Packers at Rams -- Week 7

Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis (artificial turf)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Spread: Packers by 5

Records: Packers (Overall: 3-3, NFC North 1-0); Rams (Overall: 3-3, NFC West: 2-0)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Oct. 16, 2011: Packers 24, Rams 3. Sept. 27, 2009: Packers 36, Rams 17. Series record: Rams lead 45-43-2.

What matters: The Packers need back-to-back wins. After their biggest victory of the season last week at Houston, Green Bay can end its three-game road swing and return home with a two-game winning streak if it beats St. Louis. Coach Mike McCarthy and his players talked all week about “stacking success” and building off the win over the Texans. The Packers have alternated losses and wins the first six games of the season. The offense scored 42 points last week with 427 yards, including 338 passing from QB Aaron Rodgers. But the Rams’ fifth-ranked pass defense is no cakewalk, and the Packers will need to continue to utilize the offensive balance they’ve emphasized the past couple of weeks.

Who matters: Rodgers, as always, since the offense goes as he goes, and the Packers go as the offense goes. He had his best game of the season last week, silencing critics and reminding everyone why Green Bay set league and franchise passing records in 2011. RB Alex Green, who’s replacing injured veteran Cedric Benson (foot) and providing the running attack for that much-needed balance, has earned McCarthy’s praise and his second consecutive start. On defense, more than likely the Packers could have three new players starting due to injuries suffered against the Texans. ILB D.J. Smith (knee) has been placed on IR; his replacement is versatile fourth-year veteran Brad Jones, who sounded confident and ready during the week. Rookie OLB Nick Perry (knee) and third-year CB Sam Shields (shin) are out. They’ll be replaced by 2011 starter Erik Walden and rookie sensation Casey Hayward (two INTs last week), respectively.

Key matchups: The Packers' offensive line and wide receivers, which are key to Rodgers getting in a groove, against the Rams' defensive line and cornerbacks. Green Bay’s line, coming off one of its best performances of the year against the Texans, will face yet another fearsome pass-rushing duo off the edge in DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who’ve combined for 10 sacks. LT Marshall Newhouse is quietly having an excellent season as a pass blocker, who’s ranked fifth among NFL OTs in pass blocking efficiency, a statistic kept by Pro Football Focus. He and RT Bryan Bulaga, who’s been much better since his Week 3 debacle against Seattle, will need to be in top form. The Packers' receivers also have a tough test, going against Rams CBs Cortland Finnegan (three INTs) and rookie Janoris Jenkins, that are physical, athletic and talented. WRs James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb need to get off the line, get open and keep their cool downfield, especially in the absence of injured WR Greg Jennings (groin).

Injuries of note: Jennings (groin), Perry (knee), Shields (shin) and NT B.J. Raji (ankle)  are out for Sunday’s game. TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder), who McCarthy went out of his way to praise for even playing last week against the Texans, has been limited all week but is probable.

Inside stuff: Cobb is not really a secret anymore. The dynamic receiver/returner has proven a dangerous playmaker on offense and special teams and is someone opponents game-plan to stop. What isn’t as widely known is the fondness for and trust in Cobb that Rodgers has. On his weekly radio ESPN Milwaukee radio show and again in the locker room, Rodgers heaped praise on Cobb, calling him mature, classy and confident. Rodgers said he appreciated how Cobb, a former high school and early college QB, saw the game through a quarterback’s eyes and knew how to get open. Cobb said his chemistry with Rodgers has grown enormously. The two have hooked up 29 times for 346 yards and a touchdown. Last week, Cobb had seven catches for 102 yards, and Rodgers said, “That’s not going to be his last 100-yard game, I can tell you that much. He’s a big-time player.” With the Rams’ top two CBs covering Nelson and Jones, look for Cobb, who plays in the slot, the backfield, anywhere, to be oft-targeted Sunday.

Connections: Rams C Scott Wells , on temporary injured reserve, played for the Packers for eight seasons before signing with St. Louis this offseason. … Packers DE Ryan Pickett was a Rams 2001 first-round pick and played his first five seasons in St. Louis.

Stats you should know: For all the consternation about Rodgers and the Packers' offense being inconsistent and not looking like its 2011 self, Rodgers this week is in a familiar place atop the NFL’s leaders for passer rating at 105.4. … The Packers lead the league in red-zone efficiency (77.8 percent), and the Rams rank 29th (35.7 percent). … Green Bay (sixth, with 44) and St. Louis (seventh, with 43) are among the NFL’s most penalized teams. The Packers are second in penalty yards with 441.

Looking ahead: Sunday’s game ends a three-week trip road stretch for the Packers. After returning from St. Louis, Green Bay stays home for three weeks, with a Week 8 game against Jacksonville, followed by Arizona and then a Week 10 bye. The Packers want to head into their bye 6-3 and head out of it much healthier.

Prediction: Packers 31, Rams 16

Follow Packers reporter James Carlton on Twitter: @CBSPackers and @jimmycarlton88.