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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks: 5 Things to Know

The Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers this weekend to determine which team will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Both teams finished in the top of the League this year despite injury struggles and immensely competitive divisions. Looking forward to their matchup, here are five things that you should know heading into the NFC Championship.

1) They have a history

The Green Bay Packers currently own the lead in the head-to-head matchup with the Seattle Seahawks with 10 wins and 7 losses. Though, Seattle has been the team to come out on top in each of their last two meetings in 2012 and earlier this 2014 season bringing the Packers road record versus the Seahawks to 2-4 in this span.

When the two met for their first time in week one this season, the Packers offense was slowed by injuries, as they lost starting running back Eddie Lacy to a concussion and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga with a knee injury. While it was a disappointing first game for the Packers; the Seahawks, who won 36-16, were firing on all cylinders.

Approaching this weekends game injuries are again a concern for the Packers as Aaron Rodgers is clearly discomforted by his calf injury. Looking past Rodgers injury for the Packers and the recent loss of rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson for the Seahawks the two teams look fairly healthy heading into the Championship. Seattle recently saw the return of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, center Max Unger, and defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs.

2) The Home field advantage

Seattle is one of the toughest stadiums to play in for away teams due to the boisterous 12's. The combination of a hostile enviornment and field noise at the line; where quarterbacks attmept to recongnize, relay, and exploit the defensive formation, adds another layer of complexity to preparing for and executing against a strong Seahawks defense.

While the Packers finished with a 12-4 regular season record, all four loses came on the road. During their eight Road games the Packers scored a total of 168 points, an average of 21 points per game. This can be concerning from the Packers perspective as their home average was 39.75 points per game, nearly double.

The Seahwaks finished with a 7-1 record at home (their only loss was to the Cowboys) where they allowed a total of 123 points, or about 15 points per game. More recently, they have given up only 33 points over their last four home games, including their playoff win over the Panthers.

3) The Packers offense can challenge their defense

Despite being unhealthy for much of the season, the Seahawks defense was dominate. They have not faced many elite offenses though. Besides the Packers in week 1, the only two offenses that were considered threatening were the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos. 

Since the week 6 game against the Cowboys was the last real offensive challenge for the Seahawks, the Packers may find themselves at an advantage by catching them offguard. Coincidentally enough, the very Dallas Cowboys, whom the Packers just defeated to advance to the NFC Championship, may have shown the league the blueprint for beating Seattle, in Seattle. How you might ask? On the legs of their stud running back. 

How effectively the Packers are able to attack Seattle is going to determine the outcome. If they are able to run the ball with Eddie Lacy and keep the patient Seattle offense on the sidelines, then maybe they can push them into an uncharactaristic desperation mode. 

4) The Legion of Boom vs. Nelson, Cobb, Adams

The most dangerous part of the Packers offense is clearly Aaron Rodgers and how he can utilize his weapons to overwhlem their opponent. With both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb being known as big-play makers, one if not both of them will be made a priority by Seattle. Divisional round hero DeVante Adams may be the difference maker for the Packers offense, as he can provide a third receiving outlet for Rodgers if Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Byron Maxwell lockdown his other two receivers. Seattle ranked first in the NFL in passing yards allowed at only 185 yards per game, where the Packers ranked 8th in offense at 266.

The Legion of Boom, as the secondary is know in Seattle, has the personnel to matchup very well with the Packers offense. A repeat of their week 1 victory is very possible if they are able to contain Eddie Lacy again and keep pressure on the injured and less-mobile Aaron Rodgers. Last contest, Rodgers avoided throwing at Sherman at all costs. He typically plays strictly on the right side of the field, so to avoid the potential of Sherman locking down one of the Rodger's two main targets, the Packers will need to be creative in moving their routes around to avoid him. Though Playmakers such as linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Kam Chancellor are still defensive threats as well.

5) The run game may determine the outcome

No matter what side your rooting for this weekend, you will be sure to see a lot of running of the football. Maintaining dominance over time of posession is how each team will look to neutralize the others offensive effectiveness. Just as Dallas was successful in utilizng Demarco Murray to slowly beat down the Seahawks in week 6, Eddie Lacy will be relied upon heavily to sustain drives and force the Seahawks to provide a safety in run support, which can open up a lot more throwing lanes for Rodgers. 

Likewise, the Seahawks are a running football team. They ranked first in the NFL this year with 172 yards per game. While only allowing 82 yeards to opposing offenses. In the games in which the Seahawks won this year, they averaged 182 yards per game. In their only home loss this season, Dallas held them to just 80.

Greenbay's run defense is not great though, they ranked 23rd in the league this year giving up an average of 117 yards per game. Their defense will need to step up big this week and hope for a repeat performance after holding the Cowboys to just 119 last week. If they are not able to contain both Marshawn Lynch and Russel Wilson, then we could be looking at a shootout.

The Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers at 3:05pm this Sunday for the NFC Championship game. These were 5 things that I thought you should know heading into the matchup, which is sure to be an exciting one. While the Seahawks are currenly favored in this matchup, I think Green Bay will keep it close and constantly competetive.

My prediction: Seahawks win by a fieldgoal.

If you disagree or have anything to add to my 5 things let me know in the comments below!




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