First up…the Los Angeles Rams.
With the Chicago Bears losing 21-9 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night in the NFC wild-card round, the Green Bay Packers (13-3) are now locked to face Sean McVay and his sixth-seeded Rams next weekend at Lambeau Field in the NFC divisional round.
The Packers-Rams kickoff has been scheduled for 3:35 p.m. CT Saturday (Jan. 16) and will be televised nationally on Fox.
A potential divisional-round clash between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady was taken off the table before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even played on Saturday night, thanks to the Rams upsetting the third-seeded Seattle Seahawks in the weekend’s second game. Once they advanced as the No. 6 seed, there were only two possible scenarios for the NFC — Bears vs. Packers and Rams vs. Bucs or Rams vs Packers and Saints vs. Bucs.
Here’s a closer look at the Packers’ first playoff game against the Rams along with connections between the two franchises coming into the matchup:
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Closer Look at Packers-Rams History
There have been 95 games played between the Packers and Rams in the all-time series — one that dates back to when the Rams were based in Cleveland — the two sides are nearly even with the Rams slightly leading at 47-46-2. In terms of the postseason, though, each franchise has stolen a win from the other.
The Packers swatted the pre-move Los Angeles Rams out of the divisional round in 1967 with a 28-7 victory in Milwaukee, going on to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the next round and the then-Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II. It marked the fifth NFL championship won under Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi.
More than three decades later, the St. Louis Rams got their revenge when Kurt Warner helped them dominate Brett Favre and the Packers in the divisional round of the 2001 playoffs, winning 45-17 at home. The Rams defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the next round but ultimately lost 20-17 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The Packers have played the Rams just one time since their move back to L.A., a 29-27 road loss midway through Mike McCarthy’s final years at the helm in 2018, but things are hardly the same in Green Bay as they were back then. The new coaching regime of Matt LaFleur — a close friend of McVay’s — has helped the Packers go a combined 26-6 over the past two regular seasons with automatic bids in each to the NFC divisional round.
LaFleur-McVay Connection Notable
The stronger connection between the Packers and Rams next weekend will undoubtedly come from their respective head coaches, as the two were working together on the same coaching staff as recently as three seasons ago.
LaFleur and McVay worked together in Washington as assistants under then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in the early 2010s, reuniting in 2017 when McVay was hired as the Rams head coach and tabbed LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator. At the time, LaFleur was coming off a strong two years as Atlanta’s quarterbacks coach, helping Matt Ryan win the MVP in 2016.
While their partnership in L.A. only lasted one season before LaFleur moved on to run Tennessee’s offense in 2018, it delivered immediate results for the Rams. Not only did the Rams improve from a four-win team out of the playoffs to an 11-win winner of the NFC East in McVay’s first year, but they also went from being the league’s worst offense in 2016 to one of its best in 2017.
The LaFleur-led Rams offense finished the 2017 season as the No. 1 scoring offense (29.9 points per game) and among the top 10 in passing yards (3,831 yards, 10th), rushing yards (1,953 yards, eighth) and total yards (5,784 yards, 10th).