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Cheese Curds, 12/19: Underwhelming Packers and Rams face uncertain futures

With both teams struggling this season, it’s possible that the two franchises will still be facing major challenges in 2023 and beyond.

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Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the 2022 season has not gone as expected for either the Los Angeles Rams or the Green Bay Packers, who play each other tonight on Monday Night Football. Last season, the Packers won 13 games and the Rams 12 as the two franchises finished the year as the 1st and 4th seeds in the NFC. This season, the teams have combined for just 9 wins, and although there are four weeks left in the season, it’s still more likely than not that both end up under .500 for the year.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But they have done so under far different circumstances.

The Rams have been devastated by injuries to key players for much of the season. Odell Beckham, Jr., who played a prominent role in last year’s Super Bowl run, has missed the whole year after tearing his ACL in that game. Cooper Kupp, the All-Pro receiver, has been out for most of the season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been dealing with injuries all year as well and is now on injured reserve. And perhaps the most important Ram of all, Aaron Donald, has missed time recently as well.

The Packers have had their share of injuries — David Bakhtiari’s in-and-out status, Rashan Gary’s torn ACL, and Aaron Rodgers’ thumb issue being among the most prominent — but much of Green Bay’s struggles have not resulted from absences. Instead, the defense remains a mess and the offense was the same for long stretches of the season until a recent awakening thanks in large part to Christian Watson.

So what does the future hold for these two historic franchises? That’s anyone’s guess. The Packers will have to wait on Aaron Rodgers’ decision on whether or not to return before really deciding on their approach for next season. They also have massive salary cap obligations that they will need to account for, possible resulting in some bonus money being shuffled around.

The Rams, meanwhile, will be without a first-round pick for the seventh straight year. In fact, their most recent round-one draft pick was Jared Goff, whom they selected first overall way back in 2016. That puts a damper on long-term optimism for Rams fans, who otherwise would have been looking at a top-ten pick this season.

Then again, trophies live forever, and the Rams got theirs last season. They’re just paying for it now, and they might be paying for it for a little while to come.

Can the Rams and Packers rebound in 2023? | ESPN
Both franchises have taken dramatic downturns this season, so what’s next? ESPN’s team beat writers take turns answering questions about the teams for next season and beyond.

To run ball vs. Rams, Packers will have to ‘buckle our chinstraps and come off the rock’ |
Good luck getting a more "football guy" cliché than this one from OC Adam Stenavich.

Keisean Nixon and Rudy Ford have brought unexpected excitement to Packers’ season | Packers Wire
Green Bay's pro scouting department continues to do its job well, and finding contributors in both Nixon and Ford this season is yet another example of it.

The Packers’ most logical path to sneak into the NFL playoffs - The Athletic
Green Bay is still alive for the 6th seed in the NFC, if they can pass up the Giants and Commanders and draw even with the Seahawks.

So Much for Bitter Cold for Monday Night’s Packers-Rams Game - Sports Illustrated
Gametime is now supposed to have temperatures in the teens and minimal wind, which should help both offenses be a little more balanced than initially expected.

Major Winter Storm Will Impact Travel Later This Week | NBC 15 Madison
Be careful with your holiday travel plans this weekend if you're going to be in or around Wisconsin, as there's a big storm heading in Thursday and Friday.