The Packers face what many believe to be an easy challenge: to beat the struggling 0-4 Rams. Sitting at 5-0, the Packers are the biggest favorites of the week, but no game should be taken lightly. The Rams nearly won their division title last year and were one of the most improved teams of 2010. This year, they were expected by many to make the next step and win the weak NFC West.
However, sitting at 0-4, the Rams have struggled, both because of poor play and playing against difficult competition in teams like Philadelphia, Baltimore and the New York Giants. The Rams now have an even more difficult task as they travel to Lambeau and play against the defending Super Bowl champions.
While I believe the Packers will win, here are a few reason that the struggling Rams may prove to be a more difficult competitor than people may think.
Far too often, superior teams are beaten by cupcake teams simply because they do not prepare adequately for them. This happened last year to New England when it was blown out by the Cleveland Browns. While I do believe that Coach Mike McCarthy will do a very good job preparing this team, it is very possible that they will be looking to more difficult weeks ahead, as the Packers face division rival Minnesota twice, as well as tough competition with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In their last game against the Redskins, the Rams defense held Washington to 17 points. Unfortunately, it was the Rams' offense that couldn't capitalize on several turnovers by the Redskins and had difficulty moving the ball with inexplicable drops and stupid penalties.
Although the Rams' defense has struggled somewhat, they know that they have to right this ship, and so far, they are playing better than the offense has been. Also consider the fact that two former Packers, Al Harris and Brady Poppinga, will be returning to Lambeau this week and may be wanting to make a statement to their former team.
The Rams' offense may be struggling, but they have two big offensive weapons that can give the Rams a spark at any time. Quarterback Sam Bradford has played well so far this season but has been the victim of poor play by his offensive line and receiving corps. He can certainly make all the throws, but he is going to need help from his teammates. If he gets that help, the Rams offense could suddenly become dangerous.
Steven Jackson has been battling injuries so far this year, but when he has played, he has shown that he can run just as well as he's ever been able to. Jackson may be the most explosive player on this Rams offense, if he stays healthy and is given room to run.
If Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson do get hot the Rams have a good chance because the Packers' defense has had its struggles this year, particularly against the pass, allowing big plays from the likes of the Broncos and Panthers. While Bradford's receivers certainly need to help him out, they have the talent to put up points, so the Packers' defense has to step up, much like they did last week in the second half against the Falcons.
Any team that is 0-4 is going to be desperate to get a win, and the Rams, who had much promise at the beginning of the season, are going to need a win if they want to stay alive at all in the playoff race. Despite their struggles, the Rams shouldn't be considered a bad team; they have playmakers on both offense and defense that could get hot at any time. They just have to avoid the mistakes they've made in the first four games, as they would likely be at least 2-2 if it weren't for penalties and badly-timed drops.