Who: Green Bay Packers (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-2).
TV: Fox (Chris Myers, Trent Green).
Series: 89th meeting. Rams lead, 45-41-2. The teams have alternated victories in the last four games, with Green Bay winning the most recent, 33-14 in St. Louis in 2007.
Keys to the game
The Rams need to find a way to contain the Packers' improved pass rush long enough for QB Marc Bulger to take vertical shots against Green Bay's secondary that will be minus SS Atari Bigby and possibly FS Nick Collins. The primary concern is RT Adam Goldberg starting in place on injured rookie Jason Smith and working against DE Johnny Jolly and OLB Aaron Kampman. The secondary concern is a young receiving crew as St. Louis ranks 31st with just 144.5 passing yards per game. Pass protection is also a key for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who has been sacked a league-high 10 times. But the Rams have just one sack on the season and don't have the secondary depth to contain WRs Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
Jennings averages 32 yards on his 25 career touchdowns. ... The Rams have a 12-game losing streak. ... The Packers are 3-0 in road openers since Mike McCarthy became coach in 2006. That is the longest active streak in the NFC and second-longest in the NFL behind the Indianapolis Colts' five. ... The Packers rank 28th in offense (23rd rushing, 25th passing) and 19th in defense (18th rushing, 15th passing). St. Louis ranks 31st in offense (20th rushing, 31st passing) and 29th in defense (25th rushing, 25th passing).
Packers — Out — Safety Atari Bigby (knee); tackle Chad Clifton (ankle); running back Brandon Jackson (ankle). Questionable — Fullback Korey Hall (concussion/shoulder); linebacker Jeremy Thompson (knee); defensive lineman B.J. Raji (ankle). Probable — Defensive back Jarrett Bush (ankle); safety Nick Collins (chest); kicker Mason Crosby (abdomen); linebacker Aaron Kampman (hand).
Rams — Doubtful — Tackle Jason Smith (knee). Probable — Center Jason Brown (knee).
As long as they can play mistake-free football, which might be asking a lot after a miscue-laden performance last time out in a surprising home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Packers shouldn't have to exert themselves too much to get enough points to ward off a winless St. Louis Rams team that has only seven points to its credit in two games. Yet, Green Bay is catching the Rams in their home opener, indoors and an on artificial surface, which hasn't often been a recipe for success for the Packers. Plus, they will be going up against a new-look exotic defense that thrives on creating pressure and proved to be stingy in keeping the Washington Redskins out of the end zone in four red-zone opportunities last weekend. The Packers desperately need to get their running game on track after two subpar outings. Short of that, Green Bay will be counting on an injury-riddled offensive line to give Aaron Rodgers some time to throw after he's been sacked a league-high 10 times. Since the Rams will be determined to keep top wideouts Greg Jennings and Donald Driver under wraps in the vertical passing game, Rodgers would do well to exploit the soft middle of the St. Louis defense and feed the football to tight ends Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley. The focus for the Green Bay defense is as clear as day — contain the Rams' only legitimate weapon on offense, running back Steven Jackson. The Packers' run defense, however, is a sore spot after the Bengals' Cedric Benson gashed them early and often for 141 yards and an average of 4.9 yards per carry. Jackson hasn't lost his explosiveness, as evidenced by a 58-yard burst in a 104-yard performance against the Redskins. Depending on Nick Collins' availability after suffering a chest injury in the last game, the Packers could have two new safeties in the starting lineup, which could leave them vulnerable in the box to slow Jackson. He ran roughshod over Green Bay for 143 yards in 24 carries, including a 46-yard touchdown, in a lopsided Packers win at Edward Jones Dome in 2007.
Nick Collins on QB Marc Bulger: History, just knowing him, he's a great pocket player. He'll run every once in a while when things break down, but he's going to try to get the ball out of his hand quick. He had some great receivers back in those days with (Isaac) Bruce and Torry (Holt). He's got a bunch of young guys now, so he's going to try to get the ball out of his hand as quick as possible.
Tramon Williams on Rams WRs: They're speedy guys. That's what they do. They stretch the field quite a bit. They've got a guy over there they just signed, Ruvell (Martin). They're all young guys, so they're pretty much trying to come into their own and will be trying to make plays. They're trying to gain the trust of the quarterback and they're trying to figure out who's their No. 1 receiver.
Brandon Chillar on RB Steven Jackson: He's a back that can do it all. He's big and strong and fast. Basically, we've got to go in there and gang tackle and just get him down. He's a big guy, but at the same time, he's got quick feet, too. He's not like a big, slow guy by any means. He's the total package.
Jermichael Finley on S O.J. Atogwe: He's a ballhawk. Every play, he's going to try to get the ball out. He's trying to get a turnover on every play. Every time he's around the ball when I watch him, he was trying to get the ball out. We'll have to watch out for him. He's a great safety.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.