Series: The Rams lead the series 45-44-2 and have outscored the Packers by just 25 points over the course of the 91 regular-season games. The first meeting came in 1937 when the Rams were based in Cleveland. The Packers have won the last four in the series, with the Rams’ last win coming at Lambeau Field in 2006.
Last time: On Oct. 21, 2012, the Packers won at St. Louis 30-20. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, including strikes of 5 and 39 yards to Randall Cobb. Rodgers was brilliant, going 30-of-37 for 342 yards. They needed his big day, with top running back Alex Green gaining just 35 yards on 20 attempts.
Noteworthy: The Rams, who haven’t even been .500 since 2006, got rid of always-injured quarterback Sam Bradford in a trade with Philadelphia to get Nick Foles, who missed eight games himself last season due to a broken collarbone. Foles had a tremendous 2013 – 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions -- but regressed in 2014 with 13 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions. First-round running back Todd Gurley, whose career at Georgia ended with a torn ACL, should be ready for this game if he’s not given the green light for Week 1. The word “makeshift” doesn’t begin to describe the offensive line, with four starters shown the door. One of those was Scott Wells, the former Green Bay center. Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2014 draft, will take over at left tackle. The defense, however, might be good enough to carry the load after allowing 103 points in the final seven games, with two shutouts and a 22-7 win over the high-powered Broncos. It starts up front with the defensive line, with Chris Long and Robert Quinn as the ends and Michael Brockers and Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald at tackle. Donald, the Rams’ top pick last year, lived up to his billing after being an all-around stud at Pitt. He had nine sacks even while not starting until Week 6. That dominant unit got even stouter with the signing of defensive tackle Nick Fairley and linebacker Akeem Ayers.
Offensive rankings: 21st in points (22.1 per game). 28th in yards (314.7 per game). 23rd in passing (212.5 per game). 20th in rushing (102.2 per game).
Defensive rankings: T-16th in points (22.1 per game). 17th in yards (351.6 per game). 19th in passing (241.3 per game). 14th in rushing (110.3 per game).
2015 Comings and Goings
Hello: QB Nick Foles, DT Nick Fairley, OLB Akeem Ayers.
Draft: Gurley’s final season at Georgia was a dud, derailed early by a suspension and late by a torn ACL. Without the health concerns, he would have been the first back selected. At about 240 pounds, he’s going to be bigger than most of the guys trying to tackle him. He seems the perfect pick for an old-school team built around playing defense and running the ball. Of course, to run the ball, you need blockers, and this is the Rams’ major weakness – which they tried to address by drafting three tackles in the first four rounds. Wisconsin’s Rob Havenstein will take over for Barksdale at right tackle. Louisville’s Jamon Brown will back up Robinson at left tackle. Taken in the second and third round, respectively, most talent evaluators considered them major reaches. Another offensive tackle, Iowa’s Andrew Donnal, went in the fourth. Towering Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion was St. Louis’ other third-rounder choice.
2015 Personnel in Focus
Pro Football Focus, that is. PFF has a color-coded rankings system for each team’s 24 “starters,” with the extra player to account for a key substitution package such as a third cornerback or third wide receiver. Green Bay has four blue/elite starters (Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson and Sitton), six green/high-quality starters (Lang, Lacy, Hayward, Peppers, Daniels and Matthews), four green/good starters (Linsley, Bulaga, Shields and Burnett), six yellow/average starters (Bakhtiari, Quarless, Kuhn, Hyde, Perry and Clinton-Dix) and four orange/below-average starters (Adams, Guion, Raji and Barrington). The Packers don’t have any starters rated poor and they don’t have any rookies projected to be starters.
The Rams have ...
Blue/elite (1): DT Aaron Donald.
Dark green/high quality (1): DE Robert Quinn.
Green/good (1): DE Chris Long.
Yellow/average (15): QB Nick Foles, WR Kenny Britt, WR Tavon Austin, LG Rodger Saffold, C Tim Barnes, TE Jared Cook, WR Steadman Bailey, FB Cory Harkey, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Michael Brockers, OLB Akeem Ayers, MLB James Laurinaitis, S T.J. McDonald, S Rodney McLeod.
Orange/below average (2): LT Greg Robinson, OLB Alec Ogletree.
Red/Poor (0): Zero.
Purple/Rookie (2): QB Todd Gurley, RT Rob Havenstein
RT Rob Havenstein, on going against veteran Rams defensive linemen Chris Long and Will Hayes: “I think the biggest lesson is to stay technical with what you’re doing because if you don’t you’re going to get a lesson real quick as he’s turning the edge and getting by you or doing something to you where it’s blowing the play up or taking an inside move if you overset him or anything like that. You have to be a technician going against those guys because they are such good players.”
Foles on his new team: “As a player, you want to be somewhere and you want to play there the rest of your career. This is where I want to be, but that’s why we have agents. My most important thing right now is just to continue to work with my teammates and continue to be the best player and person I can be, so we’ll see what happens. I want to be here. I love Coach (Jeff) Fisher and the staff and everybody in this building, so I’m very fortunate to be here.”
DE Robert Quinn, on the Rams’ defensive line: "I think we definitely have one of the most talented D-lines in the NFL. We added Nick with what we already had here and I think it's just constantly adding depth so we can constantly keep our rotation going so everyone can stay fresh. There will be no slow down pays for us. Basically, we're a tag team as we say. One guy comes off, the next guys is in and keep the production up."
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.