GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers haven’t reached the end zone before halftime in any of their last five games. The Los Angeles Rams gave up four first-half touchdowns when they last took the field.
As the Packers (2-5) host the Rams (3-5) in a Sunday matchup of slumping teams, the game could come down to which of them can avoid falling behind early. The Packers have lost four consecutive games, while the Rams have dropped two straight and three of four.
These stats tell the story about the struggles of these two teams: The Rams fell behind 33-9 in the first half of a 43-20 loss at Dallas on Sunday, as the defense allowed three touchdowns and the offense gave up a pick-6. The Packers have scored more than 24 points over an entire game just once, in a 38-20 season-opening victory at Chicago.
“I think that game, we started fast. ... I think that’s what we’ve got to get back to – just starting the game fast and being able to put up points on that first drive, second drive,” said Packers quarterback Jordan Love, whose team has totaled just 40 points in its last three games. “It’ll be a snowball effect after that because I think once we get rolling, everybody is making plays and we’re a tough offense to stop.”
The Rams have an uncertain quarterback situation after Matthew Stafford sprained his right thumb at Dallas, preventing him from practicing this week. The Rams' Friday injury report listed Stafford as questionable for Sunday's game.
“It’s one of those deals that you give him up until right before the game,” Rams coach Sea McVay said. “You use all the time necessary for a player like him.”
Brett Rypien would likely start at quarterback if Stafford is unavailable. Although the 27-year-old Rypien has thrown twice as many career interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes (four), he owns a 2-1 record in his three previous starts.
Rypien started one game for the Denver Broncos in 2020 and two more in 2022. The Rams activated him from their practice squad last month. He went 5 of 10 for 42 yards after taking over for the injured Stafford against the Cowboys.
These two staffs have plenty of familiarity with each other.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur was the offensive coordinator on McVay’s Rams staff in 2017. LaFleur and McVay also worked together as NFL assistants in Washington from 2010-13.
LaFleur is the older brother of Mike LaFleur, who joined McVay’s staff as offensive coordinator this season. The LaFleurs also faced off last year, when Mike was offensive coordinator for a Jets team that won 27-10 at Green Bay.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to be able to go against your friends, but all that goes out the window,” Matt LaFleur said. “You don’t even think about it really throughout the course of the week. It’s just you see them right before gametime, you kind of reconnect really quick and then it’s you’re off to your own sideline and it’s just another opponent out there.”
RAMS’ DYNAMIC DUO
The Rams have one of the NFL’s top receiving tandems in 2021 All-Pro selection Cooper Kupp and rookie Puka Nacua.
Kupp has 21 catches for 316 yards and one touchdown in four games since returning from a hamstring injury. Nacua, a fifth-round pick from BYU, is tied for second in the league in receptions (61) and ranks third in yards receiving (795).
Nacua is questionable for Sunday's game due to a knee injury.
Green Bay will be playing its first game since trading veteran cornerback Rasul Douglas plus a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for a third-round selection. Douglas intercepted 10 passes since signing with the Packers in October 2021.
The loss of Douglas is the latest setback for a Packers secondary that already has cornerback Eric Stokes (hamstring) and safety Darnell Savage (calf) on injured reserve. Douglas’ exit likely means more playing time for rookie seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine as well as Corey Ballentine.
Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith has recorded four sacks over his last three games. He had two sacks and forced a fumble Sunday in the Packers’ 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
This game features two of the youngest teams in the NFL.
The average age of the players on Green Bay’s 53-man roster at the start of the season was 25.13, making the Packers the NFL’s youngest team. The Rams had the third-youngest roster at the start of the season with an average age of 25.45. The Cincinnati Bengals were second at 25.42.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham contributed to this report.
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