- Former NFL safety Matt Bowen is a veteran of four teams over seven seasons, and now provides analysis for ESPN Insider.
Just seven NFL playoff games remain, and all eight remaining teams are just two wins away from reaching Super Bowl LV. Four exciting matchups are on deck this weekend in the divisional round, and the Chiefs and Packers now get into the mix after their wild-card byes. A pair of 5-seeds also meet their conferences’ No. 2 seeds, including a big prime-time showdown of Tom Brady versus Drew Brees.
How can all eight teams pick up wins and move on? Let’s take a closer look at all four matchups and pick out game plan keys — one on offense, one on defense — that can create edges and a path to the conference championships for each team.
Let’s begin with Saturday’s meeting of Aaron Rodgers’ playmaking Packers offense and Aaron Donald’s big-time Rams defense.
(6) Los Angeles Rams at (1) Green Bay Packers
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET | FPI predicts GB (65.1%) by 5
How the Rams can beat the Packers
1. Run the ball with efficiency out of 12 and 11 personnel
Rookie running back Cam Akers looked like a veteran in the wild-card win over the Seahawks, rushing for 131 yards and a score on 28 carries. That’s good volume for a back with second-level juice. And I believe the Rams will be even more run-heavy in this matchup.
Look for coach Sean McVay to mix his personnel with one- and two-tight end sets, using inside/outside zone and gap schemes. Behind an offensive line that can create movement off the ball, that will open clean lanes for Akers to get up on the Packers’ linebackers versus both base and sub-package fronts. And with that run-game efficiency, McVay can set up quarterback Jared Goff with clean platform throws off play-action against the Packers’ zone coverages.
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