What a Year

The Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams both finished 8-8 last season, narrowly missing out on the final NFC playoff spot.

But this year, their seasons have turned out about as differently as possible, a contrast which will be on display when the Packers visit the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Green Bay -10 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 44.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Green Bay -10 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Green Bay (11-2), already the NFC North champion, will look to extend its best start since 1966 and move closer to a first-round playoff bye, while St. Louis (3-10) hopes to continue to pick up the pieces after an 0-8 start and gain momentum for next season.

The last time the Packers started 11-2 - in 1966 - Vince Lombardi was leading them to a win in the first Super Bowl and Brett Favre hadn't been born yet.

Few expected such an historic season in 2007. The Packers hadn't even had a winning season since 2004, and the 38-year-old Favre considered retirement last spring after throwing 38 touchdowns and 47 interceptions over the previous two years.

Instead, he's posting his best passer rating (98.7) since 1995, as the Packers have clinched their first division title in three years. If Green Bay can get one more win, it would be the fifth 12-win season for Favre in his 16-year-career.

"I don't know if too many people gave us a shot to be at this position," Favre said. "It says a lot about this team. I'm feeling good about my decision to come back, obviously."

Favre has a chance to break another NFL passing record this week, needing just 184 yards to surpass Dan Marino's all-time mark for career passing yards (61,361). He already broke Marino's record for passing touchdowns with his 421st in Week 4.

The Packers can also clinch a first-round bye for the first time since 1997 with a win and a Seattle loss or tie.

Last week, Favre made his 250th consecutive start against Oakland despite shoulder and elbow injuries and threw for 266 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 38-7 win to clinch the NFC North. Favre had missed most of the previous game, a 37-27 loss to Dallas, after suffering the injuries in the second quarter.

But last week's star for Green Bay was undrafted rookie running back Ryan Grant, who rushed for a career-high 156 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging 111.6 yards over his last five contests.

"I can't say enough about Ryan Grant," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think he's really coming into his own."

The Rams might have said the same of their team before last week's 19-10 loss at Cincinnati. St. Louis had won three of four following a dismal 0-8 start, but with quarterbacks Marc Bulger (concussion) and Gus Frerotte (shoulder) shelved with injuries, practice squad QB Brock Berlin made his first career start after running the offense for just one day of practice.

Berlin was 17-for-28 for 153 yards and an interception as St. Louis mustered just 241 yards of total offense.

Bulger practiced Wednesday, but the team won't name him the starter for Sunday's game unless he practices Thursday and Friday without incident.

"I thought he looked fine,'' Rams coach Scott Linehan said Wednesday. "More importantly, it's how he gets through the week."

St. Louis' front office gave Linehan, a second-year coach, a vote of confidence despite the team's disappointing season. The Rams have lost five of six at home.

Linehan's club has been beset by injuries, losing all four games without star running back Steven Jackson (groin and back injuries) and missing Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace (torn rotator cuff) since Week 1. Jackson is now healthy and has at least 90 rushing yards in each of his last four games, but Bulger has missed two of those.

"I felt the last month or so that the obstacles were somewhat insurmountable for him," team president John Shaw said of Linehan. "From the first game the offensive line was a mess, and then Marc and Steven got hurt."

The tough times have extended even to the owner's booth. Georgia Frontiere, 80, who moved the Rams from Anaheim, Calif., to St. Louis in 1995, and has run the franchise since her husband Carroll Rosenbloom died in 1979, was hospitalized this week with an undisclosed illness.

These teams have split six regular-season meetings since the Rams' move. Last season, the Rams held on to beat Green Bay 23-20 at Lambeau Field as Favre fumbled at the St. Louis 11-yard line in the final minute.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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