained and methodical drives.
The Rams run primarily from 11-personnel with Puka Nacua, Cooper Kupp, Tutu Atwell, and Tyler Higbee all in near-every-down roles. Atwell and Higbee have combined to see just 20 targets over the previous three games with a single-game high of just seven looks, leaving the bulk of the passing usage for Kupp and Puka, injury attorneys at law. Both players have also been the primary pass-catchers for the Rams against zone coverages, which the Packers run at the sixth-highest rate in the league. Surprisingly enough, Puka holds the highest targets per route run for the Rams against zone coverage this season at 30.0 percent (23.7 percent for Kupp, and a laughable 15.2 percent rate for Tutu). The prevent nature of the Green Bay defense should lend itself well for the Rams to find success moving the ball through short-to-intermediate passing to Puka and Kupp. The quarterback situation means drives will likely have to be strung together instead of many deep shots. On that note, the Packers rank ninth in the league in YAC allowed due to their soft coverages and have forced opponents to a shallow 6.2 aDOT. That said, nothing in this matchup should prevent Puka and Kupp from seeing solid efficiency in this spot.