Matt LaFleur’s Packers have struggled at times against Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. Robert Saleh’s Jets also handled the Packers pretty handily earlier this season. But among his strongest coaching connections in the NFL, LaFleur’s teams haven’t really had a problem with Sean McVay and the Rams.
The Packers have faced McVay and the Rams twice in the LaFleur era, and both times they’ve dispatched their western opponents with little issue.
The first of the two meetings came in the Divisional Round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs. The Packers came in as seven-point favorites and left with a 14-point win, pushing the Rams all over the field on both sides of the ball en route to a 32-18 victory. The Packers’ offense put up points on six of their eight non-kneeldown drives, including three touchdown drives of 73 yards or more. Allen Lazard capped the day with a 58-yard strike through the heart of the Rams’ secondary.
On defense, the Packers suffocated the Rams’ attack. Jared Goff was a bit dinged up, but it’s hard to imagine the result would have been much different even if he was healthy considering the pressure the Packers put on him that day. Second-year edge rusher Rashan Gary led the way with what we could call a breakout performance in retrospect, notching 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.
The Packers met the Rams again the next season for what should have been a prime-time heavyweight fight at Lambeau Field. At 8-3, the Packers were two-point home underdogs to the 7-3 Rams. The Rams had made a big splash just a few weeks prior, trading for Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller. Miller had made an inauspicious debut just before the Rams bye, but with a little more time in the Rams system, conventional wisdom suggested he and the rest of the Los Angeles defense were about to make things difficult for the Packers.
The Rams also had the benefit of coming off their bye week, but it was actually the Packers that looked rested and ready for most of the game. The Packers opened the scoring with a touchdown late in the first quarter and never trailed. The Rams did their best to trade punches and had tightened the game to 20-17 just before the half, but the Packers put the game to rest in the third quarter.
Receiving the second half kickoff, the Packers muscled their way down the field on a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured six touches for AJ Dillon, including four straight runs at one point. After a three-and-out by the Rams, the Packers went three-and-out themselves, but recovered a Rams fumble and took over deep in Los Angeles territory, cashing in a field goal on the drive. Then, on the ensuing drive, Rasul Douglas swooped in to intercept a third-down pass and raced 33 yards for a touchdown. A missed two-point conversion didn’t really matter; the Packers’ third-quarter explosion had put them up 36-17, and the rest of the game was largely academic. The Packers cruised to a 36-28 win from there.
This year’s game won’t have quite the stakes — or, just as likely, the quality of play. Each of the last two meetings was a contest between Super Bowl contenders, and that can’t be said of this week’s Packers/Rams showdown. If nothing else, though, Matt LaFleur can say his teams have handled NFL wunderkind Sean McVay whenever they’ve faced off, though that’s probably small comfort considering how the rest of the season has gone.