Week 12 Matchup Preview: Los Angeles Rams vs Green Bay Packers

by Shervon Fakhimi · Matchups Start/Sit

Week 12 showcases two games that feature two teams with seven or more wins. The Tennessee Titans facing the New England Patriots makes one of the said matchups. The other is this article’s featured showdown: the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams traveling north to take on the 8-3 Green Bay Packers. One point separates these two in the eyes of Vegas, who view the Rams as the favorite. This matchup intrigues from all angles, so analyzing it is a must. Onto the breakdown!

Los Angeles Rams

Why Not Kupp?

That has been the mantra for the Rams all season, so why stop now? The Packers defense has performed well all season long, but the levies fell off the dam last week in Minnesota. They got torched time and time again by Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and now have THE number one fantasy receiver Cooper Kupp strolling into town. Kupp is in the top five in almost every opportunity metric on PlayerProfiler.com: with 116 (No. 2 among qualified wide receivers) targets, a 32.0-percent (No. 3) Target Share, a 33.8-percent (No. 2) Target Rate, and 24 (No. 1) red zone targets. Kupp handled 13 of Matthew Stafford‘s 41 pass attempts (31.7-percent) in the Rams’ first game without Robert Woods this season. Without shutdown corner Jaire Alexander, the Packers don’t have anyone who can slow Kupp down. Expect more of the same dominance from him.

The rest of the passing game is murky, however. Odell Beckham garners the hoopla, but he was a bit player in Week 10. He saw the field for 27-percent of the Rams’ snaps last Monday Night, hauling in only three targets and snagging two of them for 18 yards. It’s tough for receivers to develop chemistry with a new quarterback in a new system after switching teams midseason, so wait and see how involved he is this week before rushing him into lineups.

Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee are the next guys up after Kupp in this passing game, and both are usable.

Jefferson has steadily played above 84-percent of the team’s snaps in each of the last four weeks, and at least 94-percent in three of those four. His 13.3 (No. 15) Average Target Distance and 16.2 (No. 9) yards per reception indicate Stafford looks for Jefferson deep and often. The Packers got smoked down the field again and again by a different Jefferson (Justin Jefferson) last week, and while Van is not Justin, he is far from a slouch in his own right.

Tyler Higbee has a 90.8-percent (No. 1) Snap Share, 16 (No. 1) red zone targets, 296 (No. 5) routes run, and an 80.9-percent (No. 4) Route Participation. Green Bay’s defense ranks in the bottom third of the NFL in points allowed to the tight end position. It’s not a daunting matchup. Add that with Higbee’s high usage and it equals a starting-caliber tight end.

Lastly amongst the Rams pass catchers: monitor Ben Skowronek

Ben Skowronek Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Rams’ seventh-round rookie from Notre Dame only hauled in one reception for eight yards, but he did also see five targets and played on 76-percent of the Rams’ snaps in Week 10. Don’t go nuts yet, but keep an eye on him.

The Backfield

Matthew Stafford has traditionally struggled in Lambeau Field but hasn’t always basked in the luxury of a potent offense when making the trip to the Frozen Tundra. The Packers defense is formidable, but not unbreakable. They rank No. 12 in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA metric and No. 14 overall. The Packers have been banged up all season. They’ve missed both Jaire Alexander (since Week 5) and Za’Darius Smith (since Week 2). Playing against weaker offenses has helped their cause, but that won’t be the case this week. The Packers defense will put up a fight, but Stafford should look like his normal self this week.


Green Bay has been less stout against the run (No. 26 in Football Outsiders’ run DVOA metric). This bodes tremendously for workhorse Darrell Henderson, who has 129.0 (No. 15) Weighted Opportunities and a 69.9-percent (No. 11) Opportunity Share. Henderson’s work in the passing game has sneakily climbed too over the course of the season. He’s registered at least four targets in three of his last four games and finds himself in the top six among running backs in slot snaps, routes run and Route Participation. With Robert Woods out of the picture, it would make sense if Henderson’s growing role through the air continues. While Sony Michel will take touches here and there and remains a priority handcuff as we enter handcuff season, Henderson is still the safe RB1 he’s been all year.

Green Bay Packers

All Hail Davante

The passing game is in a similar boat on the other side of the field. Everything goes through Davante Adams. What else is there to say about Davante’s dominance? He’s as good as he’s ever been. Though he’ll see plenty of time matched up against arguably the best corner in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey, that did not stop him from hauling nine of his ten targets for 66 yards and a touchdown when these two teams met in the playoffs last year. His 33.8-percent Target Share tops everybody in the NFL. Don’t be scared of Ramsey. Davante’s got this.


The next man up is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He did what he’s paid to do last week: win deep. His 19.1 Average Target Distance was realized last week when he housed a post route for 75 yards. He finished the game with four receptions (off 10 targets) for 123 yards and a touchdown. It helped last week that Minnesota’s corners are not the most stellar in the NFL. Ramsey gets the headlines, but Darious Williams (PlayerProfiler’s No. 33-ranked cornerback) can handle his business too. MVS is always a boom-or-bust player. I’d advise against throwing him back into lineups *this week,* but keep him stashed.

If it’s tough to trust MVS, then it is really tough to trust any other pass-catching option on this team. Chasing and hoping for touchdowns is a fool’s errand. It’s safe to let these other options sit on the waiver wire.

The Backfield

Aaron Rodgers‘ featuring toe injury (now revealed to be a fractured pinky toe) did not stop him from dropping 385 yards and four touchdowns last week and won’t stop him from playing going forward. Protecting Rodgers is going to be an issue for the Packers, however. Swiss-army knife offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins tore his ACL in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and rookie center Josh Myers still have not returned to action either. Dealing with offensive line issues is never ideal, especially when dealing with the generational Aaron Donald and Von Miller. It doesn’t help that the Rams rank No. 10 in pass DVOA.

Rodgers will keep his team afloat, but this week looks more like a floor week than a ceiling week.

Aaron Jones absence ceded the full workload to A.J. Dillon, and Dillon delivered. He played on a career-high 75-percent of snaps, ran 11 times for 53 yards, and also commanded a career-high six targets. He snagged all of them to churn out an additional 44 yards. Dillon has looked the part of a feature back in Jones’ absence. Jones did return to practice on Wednesday, however, making it possible he returns this week. 

If Jones returns, I believe the split between he and Dillon will return back to normal, especially with the Packers’ offensive line issues this week. Jones typically is the one on the field in obvious passing situations and two-minute drills due to his proficiency both as a receiver and a blocker. If Jones returns, I could see him return and stay to block much more than normal given his 51.8-percent (No. 10) Route Participation. If he doesn’t, then it will be the Dillon show again.


Cliff Notes:

QB: Start Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
RB: A.J. Dillon and Darrell Henderson are both RB1s if Aaron Jones sits. If not, play Jones over Dillon.
WR: Davante Adams and Cooper Kupp are unimpeachably great.
TE: Tyler Higbee is safe.
Beware: Everyone else.


The Packers are an hour away from punching the clock on their night shift, while the Rams woke up from a good night’s sleep. The states of these two teams are polar opposites after the Rams came off a bye last week, while the Packers are battered and bruised with their bye next week. Vegas likes the Rams as one-point favorites, and it’s hard to find fault in their process. The Packers will fight in the comforts, but I worry the injury to Elgton Jenkins will make the mountain too treacherous a climb. The Rams win a close 28-23 affair that cashes the over of 47 points.