I’d argue this is annually the best weekend of football – it’s time for the divisional round! Four games, eight great teams, let’s get started. I present my Rams at Packers Betting Preview.
Additional game previews, props and picks will be shared throughout the week on Twitter, so make sure you’re following, @griffybets. Here we go!
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
Saturday 4:35 PM, FOX
Line: Packers -6.5
#6 Los Angeles (11-6 overall), (10-7 ATS)
#1 Green Bay (13-3 overall), (10-6 ATS)
Los Angeles Passing Offense
Receiving grade (19) vs. Packers Pass Coverage grade (3)
Passing DVOA (20) vs. Packers Pass Defense DVOA (15)
Net difference: -21
Los Angeles Rushing Offense
Running grade (17) vs. Packers Rush Defense grade (16)
Rushing DVOA (4) vs. Packers Rush Defense DVOA (18)
Net difference: +13
Green Bay Passing Offense*
Receiving grade (10) vs. Rams Pass coverage grade (1)
Passing DVOA (1) vs. Rams Pass Defense DVOA (4)
Net difference: -6
*I should note, Green Bay’s Passing grade on PFF is 1. Strength on strength
Green Bay Rushing Offense
Running grade (6) vs. Rams Rush defense grade (4)
Rushing DVOA (5) vs. Rams Rush Defense DVOA (3)
Net difference: -4
Rams at Packers Betting Preview: Thoughts on the Game
The first game of the weekend should be a good one, as the Rams boast one of the best defenses in football, while Aaron Rodgers has led this Green Bay offense to a prolific year.
It’s your classic strength-on-strength matchup, which immediately has me leaning towards the Rams to cover the 6.5-point spread.
Star defensive linemen Aaron Donald got banged up for the Rams last week, but looks like he’ll be playing. Quarterback Jared Goff was forced into action last week while still on the mend from a broken thumb. Goff looked serviceable but most definitely not 100%.
The Packers earned the only first round bye in the NFC this year, and appear to be healthy.
I think Green Bay wins. Rodgers is having an MVP-caliber year, tossing 48 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and the secondary, led by Jaire Alexander, has emerged into a true strength for the defense.
Goff’s effectiveness is the x-factor for me here. It was an ugly game against Seattle last week, with Goff completing just 9 of 19 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.
He wasn’t asked to do much, as Cam Akers led the way with 28 carries, 131 yards and a touchdown. As you can see above, Akers is well-positioned for a big game on paper – we’ll get to that.
Rodgers is the best player on the field, and it’s his presence that has me thinking the Packers will win. But 6.5 points is a lot, and on paper, these teams are evenly matched.
PFF grades the Packers as the top team in the NFL, with the Rams right behind them, third in the league.
Game pick: Rams +6.5
Player Props to Target: Rams
Akers is the clear target for this Los Angeles offense. Coming off a monster game, the rookie has firmly established himself as the top back for the Rams.
Green Bay’s run defense is their weak link, though it has solidified of late, allowing an average of just 68.8 rushing yards per game in their last five.
Where I see value is in Akers to score a touchdown. Akers is the only redzone back in this offense. In the last four games he’s played, Akers is the only back to receive a carry in close.
I’m seeing early lines of his over at 72.5. It’s not a bad bet, but I prefer the scoring prop in this one. If that line drops before kickoff, I’d consider taking it closer to the 65 range.
In the last five games since Akers has taken over lead back duties, his per game averages: 22.8 carries, 94.2 yards.
Prop pick: Cam Akers TD (-105)
Lean: Akers OVER yards
Player Props to Target: Packers
I have a rule: don’t take player props against the top-ranked defense in the NFL.
That would be the Rams, at least on PFF, where they’re ranked #1. What about DVOA, you ask? #4 in the league.
Listen – I’m not forcing a pick here. Jalen Ramsey is a true lockdown corner and should be shadowing Davante Adams all game.
Elsewhere, the Rams run defense is equally strong, having not allowed over 100 rushing yards to a team since Week 12, and only four times all year.
If you trust a great offense over a great defense, then I’d focus on the passing game, specifically Rodgers’ over (currently set at 285.5).
Green Bay is the top offense on both PFF and DVOA, and it’s why I think they’ll win. I just don’t trust a prop pick here.
There are three other games to find prop value, so let’s put a bow on this game preview.
Make sure you’re following on Twitter, @griffybets, for my previews and picks for the rest of the games. Thanks for reading, and good luck this weekend!
Divisional Round work: