Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Line: Green Bay -7.5
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
When: Monday, 12/19 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Two of the NFL’s most disappointing teams will square off in front of a national audience on Monday night when the Packers host the Rams.
Los Angeles, the reigning Super Bowl winner, has already been assured a sub-.500 record. Green Bay could win out and still miss the playoffs for the first time under head coach Matt LaFleur.
However, both teams do have some slight momentum coming into this matchup, as the Rams beat Las Vegas their last time out and the Packers picked up a 28-19 win at Chicago prior to their bye week. DraftKings has Green Bay listed at +750 to make the playoffs, while Los Angeles is a 40-1 longshot.
Oddsmakers opened Green Bay as near double-digit favorites at -9.5, but the early betting action has dropped the spread to -7 as of Saturday afternoon. Weather conditions are expected to be harsh on Monday night, which has led to the total dipping from 41 to 39.
Los Angeles is essentially playing for pride at this point in this season, which it showed plenty of in its upset win over Las Vegas last week. The Rams debuted recently acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield, who led the team on a late scoring drive to pull off the upset in his first action with the franchise after being claimed two days prior.
Mayfield replaced John Wolford after one series against the Raiders, throwing for 230 yards and the game-winning touchdown to cap off a 98-yard drive. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his accolades in that primetime game.
“I don’t know if you could write it any better than that,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, we’d like to be a little bit more stress-free. But it’s a pretty damn good story. I’ll be honest with you. It’s special.”
Wolford is dealing with a neck injury and Matthew Stafford is out for the season due to a spinal contusion, so Mayfield was named the starter for this game. The last time he faced Green Bay was Christmas Day last year, when he threw four interceptions in a 24-22 loss as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
The Packers ranked third in the league in takeaways (26) last year, but they are tied for No. 15 in that category with 15 this year. They have started to get back on track in recent weeks, forcing seven turnovers in their last four games.
“I do think they come in bunches,” Rasul Douglas said. “I just think we’re being more aggressive as a team and we’re all on the same page with what we’ve got going on.”
Green Bay lost seven games in an eight-game stretch from early October to late November, but the Packers bounced back with their 28-19 win at Chicago before having the week off last week. They will play three of their final four games at home, giving them an outside shot to make the playoffs.
Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson has eight touchdowns in his last four games, making him the second rookie wideout in league history to score eight touchdowns in four games. Two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers has thrown nine interceptions this year, marking the most he has had in a season since 2010. Rodgers completed 18 of 31 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown against Chicago.
The Rams have been phenomenal under the lights in the past decade, covering the spread in 16 of their last 22 primetime games. They have also gone 6-0 ATS in their last six December games, while Green Bay has only covered three times in its last 10 contests. Los Angeles has gone ‘under’ in 10 of its last 15 games, including five of its last six on the road.
The pick: Green Bay -7 (-120, buying half-point)
This spread has dropped far enough down where I can no longer justify taking the Rams in a brutal scheduling spot. They are a warm-weather dome team that is going on the road to the frozen tundra, and they have essentially no shot at making the playoffs, so it is tough to see them hanging around on Monday night. Green Bay has had an extra week to prepare for this game, which makes another Baker miracle seem unlikely, especially considering his brutal performance at Lambeau last Christmas. The Packers’ schedule is favorable down the stretch, so I expect them to come out motivated and confident following their bye week. They have won 13 straight games in the month of December—Rodgers is rarely denied at home in this type of game.