By DAN ZIELINSKI
The Super Bowl is in sight for the Green Bay Packers, who have home-field advantage and need two wins to return to the game’s biggest stage.
On Saturday afternoon, the Packers will start their quest for their first Super Bowl appearance since 2011 when they host the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field.
The Rams had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in the regular season, allowing the fewest yards (281.9) and points (18.5) per game. They also finished with the second-most sacks (53), with elite defensive tackle Aaron Donald accounting for 13.5 sacks.
The Rams will likely slow down the Packers’ prolific offense at times. They are just too talented not to make an occasional big play.
This game will come down to the Rams’ offense versus the Packers’ defense. The Rams recorded 164 rushing yards in their first-round playoff victory over Seattle last week. But during the regular season, the Packers allowed the ninth-fewest yards, including 112.8 rushing yards per contest.
The Packers’ run defense will have to step up and force Rams quarterback Jared Goff to throw the ball. Goff has battled a thumb injury and didn’t start last week’s game, as he replaced John Wolford, who departed last week’s game with an injury.
Goff posted average numbers in the regular season before struggling last week against the Seahawks, completing 9 of 19 attempts for 155 yards and one touchdown.
The Rams have to deal with the cold, travel and elite Packers’ offense on Saturday. But the Packers tend to struggle after a bye week. This will be an intriguing matchup and closer than most anticipate. But it’s hard to bet against the Packers this season.
Prediction: Packers 27, Rams 24