Which group will bounce back? Packers' defense, Rams' offense both looking to rebound

Plus notes on Matthew Stafford, playoff rematches and Charles Woodson

Packers' defensive unit

GREEN BAY – The Packers' defense had gone seven consecutive games without allowing more than 22 points.

Then Minnesota happened.

"Last week wasn't a reflection of who we are as a defense, and it wasn't a good thing to put on tape and out there on film," linebacker Preston Smith said of the 34 points allowed to the Vikings. "It wasn't nothing nobody was proud of after the game."

Which has put Green Bay's defense in true bounce-back mode for the first time since September, and the unit must rebound against one of the more high-octane offenses in the league Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The visiting Rams were rolling until the last two games before their bye a week ago. L.A. had been held under 26 points only once all season until scoring a total of just 26 in two losses to the Titans and 49ers.

Both the Packers' defense and Rams' offense are prime examples of how difficult it is to sustain such a high level of play for an extended period of time in the NFL. Eventually an off day arrives, or an opponent simply gets the best of you.

"We just gotta move past that quickly," safety Adrian Amos said of what the defense wants to make just a bump in the road. "Look where they did things that gave us problems, look at problems that we had within ourselves that we can fix quickly. That's just how it is over the course of the season.

"But don't let that one game beat us twice."

That's sort of what happened to the Rams, as quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions in each of the consecutive losses, accounting for half of his eight picks on the season. They followed up a loss to Tennessee with a bigger dud against San Francisco.

Amos attributed the Packers' "problems" to defensive backs having their eyes in the wrong place and not communicating well. That helped Vikings QB Kirk Cousins rack up eight completions of 18 yards or more.

Given that, Head Coach Matt LaFleur expects Stafford and L.A's offense to be "very, very aggressive," as they've been all season, and if they make any mistakes, the Packers will have to capitalize.

That's what Green Bay didn't do last week, as Cousins served up multiple interception opportunities that weren't cashed in. But while defensive coordinator Joe Barry said his players were "(ticked) off" after last week and LaFleur called them "motivated" this week, the Packers aren't dwelling on those, just moving forward.

"That game's already over, you know what I'm saying?" Amos said. "That's my message, period, to everybody … That game's already over."

Familiar foe, new team: Speaking of Stafford, Sunday will mark his 21st career start against the Packers, but his first with a team other than the Lions. That's the most starts of any QB against the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era.

To date, Stafford is 7-13 against Green Bay, but only three of those seven wins came in games Rodgers played the duration. Stafford is 4-1 against the Packers in games without Rodgers, having lost the 2011 regular-season finale when Matt Flynn filled in, but then winning four straight since (the 2013 Thanksgiving game, both matchups in 2017, and the 2018 finale when Rodgers left with a concussion after one quarter).

Success in playoff rematches: The Packers-Rams contest will mark the 14th time in the Rodgers era Green Bay has faced a team in the year immediately following a playoff contest.

Thus far, in so-called playoff rematches, the Packers are 8-4-1, most recently having beaten the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 after the two teams met in the 2019 postseason.

The other wins are against Atlanta and Chicago (twice) in 2011, Minnesota in 2013 (along with a tie), Dallas and Seattle in 2015, and Dallas again in 2017. The losses are to the Giants in 2012, San Francisco in 2013, Washington in 2016 and Atlanta in 2017.

Another name on the wall: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2021 inductee Charles Woodson will receive his Hall of Fame ring and have his name unveiled on the Lambeau Field façade during a halftime ceremony at Sunday's game.

Woodson is the franchise's 27th individual in Canton, and his name will be the 28th name permanently added to Lambeau's interior. It's the third to go up this year, following former GM Ted Thompson's and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Dillon's.

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