Packers Biggest Underdogs of Aaron Rodgers Era in Week 8 vs Rams
While the NFL is known for its parity when compared to other sports, there are still certain teams that seem to remain head-and-shoulders above the competition. These teams tend to have at least one thing in common: a generational quarterback. We saw the Indianapolis Colts thrive for years with Peyton Manning at the helm, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots have been beacons of success for over a decade now with Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady at the helms of their respective clubs.
Another team we can lump into that group is the Green Bay Packers. Incredibly, the Packers’ run of success seems to date back into the early-90s when Brett Favre came out of nowhere to become one of the most decorated players in the history of the league. Green Bay’s success has continued in the post-Favre era thanks in most part to his successor, Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers have made the playoffs in 8 of Rodgers’ 10 seasons as a starter. The lone exceptions were 2008, Rodgers’ first season as the starter, and 2017, a season in which Rodgers played in just 7 games due to a broken collarbone. The run includes just one Super Bowl title, but the Packers are among the odds-on favorites to win it all every year. Rodgers’ sustained success is the main reason for that.
Green Bay has gotten off to a rather inconsistent 3-2-1 start to the 2018-19 campaign. Rodgers has managed to play in every game despite suffering a scary-looking injury in Week 1 against the Bears. However, in Week 8 Vegas oddsmakers believe Rodgers’ Packers will be facing their toughest uphill climb since the former Cal Bear was installed as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.
Green Bay will travel to Los Angeles to take on the NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten team, the Rams, on Sunday. The Rams will enter the game with a perfect 7-0 record, and oddsmakers aren’t giving the Packers much of a shot. The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has the Rams opening as 8 ½-point favorites, which is the largest spread Rodgers will have faced as an underdog in his NFL career to this point.
Can the Pack pull the upset? Or will the Rams run their record to 8-0?
Betting Value on the Packers
An 8 ½-point spread isn’t the largest we’ve seen in the NFL this season by any means, but it’s still a pretty hefty number. It’s honestly just weird seeing the Packers sitting there at +8 ½, but it’s tough to argue against it. The Rams have been steamrolling their way through their schedule looking like a well-oiled juggernaut on both sides of the ball. The Packers, meanwhile, have been pretty up-and-down amid a number of injuries to key players. Vegas’ pessimism regarding the Packers’ chances is understandable.
The biggest spread Rodgers has ever faced as an underdog to this point was an 8-point spread at Seattle back in 2014. Green Bay was also a 7-point underdog against the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, a 6-point underdog to the New York Jets in 2010 and a 5 ½-point ‘dog against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. The Jets game was the only regular season game among them, and the Packers actually wound up covering the spread and winning the game outright by a final score of 9-0. Interestingly enough, Green Bay would go on to win the Super Bowl that season.
The Packers lost the 2015 Arizona game in overtime. They were also beaten by the Seahawks in the aforementioned 2014 affair, and the Falcons won the NFC Championship Game over Green Bay in 2016.
Assuming the spread remains about the same all week long, you will be able to bet on the Packers to win the game outright at a number between +380 and +400 on the moneyline. You don’t need me to tell you that that is crazy betting value for an Aaron Rodgers-led team. Do favorites typically win? Of course. But if you’re betting on a +400 underdog, you can do a lot worse than betting on a +400 underdog that happens to have Aaron Rodgers leading the way.
The Mighty Rams
The Rams were built for this. Head coach Sean McVay wasted no time in turning the team from a total afterthought to a legitimate contender in his first season. In Year 1 of the McVay era, the Rams improved their record from 4-12 to 11-5. L.A. won the NFC West before losing at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card round. Perhaps most impressively, McVay transformed what had been a putrid offense to arguably the best in the league in just one season. The Rams averaged 14 points per game under Jeff Fisher in 2016, which was the lowest mark in football. The 2017 Rams averaged 29.9 points per game, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
This season, they’re even better. The Rams were aggressive in the offseason in terms of player personnel. L.A. went out and got players like Brandin Cooks, Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to boost what was already a strong roster. Mix in another year of experience for youngsters like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald and this is the result.
