Packers XLV

Sherman Gets the Headlines, but Wilson Will be the Difference on Sunday

Posted January 16th, 2015 @ 03:01pm

Let's face it, the Packers will need to be pitch perfect to advance to their second Super Bowl in the McCarthy-Rodgers era. A hobbled Aaron Rodgers is the only reason I don't think the Pack will be able to spring the upset at Century Link Field.

We may spend a long time replaying that Buffalo game and the close calls that almost went  Green Bay's way, that might have meant a victory and home field advantage. But the NFC Title game is in Seattle and for that reason the Pack is a 7 1/2 point underdog.

So let's start with a few statistics to give you a little hope: the Packers are 2-0 in the playoffs against the Seahawks (including the infamous 'We want the ball and we're gonna score' wildcard game in '03). They're 3-2 in NFC title games, including 2-0 on the road (winning in Chicago en route to SB XLV). Then there's this little nugget: the last four times when both conference championship favorites were favored by 7 or more, one team lost the game outright.

OK, feel a little better? Here's the flip side: the Packers have lost seven straight games to winning teams on the road and they've lost the last seven times they were an underdog.

So, back to reality. We've never seen a more dominant home team than the Seahawks. They're 25-2 at home since '12, winning by an average of 15 points per game. And their defense is on an historic pace, giving up just 6.5 points per game over their last six regular season games.

So here come the Packers, looking a lot different than they did in the opener, when they were unprepared for the noise, the atmosphere and the speed of the 'Hawks' defense, not to mention stopping the run--giving up 207 on the ground. That game featured three rookies on offense for the Pack, most notably Corey Linsley, who was snapping the ball to Rodgers for the first time ever in a game of any kind. Richard Rodgers and Davante Adams were also brand new to this NFL thing--all three have become key, dependable parts of the offense.

Defensively, the Pack has come a long way since the opener as well. The run defense has tightened up significantly and is expected to do a much better job corralling Marshawn Lynch. Keeping tabs on Russell Wilson is an entirely different story. The league's best running QB this season will likely give the Packers fits. He has an uncanny ability to make the proper read, knows when to run, when to slide and when to take his losses and move on to the next play. He has the fewest weapons around him in the league but it doesn't matter because he is so, so good.

Of course he doesn't have Percy Harvin this time around. Harvin put up more than 100 yards on the Pack in the opener. He is also without emerging rookie receiver Paul Richardson, the team's kickoff returner, who injured his knee last week. Wilson's top three receivers are underrated guys and his tight end Luke Willson was a late draft pick. He was Wilson's top target in the win over the Panthers.

The Pack will try to ruffle Wilson by forcing him into rare mistakes and their best chance is with Sunday's birthday boy, Julius Peppers. He was the Pack's defensive star of the game last week and he has a favorable matchup on Sunday against rookie right tackle Justin Britt, who appears in over his head and is dealing with a knee injury.

Like the Packers, the Seahawks rarely give the ball away so the Packers will likely have to rely on the offense to complete long drives and execute in the red zone--which has been a dicey proposition of late. A gimpy Rodgers and a sore-kneed Eddie Lacy makes things a lot tougher, but there are ways to move the ball on the Seahawks.

It starts with running the ball between the tackles. In Seattle's four losses this season, they gave up 132 yards per game on the ground. Green Bay was held to 80 in the opener, but Lacy is a better player and the offensive line is firing much more effectively than they were in the opener. I expect McCarthy to come out throwing and challenge that secondary. Let them know there's no fear and no intimidation this time around.

Much has been made about the Pack's strategy to ignore Richard Sherman's side of the field in the opener. Expect things to change this time around. I wouldn't be surprised to see Davante Adams lined up against Sherman for most of the game (instead of Boykin in week one) and for Rodgers to take some shots. That should also create some favorable opportunities for Nelson and Cobb against corners Byron Maxwell and the shaky Harald Simon (who Cam Newton picked on last week).

If the Pack can mov the ball through the air early, it should open things up for Lacy, who needs to put up at least 125 total yards if the Packers hope to spring the upset. With Rodgers' limited mobility, they need to use Lacy in the screen game and continue to use Cobb as a Harvin-type threat all over the field.

I think this game will be closer than many believe and the Pack will have a chance to spring the upset late. But ultimately, Wilson is the difference. He was perfect on third downs last week (8-8 for 199 with three TDs and no picks) and is just so smart, poised and dangerous that I think he will make a play or two that a limited Rodgers can't match.

Seahawks 27  Packers 24

"Packer Preview" gets two hours on Championship Sunday. We'll be on KFAN and kfan.com from 8am to 10am. 

