The Packers head to St. Louis to take on the Rams this Sunday. Both teams are 3-3 and seem to match up evenly on paper. Let’s take a look at the key matchups this game will bring.
Rams CB Cortland Finnegan vs. Packers WR Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb
Finnegan has been a good free agent pick up for the Rams and is reunited with Jeff Fisher, who was Finnegan’s head coach in Tennessee. According to ProFootballFocus, Finnegan has been targeted 40 times this season and averages just 8.8 yards/catch.
I have Finnegan matched up on both Nelson and Cobb because Finnegan is likely move over to the slot in the Rams’ nickel package. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers passed just 29 times in last year’s game so depending on how many 4-5 wide sets the Pack use will determine who Finnegan lines up on.
In last season’s matchup between these teams, Nelson had just 2 catches but the most memorable was a 93 yard catch and run on a slant for a TD. Of course, St. Louis didn’t have Finnegan or this same quality secondary. Whoever Finnegan is blanketing will definitely be earning every ball caught.
With the Rams secondary needing to respect Nelson, Cobb and James Jones, one of the three should put up some good numbers. My bet is on Cobb as it’s just plain dumb to leave Nelson one on one, even against the trusty Finnegan. The Rams can only offer so much help over the top so they will have to pick their poison.
Packers OLB Clay Matthews vs. Rams LT Joe Barksdale
It was noted via Twitter on Friday that Rams LT Wayne Hunter has not practiced at all this week and is doubtful to play on Sunday. Hunter was already in to replace the injured Roger Saffold who was the Rams’ opening day starter at left tackle.
Getting the start in Hunters’ absence would be Barksdale. Barksdale was just recently awarded to the Rams after being waived by Oakland in late September. He is a backup tackle at best and only has to come in and face one of the best pass rushers in Matthews. With the Rams extremely thin at left tackle, they are forced to play Barksdale despite the fact that he has virtually zero experience on the left side.