5 Reasons the Green Bay Packers Can Light Up the St. Louis Rams' Defense
The NFC West has become known for its tough defenses that can go into any stadium and flat-out shut down opposing offenses, no matter who they are.
Facing the Rams defense after slugging it out with the 49ers and Seahawks is like going from eating overcooked steak to a perfect medium rare steak. One's just a bit more preferable.
Playing in a dome with all Green Bay's speedy offensive weapons will provide the situation needed for the Packers offense to excel.
Let's take a look at the five ways the Packers will be able to dominate the Rams' improved defense.
MVP on a Roll
As it goes for any offense, the quarterback plays the most important role and the Packers are no different.
Aaron Rodgers started the season a bit slow—for his standards—but fared much better in recent weeks.
After only throwing three touchdowns, two interceptions and not breaking the seven yards per average pass attempt in his first three games, he recovered to throw 16 touchdowns to two interceptions in his last three games.
He even averaged a season-high 9.14 yards per attempt against the stifling Houston Texans defense, albeit it was missing star linebacker Brian Cushing.
Not only did he beat one of the league's best defenses, Rodgers absolutely pummeled it into submission, throwing for six touchdowns and a 95.8 QBR (quarterback rating).
When Rodgers is on a roll, there is no defense that can possibly cover his offense. After a slow start, it seems he has gotten over the hump even without Greg Jennings healthy and Jermichael Finley dropping every other pass like he's playing hot potato.
The MVP is back, and there is no slowing him down now.
Jermichael Finley Is Healthy
There is no sugarcoating it, Jermichael Finley has been absolutely unwatchable all season.
After his first game in which he caught seven balls and a touchdown, he has struggled mightily with drops and bad route-running. A mere 17 catches in this Packer offense in five games is unacceptable for a player with his talent.
A dizzying blend of speed and power, Finley has taken more to dropping passes and mouthing off about his quarterback rather than producing.
He flashed his potential in several big games the past couple years but has never been consistent. This season, Finley is league to below-average in receptions, yards and catches over 20 yards.
The NFL is trending towards having dominant tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, Aaron Hernandez and Tony Gonzalez.
Finley has the talent of all the tight ends stated and more.
Now that Jennings is out and the wide receiving corps is still young, Finley has a chance to supplant himself as the No. 2 target behind Jordy Nelson.
Finley is only 12 targets behind Nelson so a breakout game is soon to happen. Another week to heal his shoulder doesn't hurt either.
When Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback, the opportunities will be there. It'll be up to Finley to take advantage and here's saying he will.
St. Louis Rams' Offense
The loss of breakout candidate wide receiver Danny Amendola has left the Rams with a barren receiving corps.
Even though he has had a good year as evidenced by this tidbit, he doesn't have the weapons to keep up.
How good is Sam Bradford? Asked if he'd take Stafford, Cutler or Bradford for short and long term, an NFL scout on Tuesday tabbed Bradford.— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) October 17, 2012
Talented yet raw receivers like Chris Givens, Brandon Gibson and Brian Quick have made it hard for Sam Bradford to pass the ball.
Ranked fifth in the NFL with eight interceptions, the Packers will be able to wrest the ball away from the Rams and gain good field position.
It also doesn't bode well for the Rams that they now have Steven Jackson in a timeshare, limiting his effectiveness as what used to be one of the best rushers in the NFL.
With the Rams defense unable to stay with the Packer offense, Bradford will to have to stand in the pocket about 30 times this game and he won't have the receivers to help bail him out.
Improved Wide Receiver Play
The talented Green Bay Packer receiving corps will have its hands full against the Rams' sixth best passing defense that is allowing only 203 passing yards a game.
However, with the recent emergence of Randall Cobb and James Jones and the re-emergence of Jordy Nelson, receivers should have no trouble getting open.
Since accruing two receptions in both Week 2 and Week 3, Randall Cobb has been targeted by Rodgers 22 times total in the latter three games. The Packers have made a concerted effort to get him the ball, be it from the slot or lining up in the backfield.
After playing in 29 percent of the snaps in Week 2, according to FootballOutsiders.com, he played 60 percent in Week 6.
Cobb had 10 receptions for 106 yards last week against the Texans.
James Jones, on the other hand, has gotten fewer targets but has made the most of them. Always inconsistent when playing behind so many wideouts (he's the guy you leave on your fantasy bench and watch go for two touchdowns), Jones has broken out with two touchdown catches in each of the past three games.
As for Nelson, he also got off to a slow start as he was unable to peel away from defenders but ever since the Packers played the other wideouts more, Nelson has excelled.
He has 29 catches in his past three games.
Despite Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan playing well, it won't be enough to guard all the weapons that the Packers own.
Improved Offensive Line Play
Touchdown passes are flashy, but the offensive line is the most important key to a working offense.
After giving up 16 sacks in the first three games, the Green Bay Packers' offensive line improved in giving up less than half of that, holding teams to seven in the latter three.
With Rodgers playing so well, it would not be surprising to see running backs Alex Green and James Starks staying in to protect the passer and chipping off defensive rushers.
According to FootballOutsiders.com, the Packers offensive line has the 24th best pass protection in the league, but that is, believe it or not, an improvement from the beginning of the year.
The Packers will keep improving thanks to their quarterback controlling the line of scrimmage and firing quick passes to keep the defense off balance.