The LA Rams have historically traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin with a lot more on the line than the outcome of just one football game. Whether for seeding in the NFL Playoffs, a chance to advance in post season competition, or a chance to turn the team around and start the long and treacherous climb back to NFL relevancy, a Rams versus Packers game always seemed to hold fascinating subplots.
Somehow, this year 'feels,' different. The LA Rams (3-5) travel to face the Green Bay Packers (2-5) in a game that cannot even be marketed as a consolation prize. These two teams are both embracing a reset strategy this season, which is the current term for 'rebuild but we don't want to say rebuild,' for NFL teams.
Whether rebuild, reset, or reruns, the Rams and Packers have both separately and respectively dug holes for themselves that this one game cannot fix. For the winner of Week 9, the mathematics of probability will buoy hopes and optimism for fans for at least one or two more weeks. But for the loser?
The loser of this game is firmly entrenched in the Top 10 picks of the 2024 NFL Draft, and depending on the outcome of the other teams in Week 9, could find their Round 1 pick projecting in the Top-5. Why is that so important this early in the 2023 NFL season?
Early draft picks = great prospects or plenty of good picks
Early picks not only have the opportunity to land extremely talented NFL rookies, but a savvy NFL GM can parlay one valuable pick into a host of picks that can accelerate a reset, or rebuild. The Arizona Cardinals traded the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Houston Texans for the:
- 12th overall pick (2023)
- 33rd overal pick (2023)
- 2024 Houston Texans first-round pick
- 2024 Houston Texans second-round pick
Of the two teams in this game, the LA Rams would benefit more from a victory. The Rams at 4-5 heading into their BYE would have the better odds of making a playoff push in the second half of the season. But the Packers have an overwhelming advantage in recent years against the Rams at Lambeau Field.
Still, for a Rams team content to reset the roster in 2023, the Rams would benefit by changing some long standing traditions. Beating the Green Bay Packers in Week 9 and beating the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 would be two great places to start. While just wins in the moment, victories would end a streak of losses, and serve to reset the board.
But if the Rams fall again, and enter the BYE at 3-6, there is a consolation prize. The Rams could end up with or nearly with a Top 5 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. That may not be a great alternative, but it's better than nothing.