The 2022 NFL season has officially reached its home stretch. Only four weeks remain in the regular season, and then the chase for the Lombardi Trophy officially begins. It’s easy to look ahead, but there’s still a lot up in the air.
Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams looked like a potential NFC Championship Game preview before the season, but that has not panned out. The Packers have stumbled to a 5-8 record, while the Rams have fared even worse at 4-9. Both teams are still theoretically alive in the playoff race, but need a lot to go their way.
That said, each side coming into this game on a high note. Green Bay defeated the Chicago Bears 28-19 in comeback fashion, then enjoyed a much-needed bye week. Meanwhile, Los Angeles miraculously beat the Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 last week, with newly-acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield leading the comeback.
If these teams want to remain in the playoff hunt, winning this game is an absolute must. Without further ado, here are some bold Packers predictions for Monday night’s showdown against the Rams.
3. Jaire Alexander gets his fifth pick of the year
Green Bay’s defense has been a mixed bag this year. The Packers have been very good against the pass, ranking fourth in the league, but also have the third-worst rushing defense. Against the Rams, who are tied with the Texans for the worst total offense in the league and have an especially poor ground game, the Packers’ defense could have one of its best games of the season.
The star of said defense has been none other than cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander has helped the Packers become one of the league’s best pass defenses, leading the team with 12 passes defended and four interceptions. While many Packers have had disappointing seasons, Alexander is having one of the best in his career.
Meanwhile, Mayfield is working with a limited playbook, a barebones receiver corps and will be playing in the cold weather. The Packers also tore Mayfield apart in his last visit to Lambeau Field, forcing four interceptions in a 24-22 Christmas Day victory over the Cleveland Browns last season.
The kicker is that Alexander missed that game due to injury. Now that he’s back, he will want to get in on the fun himself. He should get at least one interception in this game, and he is confident he will.
Jaire Alexander on Monday night's game against the Rams:
"With the right game plan and preparation, we should get like seven interceptions."
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) December 17, 2022
2. Christian Watson continues hot streak with 2 touchdowns
After a slow start to the season, Christian Watson has been a revelation for the Packers’ offense. In the last four games, the rookie wideout has caught 15 passes for 313 yards and seven touchdowns. After not scoring at all in the first two months of the season, Watson has now tied Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill and others for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in the league.
Los Angeles’ pass defense this season has been middle of the road. The Rams have allowed 330.5 passing yards per game, which ranks 13th in the league. However, if quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Geno Smith can tear up the Rams’ defense, then Aaron Rodgers can as well.
Watson is on fire right now, and will be one of Rodgers’ favorite targets again on Monday. The rookie should score at least one touchdown in this game, if not more.
1. Green Bay keeps its playoff hopes alive with a two-score win
Green Bay’s playoff hopes are hanging by a thread right now. At 5-8, the Packers hold the 10th seed in the NFC, needing to pass three teams to make it to the dance. FiveThirtyEight gives the Packers an 8% chance to make the playoffs.
If the Packers are hanging by a thread, then the Rams are on life support. According to FiveThirtyEight, Los Angeles has less than a 0.1% chance to make the playoffs, and only one very specific scenario can get them there. Considering how injured the Rams are, the defending Super Bowl champs are likely already looking toward next season.
Right now, the Packers are the healthier and more complete team. Green Bay enters this game as a seven-point favorite, which seems reasonable considering both teams’ struggles. However, if the Packers play up to their ability, they could break this game open.
Green Bay needs this game, and everyone on the team knows it. Rodgers and Matt LaFleur will have the team ready to play, and they’ll overwhelm the battered Rams. Green Bay should win this game by 10 or more points.