Did the Rams step into their future?

Packers' opponent deserving of respect


The Packers are the present, a team at peak performance and in its prime. The Rams are the future, but did they step into it last Sunday in their win over the Cardinals?

There wasn't much talk about this game when the schedule was announced last spring. Packers fans all pointed to that Week 2 game against the Seahawks. That was the one making hearts beat faster.

The Rams in Week 5? Sorry, don't know much about them. Didn't they draft that short defensive tackle?

Yeah, they did, and he's real good. So is Todd Gurley, this year's first-round draft pick, and Greg Robinson, who was drafted in the first round along with that short defensive tackle in 2014. If you look closely, you'll see the Rams have several good young players on their roster, and that's why they're largely considered to be a team of the future.

When does that future begin? Did it begin last Sunday?

Those questions beg answering this Sunday. The Rams are coming to Green Bay with the idea a win will announce their arrival as NFC playoff contenders.

"I do my job and let my game speak for itself," the short defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, said on Wednesday. He said it several times. Make no mistake about it, Donald is serious about his craft. He's coming here to do to the Packers what he's done to just about everybody he's faced: dominate.

Get serious about this one, folks. This is an NFC game against a team on the rise. Get your mind off the Seahawks and 49ers and past angst, and focus on the now and on the future. They could merge this weekend. These teams could meet again.

Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Rams.

1. Dominate Donald – He might be the most disruptive defensive tackle in the league. He had eight quarterback hurries last week.

2. Run the ball – If you don't, the Rams will be able to load the passing lanes, which is exactly what they want to do.

3. Rush Foles – That's what the Steelers did to Nick Foles to win a 12-6 game. The Packers are tied for the second-most sacks in the league, 17.

4. Stop the run – You know the drill: Win first down, make them one-dimensional.

5. Do the hard count thing –Jeff Fisher is using an air horn in practice this week to prepare for Aaron Rodgers' hard count. It's in the Rams' head; it's in every opponent's head.

6. Block Quinn – If Robert Quinn comes off the edge and forces Rodgers to step up into the pocket, he'll be stepping up into the face of Donald.

7. Beware Austin – Tavon Austin has special speed and elusiveness. He has a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, a 47-yard reception and two touchdowns receiving.

8. Remember what they did – The Rams opened the season by upsetting Seattle. They have two quality wins in their division. They're deserving of respect.

9. Beware tricks – Jeff Fisher is loaded with them. He's always had them ready to go on special teams, and he's not afraid to use them.

10. Score early –The Rams aren't built for shootouts.

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