By HCR Staff | January 15, 2021
The weekend brings a great slate of divisional round playoff matchups – each with their own intriguing coaching matchups.
Let’s get to it.
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS. Rams head coach Sean McVay and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur are best friends, but tomorrow, they’re going to matchup in a great battle of wits. Both are among the very best head coaches in football, and their continued maturation and development is exciting for the NFL.
What The Rams Need To Do To Win. First, McVay can’t get into a shootout because he’s shorthanded already by virtue of quarterback Jared Goff’s thumb injury. So McVay has to manage this game very carefully, and probably milk the clock down more than he would typically like to do. Second, McVay’s defensive coordinator Brendan Staley will have to constantly change the looks they give to LaFleur. The Packers like to start fast, because quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays better when he gets into a groove from the jump – when that doesn’t happen, Rodgers’ frustration level surfaces quickly, and his emotions can get the best of him. One thing we’ll be watching is whether Staley attacks the Packers backup left tackle (Rodgers’ blind side). Will Staley send stunts and blitzes off that side repeatedly with elite athletes Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey? Third, McVay has to take points when he can, i.e., don’t play around with the fourth down attempts. Rams’ offensive point opportunities will be at a premium, and as the road team, they’ll need every single one that’s presented.
What the Packers Need To Do To Win. First, LaFleur has to have his protections ready to help their backup left tackle. Losing starter David Bakhtiari was a massive blow, and LaFleur can’t assume that they won’t miss a beat. Second, LaFleur has to stay patient with the run game because he has to keep a talented Rams defense honest. The Rams are very versatile on defense, and player for player, they match up well with the Packers. An effective and patient run game will keep the Packers balanced, and balance is the best way to have success against the Rams. Third, if the Rams gain an early lead, LaFleur has to keep the Packers poised. The Packers are a front-running team; i.e., if they don’t grab an early lead, they can lose confidence quickly and deflate so badly that they don’t even mount any kind of challenge. This is what happened in last season’s conference championship loss at San Francisco.