GREEN BAY – Across Lambeau Field on the opposite sideline from Matt LaFleur on Sunday will be two of the individuals he's closest with in the coaching profession.
One is Rams head coach Sean McVay, whom LaFleur has known since they joined Washington's offensive staff together in 2010, and who gave LaFleur his first offensive coordinator position in 2017.
The other is LaFleur's younger brother Mike, who's now the Rams offensive coordinator and with his third different team since Matt took the helm in Green Bay in 2019.
"It's a blessing and a curse to be able to go against your friends, but all that goes out the window," the elder LaFleur said this week of the emotions involved in these matchups. "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."
They're opponents LaFleur is accustomed to battling, but strangely in this case, the track records are starkly different.
In going head-to-head with McVay, LaFleur is 3-0, having won the 2020 NFC Divisional playoff matchup as well as regular-season meetings in 2021 and '22. All three games were at Lambeau Field.
But in his head coaching career against his younger brother – who before this year was the passing game coordinator for the 49ers in 2019-20 and the offensive coordinator for the Jets (and head coach Robert Saleh, the best man in LaFleur's wedding) in 2021-22 – LaFleur is just 1-3. The Packers lost at San Francisco in both the regular season and NFC title game in '19, beat the 49ers out west in '20, and lost to the Jets at Lambeau last season.
One of those trends is going to shift with this game, and LaFleur's focus of course is on the family one.
"He's been on the right side of a lot of those lately, so we've got to try to flip the script this weekend," he said. "He's really enjoying his time out there (in LA) and hopefully we can make it a little uncomfortable for him on Sunday."
LaFleur, who just turned 44 on Friday, hasn't ruled out coaching with his younger brother, who's 36, again someday. The two were on the same Atlanta Falcons staff in 2015-16, Matt as QB coach and Mike as an entry-level offensive assistant.
After the Falcons went to the Super Bowl following the 2016 season, they went their separate ways to climb the ladder. Matt became McVay's offensive coordinator with the Rams in '17, while Mike went to San Francisco as passing game coordinator and wide receiver coach for Kyle Shanahan, another member of that Falcons staff who worked with both the elder LaFleur and McVay in Washington early that decade.
All their coaching careers are forever intertwined, and who knows how or where or when they may cross again.
If the brothers do ever reunite, it would make things easier on their parents. Both LaFleur coaches were asked by reporters this week whom their parents cheer for when they're on opposite sidelines, and as expected, the answers were quite different.
"They like me more, so …," Mike told the LA media. Spoken like a younger brother.
"Well, since they're living in Green Bay," Matt said, "they better be rooting for the Packers.
"No, they try to stay impartial as best they can. But like I said, they're living in Green Bay, I happened to get them a house, so they better root for us."