Given it’s performance the last time it played a post-season game, the Green Bay Packers defense will be under a microscope against the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs. A game that will kickoff at 3:35 Saturday afternoon from Lambeau Field.
In a 37-20 loss to the 49ers in last season’s NFC Championship game, the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards against a lifeless Mike Pettine defense.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff plays less than three weeks removed from thumb surgery, and starting wide receiver Cooper Kupp deals with bursitis in his knee, the focus for the Packers defense becomes clear.
“It’s Cam Akers,” ESPN-Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde tells Wisconsin’s Afternoon News.
A rookie out of Florida State, Akers rushed 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown in a 30-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Akers also contributed 2 receptions for 45 yards as a receiver.
“If you can stop Cam Akers, you also prevent the Rams from doing what the Vikings did when they beat the Packers at Lambeau Field: Possess the ball for a very long time, and keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench,” Wilde continues.
The Packers finished the regular season ranked 13th against the run (112.8 yards per game), but finished on a high note controlling Titans running back Derrick Henry (98 yards) and Bears running back David Montgomery (69 yards).
“They have gotten better – especially the Smith’s and Rashan Gary – at setting edges,” Wilde continues. “Something they did horribly earlier this season and certainly in that San Francisco game. They have to be better in that department.”