The legend and the kid: Rodgers and Goff go to battle

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Future Hall of Famer and current Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is flying into Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon as a rare underdog. He will enter the Coliseum on the heels of yet another comeback win in Week 6 against the 49ers, along with a lingering injury that has impacted his typically superior production.

The push and pull of Rodgers’ spectacular performances and the volatility of his leg injury have impacted the Packers’ flow this season, as they have managed to both make head-scratching decisions and show tangible promise simultaneously. At 3-2-1, the legend will lead his soldiers against the LA Rams and third-year quarterback Jared Goff, whose team is absolutely flying at the moment.

Both Cal alumni, Rodgers and Goff go head to head for the first time in their vastly different careers as two of the premier players in the National Football League. Rodgers was selected 24th overall in the 2005 NFL draft after leading Cal to a 10-1 record, top-five finish and a Holiday Bowl appearance in his junior season.

Goff made an immediate impact for the Bears as a true freshman. In 2013, he broke five Cal single-season passing records despite the team going 1-11. He would continue to break his own records in subsequent seasons and eventually became the number one pick in the 2016 draft.

Fast forward to Sunday, both quarterbacks look to inch closer to a playoff spot in a league that they have adapted to quite nicely. Vegas thinks Goff’s Rams are 9.5 points better than Rodgers in an assessment that has turned some heads this week, as Rodgers’ mobility and decision making down the stretch should not be overlooked.

Earning a 7-0 record for the first time since 1985, the Rams are more talented than the Pack at nearly every position, not to belittle the resurgence of the Green Bay’s defensive front and wide receiving core as the season has progressed. Goff has thrown two more touchdown passes than Rodgers with 14, scoring at will with several receivers making an impact.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the league in sacks after adding four more against the 49ers, nearly outplaying his teammate across the line of scrimmage, running back Todd Gurley, who leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns this season. With an unmatched supporting cast and reigning NFL Coach of the Year Sean McVay calling the shots, Goff is in pole position to continue his best season yet.

The Packers nevertheless have dominated their recent matchups with the Rams — winning five consecutive games and 12 of the last 16. The State Farm spokesperson is undefeated against the Rams in his career (4-0) while head coach Mike McCarthy has only lost once in six meetings.

Green Bay’s running game this season, however, has been nonexistent, forcing Rodgers to rely on his arm and his knee brace to carry the Pack over the hump. With the Rams owning a hot streak and home-field advantage this Sunday, there is substantial doubt that Green Bay can pull out a win in Los Angeles.

Neither Rodgers nor McCarthy has faced 2018’s Rams team, which has as much depth and ability as ever. Expect Goff and McVay to not only outsmart the Packers and dominate the ball offensively but also pull away from Green Bay late in the game and keep their hopes of an undefeated season alive.

Spencer Golanka writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].