How the Rams and Packers match up in Week 8

LOS ANGELES, SEPTEMBER 27, 2018-Rams running back Todd Gurley is introduced before a game with the V
Rams running back Todd Gurley will look to continue his impressive season against the Packers.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rams (7-0) vs. Green Bay (3-2-1)

When Rams have the ball

The Rams are the NFL’s top rushing team — mainly because reigning NFL offensive player of the year Todd Gurley is off to an even better start than last season. Gurley is averaging a league-best 98 yards per game and has scored a league-leading 14 touchdowns. But the team average (153.1 yards per game) is high because backup Malcolm Brown and receivers also have been productive. Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Brown rushed for a team-high 65 yards. The Packers are giving up 116.5 yards rushing per game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff appeared unusually sore in the immediate aftermath of the victory over the 49ers. His throwing arm seemed fine but he absorbed blows to his left side. The Rams once again will be without receiver Cooper Kupp, who remains sidelined because of a knee injury. Second-year pro Josh Reynolds will start again alongside Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. The Packers’ 3-4 scheme features linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, who will play in the Coliseum for the first time since they starred for USC. Matthews and Perry both have 1½ sacks. Linebacker Blake Martinez has three sacks, former UCLA lineman Kenny Clark two. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has three interceptions and he leads a secondary that includes Tramon Williams and Kevin King.

When Packers have the ball


Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been nursing a knee injury since Week 1, but that has not affected his efficiency. He has passed for 12 touchdowns with only one interception, and he will be rested after last week’s open date. Rams linemen Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers will attempt to contain Rodgers, who also has rushed for 111 yards in 17 carries. Donald is coming off a career-best four-sack performance against the 49ers, a game in which he also forced and recovered a fumble and had six tackles for losses. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Troy Hill will be challenged by receivers Davante Adams — who has scored six touchdowns — Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb. Tight end Jimmy Graham appears back to the form that made him such a threat early in his career with the New Orleans Saints. Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery give the Packers a rushing threat, but the main weapon, of course, is Rodgers and his uncanny ability to make plays even when they break down. Peters has played well the last two games, and Hill recovered from struggles against the Denver Broncos and intercepted a pass against the 49ers.

When they kick

The Rams’ Greg Zuerlein returned from a groin injury last week and kicked three field goals. Johnny Hekker has punted only 15 times, but the three-time Pro Bowl player can put Rodgers in tough positions if the Rams’ offense falters. Packers kicker Mason Crosby had a disastrous Week 5 performance against Detroit — he missed four field-goal attempts and an extra point — but he has made 15 of 20 field-goal attempts this season.

Gary Klein’s prediction


A large contingent of Packers fans is expected to contribute to a playoff-type atmosphere at the Coliseum. Rodgers and the Packers of the NFC North are rested, but that will not be enough against a Rams team that is running away with the NFC West and is already playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs.