The Green Bay Packers finally had the type of performance everybody was expecting from them on a weekly basis, knocking off the previously undefeated Houston Texans. They will look to carry some of that momentum into this week's game against the St. Louis Rams.
Green Bay has yet to find any level of consistency, alternating wins and losses through six weeks. Beating a team like Houston has the potential to get the Packers back on track, though. Aaron Rodgers and Co. still have enough talent to become one of the league's elite teams.
Despite having the same 3-3 record, the outlook for the Rams isn't quite as bright. The team's schedule gets a lot tougher starting this week, and St. Louis isn't on the same level as some of the top-tier teams it will face over the next month.
With the season's halfway point right around the corner, this is a critical game for both teams. Here's a look at all the key information for Sunday's matchup, followed by a preview and prediction.
Where: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
When: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: WTMJ 620 AM (Green Bay) or WXOS 101.1 FM (St. Louis)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Line: Packers -5.5 (Vegas Insider)
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Packers: Cedric Benson (out, foot), Nick Perry (questionable, knee), Greg Jennings (questionable, groin), B.J. Raji (questionable, ankle) and Sam Shields (questionable, leg)
Rams: Danny Amendola (out, shoulder), Mario Haggan (questionable, thigh) and Matt Conrath (questionable, knee)
What's At Stake?
The Packers must win this game if they want to start reestablishing themselves as a serious contender in the NFC. Last week's victory over the Texans was a big step, but if they don't build from it the impact of the win won't be felt.
Even though Green Bay currently stands at .500, there have still been glimpses of the team that lost just one game last season. The next three games leading up to the team's bye are all about finding that form and carrying it from week to week.
The Rams have already remained in the playoff mix longer than most people expected, but they are still a long shot to earn a postseason berth. Upsetting the Packers would start changing that opinion by earning St. Louis more national respect.
Fantasy Player to Watch: Randall Cobb
An injury to Greg Jennings has allowed Cobb to assume a bigger role in the Packers' high-powered offense, and he's taken full advantage of it. Over the last three weeks, he's totaled 18 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown.
The performances have changed Cobb from a high-risk, high-reward fantasy option into a more reliable one. He's played so well recently that he should remain a key part of the offense even when Jennings does return to the lineup.
Cobb also returns kickoffs and punts, giving him a couple extra touches per game to make a big play, like he did in Week 1 with a punt return touchdown. He should be in all fantasy lineups against the Rams this week.
What They're Saying
The Packers would love to get Jennings back in the starting lineup to add another key weapon to the offense. But the star wideout hasn't liked what he's seen from himself and wants to get back to full strength first, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"When you're accustomed to creating a lot of separation or a lot more," Jennings said last week, "it's frustrating when you watch yourself on film and it's like, 'OK, that was OK but it's just not what I'm accustomed to seeing.' That's the frustrating part so that's what we're trying to get back to."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has been happy with the team's major progress on defense, but knows the real tests still lie ahead.
"I'm please [sic] with where we are," coach Jeff Fisher said. "But we have a lot of work to do. We have clearly over the next (few) weekends significant challenges. So ask me that question again after the next three games."
Packers Key Player: Clay Matthews
Apparently the national spotlight is only big enough for one dominant pass-rusher, and Houston's J.J. Watt has been hogging the attention this season. While that has caused Matthews to get overlooked, he's still making life extremely difficult on opposing quarterbacks.
The linebacker has eight sacks though six games, putting him on pace for the best season of an already impressive career. Even with teams game-planning just to slow him down he finds ways to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Matthews should be in line for another big game against a Rams offensive line that's allowing three sacks per game. And when he's getting pressure on the quarterback, the entire Packers defense is more effective.
Rams Key Player: Steven Jackson
While Jackson has been one of the most reliable running backs in the NFL for the better part of a decade, it appears all of those hits have started to take a toll. He doesn't have the same power he did a few years ago and his numbers show it.
The veteran back is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry—the worst mark of his career—and has yet to find the end zone in six games. Even though a better offensive line would help, Jackson has struggled to take advantage of the holes the front five do provide.
With seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson playing well in limited action, it will be interesting to see how the Rams handle the situation moving forward. Jackson has to start playing better to ensure he remains in his usual workhorse role.
Packers 28, Rams 20