Tagged in: host

Packers host Rams with NFC championship game berth at stake

No NFL team scored more points during the regular season than the Green Bay Packers. Nobody has played better defense than the Los Angeles Rams.

That sets up an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength when MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) host All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams (11-6) in an NFC divisional playoff match Saturday.

“This is what you love,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “These are the type of matchups and opportunities that as a competitor, you can’t wait for.”

Both of these units are at the top of their game.

The Packers have won six consecutive games and have been held below 22 points just once all campaign. Los Angeles got to this point by sacking Russell Wilson five times in a 30-20 triumph at Seattle last week.

“They went to Seattle, played a familiar opponent and played really, really well, and they’re coming in with the confidence that they should have,” Rodgers said. “And we’re coming in with confidence as well, the season that we’ve had and what we believe we’re capable of.”

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Rodgers has set franchise single-season records for touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (.707) this year while throwing just five interceptions for an offense scoring 31.8 points per game. Donald calls Rodgers a “great quarterback that’s playing lights out this year.”

Donald leads a defense that permitted the fewest points and yards of any team during the regular season.

“At any time, at any quarter of the game, a different guy could make a big-time play for us,” Donald said. “It’s not just one or two guys. When you’ve got a group of guys – all 11 out there – who are pretty much playmakers who can make that game-changing play at any time, you’ve got a great group.”

This will be the first time the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense and scoring defense have faced off in the postseason since the New England-Atlanta Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017. The Patriots had the top-ranked defense and the Falcons had the No. 1 offense that year.

This also will be the Rams’ first playoff game at Lambeau Field. These two franchises have met in the postseason just twice before, with the Packers winning 28-7 in Milwaukee on Dec. 23, 1967, and the Rams winning 45-17 in St. Louis on Jan. 20, 2002.

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Arizona willing to host all 30 MLB teams at ‘right time’, governor says

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has come out in support of MLB’s potential plan of playing this season primarily in empty spring training ballparks in his state at the time public health concerns authorize.

MLB and the players’ association have discussed starting this campaign with all 30 major league teams based in the Phoenix area, where there are 10 spring training parks plus the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, which has a retractable roof, and several college facilities.

The plan would be contingent upon receiving the go-ahead from federal, state and local governments.

“Arizona, at the right time, is very open-minded to hosting whatever Major League Baseball would like from the state,” Ducey stated on Tuesday.

“At the time it would be appropriate for public health, if Arizona were in a position to reopen, we have the facilities that are here.”

MLB also said Tuesday it is cutting the salary of senior staff by an average of 35% for this year due to the new coronavirus’ impact on the season.

MLB is guaranteeing paychecks to its full-time employees of its central office through May.

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With no clarity on when the shutdown will end, players and staff intently follow the daily developments.

Ducey said he has spoken with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about the all-Arizona option.

“There’s a number of different scenarios,” Ducey said. “I think the first scenario that was talked about was the idea of these clubs coming, being in hotels and in a way, having their own stay-at-home orders whether it either be at the hotel, or inside the stadium, without fans. It’s something that Arizona is open minded to, and I’m open-minded to.”

Many players and staff are worried about the potential of a long absence from family while sequestered.

Minnesota catcher Mitch Garver wondered how the plan would work,

“Where do we live? Who’s allowed to come with us? Are we only allowed to go to the field and back to the hotel? What kind of hotel? What kind of accommodations are we working with? Is there going to be meal money?” he said. “Then you get into player health, and we’re talking about playing in 120 degree weather on spring training fields potentially living out of a visiting locker room.”

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