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Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams: 3 things to watch

4:31 PM, Oct. 20, 2012  |  Comments
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is taken down by St. Louis Rams defense during the second half of their Oct. 14 game in Miami.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is taken down by St. Louis Rams defense during the second half of their Oct. 14 game in Miami.
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1. St. Louis has some serious limitations on offense, but the Rams have the kind of defensive personnel that has given the big-play Packers' offense some problems going back to late last season.

Their defensive ends, Chris Long and 2011 first-round pick Robert Quinn (six sacks this season), aren't elite rushers, but they're good ones. If first-round pick Michael Brockers can get some push on the inside, the Rams' rush might be good enough to get decent pressure without excessive blitzing.

They also have good cover men in Cortland Finnegan, who is one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL, and second-round pick Janoris Jenkins, an impressive talent with reliability issues. So the Rams might be able to protect against the big play by keeping both safeties deep but still put pressure Aaron Rodgers and have a shot at disrupting the timing of the Packers' receivers. That's a maybe, because Rodgers and his receivers will be in their favorite setting: indoors and on fast turf.

2. The Rams have one of the NFL's worst offensive lines, so the Packers should have a huge edge even without defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who's out for the second straight game because a sprained ankle.

The Rams are missing their two best offensive lineman, former Packers center Scott Wells (broken foot) and left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), who are expected back later this season.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews should have a highly favorable match-up, especially if Saffold's backup, Wayne Hunter, doesn't play because of a back injury. He's listed as questionable. Joe Barksdale, claimed on waivers two weeks ago, probably will start if Hunter can't.

Left guard Quinn Ojinnaka is the weakest link, so look for inside rushers Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal to try to exploit him. If the Rams' line doesn't hold up, this could get ugly.

3. The Rams have maybe the most dangerous kicking weapon in the league in rookie Steve Zuerlein. In training camp he regularly hit from 60 yards, and last week his potential game-tying kick from 66 yards had plenty of distance but missed just wide left.

If the game's close at the end, he'd have a shot from 70 yards on in.

"I think (Oakland's) Sebastian Janikowski has had the strongest leg that's been a regular (in the league)," said Shawn Slocum, the Packers' special teams coach. "But Zuerlein is strong. The ball jumps off his foot."

- pdougher@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.

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