In what has already been an absolutely bonkers Week 15 of the 2022 NFL season, we've still got one more game to play. Can the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams live up to what the rest of the league did over the weekend? We can only hope.
The Rams are coming off an outrageous comeback win in Baker Mayfield's first game with the team, and this week he makes his first start for them. The Packers, meanwhile, are coming off their bye and should be in relatively good health. They're still on the outside of the playoff picture at the moment, and they need to continue winning to remain in the mix. If they can't do that, it might be time for us to see Jordan Love under center, while Aaron Rodgers takes a rest.
So, will the Packers keep their playoff hopes alive, or will the Rams pull off another upset? We'll find out soon enough. Before we break down the matchup, here's a look at how you can watch the game.
How to watch
Date: Monday, Dec. 19 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Packers -7, O/U 39.5 (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)
When the Rams have the ball
L.A. staged a ridiculous comeback victory against the Raiders last week. The Rams did essentially nothing offensively for the significant majority of the game, then gained 173 yards on 25 plays on their final two drives, with each ending in touchdowns.
On those two possessions, Baker Mayfield completed 10 of 12 passes for 61 yards, and 6 of 8 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. All told, that's 16 of 20 for 141 yards and a score. (And an interception that was taken off the board by a penalty, for what it's worth.) Prior to that, he was just 6 of 15 for 89 yards. Of course, he was playing that game mere days after arriving in Los Angeles. He should know the offense better now than he did then.
But Mayfield has almost always been a player who needs the circumstances around him (offensive line, pass-catchers, play-caller) to be nearly perfect in order to find success. That is not the situation in which he finds himself now. The Rams offensive line has been awful all year. Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson remain out. Sean McVay can't do everything for him.
The best way too attack the Packers this year has been on the ground (they rank dead last in Football Outsiders' rush defense DVOA), and you don't have to beg McVay to run the ball with Cam Akers. He wants to do that anyway. If the Rams can find success with Akers attacking the edges of Green Bay's defense, though, that will set up the associated play-action game, where the Packers have also been somewhat vulnerable this year.
But that depends on the L.A. defense keeping the Green Bay offense at bay. Can that be done? Well...
When the Packers have the ball
Aaron Donald remains out. So do A'Shawn Robinson and Jordan Fuller. David Long, Travin Howard, and Marquise Copeland will miss this game as well.
The Rams have been far better against the run (fifth in DVOA) than the pass (23rd) so far this season, but obviously, not having Donald or Robinson changes things a bit on that score. Green Bay has been significantly more effective when it has been able to ride Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in the run game than when things have had to revolve around Aaron Rodgers and the young pass-catcher corps, though Rodgers and Christian Watson have gotten into more of a rhythm of late. Still, the Packers would prefer that Jones and Dillon lead the way here, and there's a better chance of that happening than it might appear at first glance, due to L.A.'s injuries on defense.
Of concern in the passing game is that Jalen Ramsey is having by far his worst NFL season, but also that the Rams are 31st in DVOA against deep passes. When this Packers team throws the ball, it is often via either the quick game (like smoke screens and RPOs) or when Rodgers is seeking out big plays deep down the field. Watson has seemingly hit on a deep shot every game in recent weeks, and there is nobody on almost any defense who is fast enough to keep up with him once he hits the jets. The Rams have been most vulnerable to deep passes to the perimeter, not over the middle of the field, and that's where Watson has done most of his damage.
Rodgers will also look for Allen Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan, and Romeo Doubs will return from injury for this game, but his best secondary pass-catcher is Jones out of the backfield. He's the Packers' most explosive playmaker, and though the Rams have been pretty solid against passes to running backs, he has an advantage against almost any non-cornerback an opponent chooses to match up with him.
Prediction: Packers 23, Rams 13