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5 Questions With the Enemy: Packers and Rams meet as former heavyweights

The Packers and Rams have both fallen from their perch as NFC contenders.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Green Bay Packers will try again to right the sinking ship that is their 2023 season at Lambeau Field.

This time the Packers face the Los Angeles Rams (3-5) in a noon showdown. The Rams have fallen back to the pack two years after winning Super Bowl LVI and enter the game coming off a blowout loss to the Cowboys.

The big question for Los Angeles this week is who will be at quarterback. Will Matthew Stafford give it a go with an injured thumb or will Green Bay face backup Brett Rypien?

We tackle that question and more with Evan Craig from our sister site Turf Show Times.

1. Royce Freeman has been effective but he’s part of a split attack. Do you think he needs the ball more, especially with an injured or backup quarterback?

I would say the Rams need to distribute carries as they did against the Steelers in Week 7. In that game, Freeman had 12 carries for 66 yards while running mate Darrell Henderson had 18 attempts for 61 yards. Going back to his Denver days, Freeman has always been more effective when he’s not the focal point of an offensive gameplan.

Having a split attack is the best way for LA to combat injuries to their top two running backs. That is why I feel confident in Freeman and Henderson holding down the fort until starter Kyren Williams and RB2 Ronnie Rivers return to the lineup.

2. Brett Rypien might be starting Sunday. How will that impact the Rams attack?

It shouldn’t impact the offensive attack too much with Rypien under center. Matthew Stafford hasn’t been all that effective at quarterback this season after all. There should be an emphasis on incorporating short passes and utilizing the running game. McVay needs to call a friendly style of offense for his backup QB. Balance will be key against the Packers as this is such a winnable game for LA.

There is zero reason to air it out the whole game and become all one-dimensional. Assuming Rypien starts, he needs to take what the defense gives him and not force the ball into coverage like Stafford has been known for through the first eight games.

3. Cooper Kupp is back but had a couple of rough games after a fast start in his return. But Puka Nacua has been huge. Does Green Bay have a prayer of stopping either?

Given the injury to Jaire Alexander and the trade of Rasul Douglas, Green Bay doesn’t have a great chance of stopping either one. It’s basically pick your poison with these two. Both Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are so hard to stop because they’re slippery in coverage and pick up chunks of yardage with the ball in their hands.

Problem is, aside from the Eagles game, either Kupp or Nacua is going to have a great game. Neither one has put up great stat lines in the same game. Kupp is due for a big game against the Packers so if anything, Green Bay’s secondary might have a chance at slowing down Nacua. Plus with question marks at the quarterback position, LA likely won’t be all that effective or overeager in throwing the ball.

I just hope it won’t be a repeat of last season after Stafford went down. Those were ugly times and I’m afraid the dark days will be returning as the Rams failed to invest in a solid backup option for whatever reason during the offseason.

4. Aaron Donald remains to be a force to be reckoned with. What does the Green Bay offensive line need to do to slow him down?

Pray that he comes down with the flu prior to the game?

Joking aside, the best way to slow down Donald is to double team him as much as possible. Make sure the line knows where he’s at on the field at all times and never take their eyes off him. Completely stopping him is an impossible task as Aaron Donald is inevitable. However, it’s possible to neutralize him in certain instances.

LA has a young and developing defensive line. Meaning if Donald can be slowed down, chances are other pass rushers aren’t going to get after Jordan Love as much as they should. It’s been the story for the Rams all season long and I don’t see anything changing this week.

5. The DraftKings Sportsbook has the Rams as slight road underdogs despite having a better record. Why do you think that is and how do you see this game going?

The Rams are likely underdogs based on the quarterback uncertainty. Based on how woefully inept the Packers offense has been this season, it doesn’t matter whether or not LA starts Matthew Stafford or Brett Rypien. Not that the Rams should overlook any opponent but I have zero clue how Green Bay is favored in this game due to what I’ve seen from them the last four weeks.

I see this being a pretty ugly and low-scoring game. If Sean McVay is a smart play caller, he’ll primarily rely on the running game to take the pressure off whoever starts at QB. That’s a big “if” mind you. As long as the Rams do that, they should win this one with ease assuming the Packers don’t magically light up the scoreboard in the first half.