It’s not like the Rams came out of nowhere, either. Los Angeles has actually been favored by at least 6 ½ points in every single game so far this season. They have gone 4-2-1 against the spread to this point. One of the covers came in Week 7 when they whipped the 49ers 39-10 in San Francisco after entering the game as 10-point favorites.
For what it’s worth, the Packers have gone 2-4 against the spread so far this season. This will be the third time Green Bay will enter a game as underdogs. The Packers were listed as underdogs against the Vikings and Lions earlier this season. The Minnesota game ended in a tie, while the Packers were beaten in Detroit by the Lions.
While Vegas seems pretty confident in McVay’s crew to advance to 8-0 this week, it’s worth taking a gander at the implied total here. Oddsmakers have the over/under here set at 56 ½ points as of this writing, which is the highest on the Week 8 slate. Only the Chiefs-Broncos game in Kansas City, the Bucs-Bengals game in Cincinnati and the potential Vikings-Saints shootout in New Orleans come particularly close.
Despite a lingering knee injury and the fact that the Packers have been without some combination of Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allen over the last few games, Green Bay has still been pretty solid offensively. The team has also essentially used a timeshare at running back between Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. In spite of it all, the Packers still rank fourth in the league in total offensive yards per game (421), and they’re 16th in points per game (24.7). Green Bay has been held under 20 points just once through the first 6 games.
One thing that should help the Packers here is that they’re coming off a bye. Mike McCarthy and the Packer coaching staff will have essentially had 2 weeks to prepare to battle the league’s most imposing team. Giving Rodgers a week off to try and rest his aforementioned knee issue can’t hurt matters, either. Cobb and Allison may also return to action this week, so Rodgers won’t have to continue to rely heavily on unproven youngsters like J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the passing game. Cobb and Allison should rejoin Davante Adams in the starting unit.
High totals are nothing new to the Rams. Unless something unfortunate happens to Goff or Gurley, we can expect games involving the Rams to come with hefty totals on a weekly basis. Of course, most of that is coming from the Rams’ side. Los Angeles has scored at least 23 points in every game this season, and they have topped the 30-point plateau 6 times through 7 weeks. Here is how many total points have been scored in each of their first 7 games: 46, 34, 58, 64, 43, 49. The lowest combined total came in Week 2 when the Cardinals didn’t hold up their end of the bargain in a lopsided 34-0 Los Angeles victory.
While I don’t think the Packers really have what it takes defensively to stop the Rams, I do think Green Bay can do some things offensively in this one. The Los Angeles defense is stacked, but they will still give up some points, especially if the offense has the Rams out to an early lead. The Rams’ 3 toughest opponents to this point have been the Chargers, Vikings and Seahawks. All 3 of those games hit the over. I think the Packers can give them a test, so I think hitting the over on 56 ½ is a reasonable bet here.
How to Bet
The value on the Packers at +8 ½ speaks for itself. If anybody can march into Los Angeles and give the mighty Rams a test, why couldn’t it be Aaron Rodgers, arguably the greatest quarterback of his generation? We saw the Seahawks and Vikings mount serious threats to L.A.’s unblemished record earlier this season in entertaining shootouts. Both wound up falling short, but I do think there is merit to taking a flier bet on Green Bay to cover 8 ½. That’s just too big a number.
For those looking to jump straight into the betting action for Week 8, here are the top sites we recommend:
On the flip side, this is still the Rams we’re talking about. They have had little issue in getting past the also-rans on their schedule to this point, and a struggling team like the Packers could easily get blown out here on the road. I certainly don’t feel all that comfortable picking the Rams to lose a home game outright, which gives me pause when entertaining the idea of going with the Packers on the moneyline around +400. At the very best, I think Green Bay can make this a game, but the Rams will ultimately prevail.
I also mentioned previously that I think we have serious shootout potential here, so I like the over on 56 ½ points. I’ll rank the betting options when it comes to Rams-Packers as follows:
- Packers +8 ½
- Over 56 ½ points
- Rams +8 ½
- Packers +400