St. Louis Rams (0-4) at Green Bay Packers (5-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, noon (Central).
SURFACE: Natural grass.
TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jaime Maggio.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Rams are allowing 179.8 yards per game on the ground, have placed seven cornerbacks on injured reserve and the Packers come in having scored a league-high 173 points. St. Louis' best shot is to stiffen that run defense and then pressure QB Aaron Rodgers into mistakes with LT Marshall Newhouse replacing Chad Clifton and RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) also uncertain. Green Bay has its own questions in the secondary, but has been stopping the run (3.8 yards per carry). If St. Louis can't control the clock behind RB Steven Jackson, Packers backup QB Matt Flynn could make an early appearance.
FAST FACTS: The Rams' 27:18 average in time of possession is the third-lowest in the league. ... The Packers are 5-0 for the first time since 1965 and their 11-game winning streak is one shy of the franchise record set from 1961-62.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 — Consecutive games in which the Packers have no trailed in the fourth quarter. 12 — Longest winning streak in Packers history, which was achieved in a span covering the 1961 and 1962 seasons. Green Bay has won 11 straight games, going back to last season. ... 27:18 — Average time of possession for the Rams over the first four games of the season. That's the third-lowest in the NFL.
STATISTICAL RANKINGS: Packers offense — Fourth in scoring, 34.6 ppg (fourth in yardage, 428.6; 22nd in rushing, 99.0; fourth in passing, 329.6). Packers defense — 14th in scoring, 22.2 ppg (21st in yardage, 375.6; third in rushing, 75.8; 30th in passing, 299.8). Rams offense — 32nd in scoring, 11.5 ppg (31st in yardage, 279.5; 25th in rushing, 92.5; 28th in passing, 187.0). Rams defense — 31st in scoring, 28.2 ppg (27th in yardage, 404.5; 32nd in rushing, 179.8; 13th in passing, 224.8).
GAME PLAN: Matt Flynn hasn't had any meaningful playing time since he made his one and only NFL start in place of a concussed Aaron Rodgers and nearly led the Packers to what would have been a stunning road win against the New England Patriots last December with a three-touchdown performance.
An extended cameo could be in the offing for Flynn on Sunday. The unbeaten Packers are favored by 15 points at home against the winless Rams. Even with St. Louis having the benefit of the bye week to get a few of its myriad injured guys healthy and ample time to devise a strategy to try to counter the Packers' arsenal of playmakers, a lopsided outcome seems about right.
Mike McCarthy hasn't been taking mercy on inferior opponents with his play calling, so figure Rodgers to get warmed up in a hurry throwing the football against a depleted secondary. The Rams are brutal against the run, allowing a league-worst average of nearly 180 yards per game, and perhaps the tandem of Ryan Grant and James Starks will get an overdue chance to run at will even before the score is out of hand. St. Louis also ranks last in running the football but should have workhorse Steven Jackson back to almost full strength after he was hampered by a quadriceps injury at the outset of the season.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will be able to key on stopping the run and put struggling second-year quarterback Sam Bradford (49.7 completion percentage) in unfavorable down-and-distance situations with a nondescript receiving group.
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