NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Preview

Marshawn LynchSince the first week of the 2014 NFL season, all the Green Bay Packers wanted was a rematch against the Seattle Seahawks. Now with the NFC Championship on the line they have their wish (3.05pm EST, Sunday).

Just like it always has, the opening game of the season took place at the home of the Super Bowl winner. This year, that was CenturyLink Field in Seattle and the opposing team, by luck of the scheduling draw, was the Packers.

The defending champs picked up right where they left off last year by scoring 22 points in the first half of the game. The defense allowed the Packers just 10 first half points and just 16 total in the game. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch (pictured) had two touchdowns apiece while Aaron Rodgers was held to just 189 yards and one touchdown. The final score was a 36-16 win by the Seahawks, showcasing a changing of the guard of sorts in the NFC.

Having perhaps the toughest schedule in the league, the Seahawks followed their opening day win with a loss to the San Diego Chargers and then an overtime win in the Super Bowl rematch against the Denver Broncos. Then came the early bye and a 1-2 record followed.

Seattle’s 3-3 record to begin the year, coupled with an early loss at home, was a far cry from the team that completely dominated each of its opponents en route to the title. As a result, there was due criticism of the team, the coach and the players. At that point, it was a stretch to see the Seahawks even make the playoffs, let alone be the favorites to reach their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Green Bay meanwhile opened the year with a 1-2 record and a quarterback who was off to a slow start. But once Rodgers told the city and the state of Wisconsin to “R-E-L-A-X,” things started to turn around. The Packers finished the year undefeated at home and once again won the NFC North. Just like the Seahawks, they lost only four games on the year.

Rodgers, Wilson and all the Weapons in the World

There is no denying that Rodgers and Wilson are two of the best in the game and they have the stats to prove it. A 112.2 RAT (2nd in NFL), 4,381 yards (7th) and 38 TD (3rd) for Rodgers has many making his case for MVP. Meanwhile, the dual-threat Wilson had a career best six rushing touchdowns in 2014, along with 3,475 yards and seven interceptions, also career bests.

While Wilson and Rodgers have operated on different strengths over the course of their careers, both have a few things in common too. One of these is the fact that neither quarterback is without his fair share of offensive targets.

Let’s start with the tandem of Wilson and Willson or if you’d prefer, that of Rodgers and Rodgers.

Okay yes, its gimmicky but there was no way I could talk about these two teams and these two quarterbacks without mentioning their tight ends of essentially the same names.

As far as weapons go, Richard Rodgers and that Luke Willson are nowhere near favorites of their quarterbacks by the same name. That said, both have been beneficial in red zone packages and both have made some pretty big plays this year with the game on the line. Neither Willson or Rodgers may be the best tight ends in the game, but come Sunday, it would be surprising if either or both of them, didn’t make at least one big, important play.

So now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the real and quite dangerous weapons both of these guys have.

Stopping Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Now Davante Adams

It was hard enough trying to stop the 8th best passing offense of the Green Bay Packers when it was just Nelson and Cobb, but now that Rodgers has been looking the way of his rookie wide-out as well, it is near impossible.

The biggest issue for teams is that even if one or two of those guys is taken out of the game, there is really no way to prevent all three from putting up big numbers. After all, you can’t double team everybody. The Dallas Cowboys learned this the hard way as even though their coverage on Nelson yielded positive results (just two catches for 22 yards), the inability to double Cobb led to the receiver recording 116 yards on eight receptions. Additionally, Adams had his breakout game with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Both he and Cobb were targeted 11 times.

Now, Seattle does have a much better passing defense than Dallas. Their “Legion of Boom” is exactly what a team needs to slow down the Packers offense. Seattle is in the unique position of being able to single cover each of Green Bay’s top guns and to do so without giving up anything defensively.

That said, the matchups to watch on Sunday will come down to which feared threesome comes out on top. Will it be the Legion of Boom of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas or the law firm of Adams, Cobb and Nelson?

There’s Beast and then There’s Beast Mode

On the offensive side of the ball for Seattle is their number one besides Wilson, Marshawn Lynch. Simply, he goes by Beast Mode.

Because of Wilson’s ability to extend and in some cases, make plays with his legs, the additional presence of Lynch just gives opposing defenses headaches. Lynch is a playmaker as well and has been a postseason juggernaut in his career. This year, he carried the ball just 14 times in Seattle’s only other game against the Carolina Panthers, and did so while recording 59 yards.

Now, those were a far cry from the typical numbers put up by Beast Mode and the top ranked rushing attack in the NFL but given the state of the game and the strength of the opposing team’s rushing defense, it wasn’t that surprising to see a down effort. Against the Packers’ 23rd ranked rushing defense on the other hand, a team Lynch has been carving up for huge chunks of yards for a few years now, the matchup is entirely favorable.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Preview Betting Picks

It’s home sweet home for the Seahawks and even though the team wasn’t perfect in Seattle this year doesn’t mean it is any less of an advantage. With the exception of the loss to Dallas, the Seahawks were dominant at CenturyLink this year and that has continued into the postseason.

Green Bay is one of the toughest teams the Seahawks have faced since the early weeks of the year but even with their weapons, it likely won’t be enough. Aaron Rodgers is a little banged up and while Dallas’ pass rush wasn’t able to take advantage of that, Seattle’s top rated passing defense in the league, likely will.

  • So in the end, take the Seahawks to make a second straight trip to the title game. However for my preview’s betting pick I am not going with the favorites as I expect it to be close. The Seahawks may just win but I like the Packers +7.5pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada Sportsbook on the spread.
  • As for the total points in the game, it is low at 46. Teams don’t tend to score with the presence of the 12th Man and the Seahawks only gave up 16 points in their final three home games. But none of them were against an offense like Green Bay. Take the over 46 total points with 5Dimes Sportsbook @ -110 betting odds.
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