NFL Divisional Round: Packers-Rams preview, live stream, playoff schedule

The NFL's decision to expand its playoff format for the 2020 season is already paying dividends for the league. Super Wild Card Weekend provided fans with six competitive games, a few upsets, and eight teams now remain with hopes of lifting the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay.

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The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will begin their title defense against the Cleveland Browns, while MVP favourite Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers play host to Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. After winning their first playoff game since 1995, the Buffalo Bills host the Baltimore Ravens, while Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints square off against Tom Brady and the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cap off the divisional round. Although the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to disrupt the playoffs, each of the eight remaining teams survived the wild card weekend, with the Super Bowl now in clear view.

Division Round Preview: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are the engines behind the Green Bay Packers' top-ranked scoring offense. They may have their hands full against Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the Los Angeles Rams' top-ranked scoring defense. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are the engines behind the Green Bay Packers' top-ranked scoring offense. They may have their hands full against Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the Los Angeles Rams' top-ranked scoring defense. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Date: Saturday January 16 at 4:35 p.m. ET
How to watch: Live on DAZN

This matchup is already shaping up to be a classic, pitting the Packers’ top-ranked scoring offense against the Rams’ league-best scoring defense. Rodgers is the presumptive MVP favourite and Davante Adams rightfully earned a first-team All-Pro selection, while Donald should lock up his third Defensive Player of the Year award, as Jalen Ramsey and the Rams’ secondary will be swarming for turnovers. Simply, this is the type of game we’ve been waiting for all year.

Rodgers doesn’t need much external motivation but was reportedly incensed when the Packers selected quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft. Instead of brooding, Rodgers submitted one of the greatest seasons of all-time — his 2011 MVP campaign is the only one in his catalogue that’s comparable — throwing for a league-best 48 touchdowns against five interceptions, while forming the NFL’s most dangerous QB-WR combo with Adams. Marquez Valdes-Scantling emerged as a solid No. 2 option, while tight end Robert Tonyan posted 11 touchdowns. Rodgers also benefited from playing behind the NFL’s best offensive line, featuring first-team All-Pros David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley.

It’s not the juiciest storyline, but how the Rams’ defensive line fares against the Packers’ offensive line may dictate this matchup. Donald is an otherworldly force, but he will undergo an MRI on a rib injury incurred against the Seahawks, and though it would take a season-ending ailment to keep him out, his effectiveness may be diminished. Although the Rams’ secondary will be tested by Rodgers, who is at the top of his game, it’s a deep unit well-equipped to slow the Packers down. Ramsey will likely shadow Adams, Darious Williams — who was arguably the best player on the field against the Seahawks — will take Valdes-Scantling, while safeties John Johnson and Jordan Fuller are quietly among the best tandems in the NFL.

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Jared Goff returned to action after John Wolford was taken to the hospital Saturday with a neck injury. Goff underwent thumb surgery on Dec. 28 and in an ideal world shouldn’t even be playing, but he rallied his team to a 30-20 victory. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are two of the best receivers after the catch and knowing that Goff’s velocity is significantly diminished, the Packers will be able to mix up man and zone coverage as freely as they’d like. Cam Akers rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks, and could loom large for the Rams again, but they’ll have to get the passing game going to keep pace with Rodgers.

Packers vs. Rams: Tale of the Tape

Category

GB

LAR

Record

13-3

10-6

Head-to-Head

N/A

N/A

Points For (per game)

31.8

23.3

Points Against (per game)

23.1

18.5

Packers will win because

Rodgers is playing the best football of his career, and his lone comparable season was a decade ago. The MVP favourite desperately wants a second Super Bowl to add to his legacy, and the Packers have proven all year that they can scorch opponents at will. Adams scored a league-best 18 receiving touchdowns and is simply unstoppable against single coverage. Goff is playing through an injury, and second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander will erase either Woods or Kupp, rendering the Rams’ offense predictable.

Rams will win because

The NFL’s best defense could flummox Rodgers, and if they neutralize Adams, the rest of Rodgers’ weaponry looks pretty unremarkable. Donald is the league’s best player and could live in the backfield, while the Rams’ loaded secondary can erase Rodgers’ second and third looks all game long. Akers is determined not to be a one-hit wonder, and a robust rushing game could offset Goff’s diminished throwing ability long enough to hold off the Packers in an upset.

What’s the NFL Playoffs schedule in 2021?

  • Wild Card games: January 9-10

  • Divisional games: January 16-17

  • Conference championships: January 24

  • Super Bowl: February 7

NFL Wild Card Round Schedule

Saturday January 9

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

1:05 p.m.

Colts at Bills

DAZN

4:40 p.m.

Rams at Seahawks

DAZN

8:15 p.m.

Buccaneers at Washington

DAZN

NFL Wild Card Round Schedule

Sunday January 10

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

1:05 p.m.

Ravens at Titans

DAZN

4:40 p.m.

Bears at Saints

DAZN

8:15 p.m.

Browns at Steelers

DAZN

NFL Division Round Schedule

Saturday January 16

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

4:35 p.m.

Rams at Packers

DAZN

8:05 p.m.

Ravens at Bills

DAZN

NFL Division Round Schedule

Sunday January 17

Time (ET)

Matchup

Stream

3:05 p.m.

Browns at Chiefs

DAZN

6:40 p.m.

Bucs at Saints

DAZN

NFL AFC/NFC Conference Championship Schedule

Sunday January 24

NFL Super Bowl 55 Schedule

Sunday February 7

Time

Matchup

Stream

TBD

AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion

DAZN

More NFL Playoffs on Yahoo Sports

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