Packers Periscope: Week 5 vs. St. Louis Rams

Up periscope against the Packers week 5 opponents, the St. Louis Rams

The Past

While you might think that the NFC West is a common opponent for the Packers given how many times it seems the Packers have faced the Seahawks and the 49ers in recent history, the last time the Packers played the Rams was in 2012.  In classic Packers form, passing ruled the day with Aaron Rodgers throwing 342 yards and a touchdown while Alex Green lead the team in rushes with 20 attempts for 35 yards, good for an abysmal 1.8 ypc.  On defense, held Steven Jackson to 57 yards (but at 4.8 ypc) while quarterback Sam Bradford was intercepted once and sacked three times.  In the end, the Packers were able to win despite Aaron Rodgers getting harried all day, which sounds similar to last week’s game against the 49ers.  

 

The Present

Overall Team Efficiency

Packers

Rams

42.5%

6.7%

Offense

Overall

31.1%

-6.7%

Run

5.6%

-20.5%

Pass

67.5%

19.9%

Defense

Overall

-9.0%

-7.6%

Run

7.0%

-14.4%

Pass

-20.5%

-2.3%

Special Teams

2.4%

5.2%

Quarterback (DYAR)

461

111

 

(All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders, click here for a detailed description of DVOA and DYAR.  And as always defensive DVOA is the inverse of offensive DVOA so negative numbers are better.)  

This is the first week that DVOA is truly DVOA since Football Outsiders is finally accounting for opponent strength.  The Packers’ DVOA numbers ironically fall even though they remain 4-0 mostly since 2 of those wins, Chicago in week 1 and San Francisco last week, are against two of the worst teams in the league. 

Even with that being said, this Packers team looks very similar to previous Packers’ teams under the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers era.  The Packers offense is again one of the best and is highlighted by a superior passing game added to an above average running game.  On defense, the Packers have gotten better but are still better at stopping the pass than they are the run (though their run defense has been upgraded due to facing Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Jamal Charles).  While this has been a recipe for success in the regular season, we’ll just have to see how effective it is in the playoffs. 

Overall the biggest matchup will likely be the Packers running game versus the stout Rams defensive front 4.  While Eddie Lacy will likely face trouble getting yardage against 5 1st round draft picks, Aaron Rodgers should have no such issue.  The Rams fare only slightly above average against the pass while the Packers passing offense is anything but average. 

 

The Future

The Rams might be the example of how to build a roster diametrically opposed to the Packers.  While head coach Mike McCarthy is a west coast offense disciple that relies on a quarterback and stopping the pass, head coach Jeff Fisher harkens back to an older age where defense and running the ball were king.  While Fisher has assembled more good teams than bad, historically the modern era has been defined by the west coast quarterback and Fisher has not seen as much success in St. Louis as he had back when the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. 

The one caveat to all this is when a defense-first, run-first team manages to find a quarterback.  The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers both found their way into postseason success by stacking the defense-first philosophy with a modern quarterback.  While with hindsight Russell Wilson and certainly Colin Kaepernick might be worse than we currently think of them, it was the way to get to a Super Bowl over the last couple years.  With that all being said, the question comes, can Nick Foles replicated what Wilson and Kaepernick did early on in their careers?  While Foles certainly doesn’t have the running ability of either, he is a much more refined passer as well. 

Overall the St. Louis Rams are a little bit of an enigma; while they were good enough to beat the Seahawks and Cardinals, they’ve also lost some uninspiring games to the Redskins and a Steelers team that lost Ben Roethlisberger half way through the game.  Will the Packers meet the team who beat the 2014 NFC champion and previous undefeated Cardinals (who topped the DVOA rankings) or the team that lost to perhaps the most dysfunctional team in the league that can’t even decide on its own name?

  

 

 

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Comments (3)

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Tundraboy's picture

October 09, 2015 at 10:15 pm

This is a first, an article with no comments. Anyway, good article. Here's hoping for some purely football related discussion. Need a solid performance from the O line this week and I'm glad the game is at home,although I think the D will set the tone for a win once again.

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porupack's picture

October 09, 2015 at 11:31 pm

"Overall the biggest matchup will likely be the Packers running game versus the stout Rams defensive front 4. While Eddie Lacy will likely face trouble getting yardage against 5 1st round draft picks"

I was intrigued with your comment b/c recent article by Jeff and other suggest that Rams front 4 are effective pass rushers and not so stout against the run. But your stats seem to back you up. Wish someone can explain. Could it be front 4 penetrates, gets the sacks, yet dbacks still yield the yardage overall?

I agree with you that Foles is an under-the-radar, good enough passer to beat packers. They have good corp of WRs.

One other periscope blip; Fisher is known for trickery, no? If he really needs a game, he'll pull one of those special teams tricks. Remember the KR lateral...music city style? Wasn't WR Steadman Bailey a former QB or something, and so...you know, could take lateral and lob it through unsuspecting Dback? Pack better be ready for some funky stuff. I think we'll see something on first series to gain a shock factor, and sure to see something on ST.

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porupack's picture

October 10, 2015 at 12:25 am

I thought the predictions over at TurfShowTimes were interesting:

"It would be fun to pretend that the Rams are capable of playing an entire game as well as they played the fourth quarter vs Arizona, that that was a true snapshot of this team’s offensive potential. If that were the case, then I’d look at Green Bay’s near-league-worst 4.8 yards per carry allowed on defense and feel pretty confident that Fisherball could punch these Packers in the mouth, and set up more of Detective Cignetti’s creative play-action passing." -Taiko

I agree. It would be creative (funky) stuff from fisher off a run game that could be recipe for big plays if packers are not ready for it.

Also this:

"The Packers defense is a good unit but there's holes in the front seven. The Rams should find success running the football. This is great news when it comes to their chances of winning as it's the key component to keeping the Packers offense off the field. The running back screen will also be needed and should probably be leaned on at times throughout the game.

The Packers pass rush is a bit overrated however. The stats are bit inflated as they have faced three of top 4 worst lines in the NFL. However their secondary is underrated and Nick Foles will need to be extra decisive and accurate. They'll feast on mistakes, and again the key to victory is keep Rodgers off the field. That won't happen if your giving him the ball back."
-Misone

I liked their respect for Packer secondary, and I agree, that packers secondary is due for bigtime. They are the group I think alter the balance of the game either way. If they aren't prepared for gimmicks and play action b/c they're all stuck in the box, Fisher will catch them with pants down. But, they could feast soon too.

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