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Comments (13):

Cautiously optimistic. Third down defense will be key as will the movement of Rogers and the health of Lacy's knee. Pack wins by 3

on January 16th, 2015 at 02:20pm

Spencer--the Boys still ran all over your D for 150 rushing yards. I just think it's funny that THC purposely omitted that from his blog. It's his trademark "selective memory".

on January 16th, 2015 at 02:54pm

Keep Wilson in the pocket - make him beat you with his arm. Keep Lynch in check - he can get his yards, that won't be an issue. Just don't let him score. Keep Sherman guessing. And let Lacy ram it down their throats, early and often. Pack 24, Hawks 17.

on January 16th, 2015 at 03:45pm

Too bad the game sunday doesn't exist. The NFL just decided to restart the Green Bay vs Dallas game at first and goal from the one since Mike McCarthy fucked Roger Goddells asshole to win that game. The Packers wont ever win a super bowl with that cheater Rodgers. In 2010 they didnt even make the playoffs since they lost to the Vikings and Tampa Bay got the 6th seed. Shiancoe's Td was a TD and Quarless was out of bounds therefore the Vikings win 27-24 haha go fuck yourself cheeze bitches

on January 16th, 2015 at 05:24pm

Why did someone give Dale a sharp object to write with? His straight jacket was loosened again and he must have found his box of crayons to scratch out his rant. In my opinion, this run is alot like the Super Bowl run back in 2011. I'm picking the Pack - 31-17!!!!

on January 16th, 2015 at 08:45pm

"The run defense has tightened up significantly and is expected to do a much better job corralling Marshawn Lynch. " So are we ignoring last game? LOL. Murray destroyed the Pack's D as it was and would have gone for 200+ if not for the lucky fumble.

on January 16th, 2015 at 10:11am

First of all....John from San Jose...we love your a Packer fan on this blog....but please spell Rodgers name right !! As to the game: Davy's correct....contain the running of Wilson and Lynch and we can win. Easier said than done. If we can get more offensive plays than Seattle we can win. Easier said than done. If we can win third downs on both sides of ball we can win. Easier said than done. If we can win turnover battle we can win. Easier said than done. All those easier said than dones mean we would have to play the perfect game to win. Okay....but I believe this game will come down to who makes the more big plays....the pick of a key pass, a key fumble, or the long bomb....think Rodgers to Nelson. I think Rodgers is enjoying the underdog role and MM has some plays we have not seen. Think Cobb option pass...he played some QB in college. Why not spring this now?? If we are down by less than 9 points in the second half we will win. Why nine points? Because that is the Rodgers jinx of being 0 and 25 in games we trailed by 9 or more in the second half. GO PACK GO !!

on January 16th, 2015 at 10:21pm

OSSG Very sorry for the type to miss the d, won't happen again. Put a smile on my face because you reminded me of my aunt who always loves to spell check everyone. Go Pack!

on January 16th, 2015 at 10:35pm

"would have gone for 200+" But he didn't. Our D is way better, however, we are fooled by misdirection every time. We still haven't proven we can stop the read option and I don't see us stopping it this time. If we can limit 40 yard bombs on 3rd downs though we may have a shot. That is what killed carolina. I look for Clay to spy wilson on third down. The front seven needs to help out the secondary and make sure they don't have to cover for 8 seconds.

on January 16th, 2015 at 11:08am

Another great Blog, Dave! Not many are giving the Packers a chance at even keeping this game close. With a 7.5 point spread, it is one of the largest spreads against the Packers. I think Aaron will surprise some with his better mobility in this game. It is hard to see the Pack winning, though. The Seahawks team has the same make-up as the other Defensive Teams that have given the Packers problems this year. (See Buffalo & Detroit)

on January 16th, 2015 at 12:43pm

If the Packers don't win it can be fairly said this year's NFC Championship wasn't decided at CenturyLink but in Buffalo last December. Who's favored and who may win this game has as much do towith where it's being played as with whom. Since the Packers have consistently "played down" on the road this season, even when they've won, it may be too much to think they're going to suddenly change now. But they do have a chance and getting to this point is nevertheless a breakthrough for the club. It's reminicscient of the 1995 team that went to San Francisco and upset the then Super Bowl champion 49ers to advance to the title game at Dallas. They lost but won the Super Bowl the next season. What the Pack can't allow, if they are to win on Sunday, is a bad quarter where the game gets away from them in an unraveling sequence of events; like what happened in the third quarter there in the opener. The Packers let a mangeable one score game become a 19 point Seahawks lead off an interception, a safety and a 9 play 53 yd. drive for a td. The game went from 17-10 to 29-10 just like that.

on January 17th, 2015 at 05:26am

well you guys sure seem to ready for this big game. 1st thing I wondered about is if we win the coin toss, does MM take the ball and try and get out to a lead, and take the crowd out of it a little. or defer until 2nd half like he wants to do.I do like the idea OSSG, on Cobb option pass. he will be in backfield a lot in this game. I think MM will spread there D out and go with 4 wr's sets and Lacy and Cobb in backfield. I just hope 3-4 times MM runs a end around or reverse to slow them down some. when a Defense is built on speed do some reverses on them. everything else equal, 12 will be the difference for the Packers. just Don't let wilson get out on those keep options. I still worry about there TE wilson, he will run allover Brad Jones if he guards him. when it's all done Pack wins 31-23.

on January 17th, 2015 at 11:28am

Dave, our team can pull this off. I hope McCarthy show us something we haven't seen all year in play calling when Seattle leasts expects it. And, we need the D to step up big time. Go Pack.

on January 18th, 2015 at 06:38am

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