The last team in the conference championship games will be decided Sunday night when the Seattle Seahawks travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are listed as four-point favorites at home, with an over/under of 46.5 points.
The Seahawks slumped down the stretch, losing three of their last four games, which cost them the NFC West crown. However, they got back on the winning side of things in the Wild Card round after making the cross-country journey to Philadelphia.
It wasn’t the most convincing win, but it gives Seattle a chance to earn another road win against Green Bay, a team they are meeting for the seventh time in the last six seasons.
As for the Packers, they earned a first-round playoff bye after ending the regular season on a five-game winning streak to get them to 13-3. Most of Green Bay’s wins this year were in close games, including against some of the weaker teams in the NFL. But the Packers almost always found a way to win, especially at Lambeau Field, where they were 7-1.
A Step Up
It’s no secret that the Seahawks benefited last week from Carson Wentz getting knocked out of the game after just three pass attempts. The Seattle defense had it a little easier with Josh McCown in the game. But they won’t have the same luck this week with Aaron Rodgers leading the Green Bay offense.
For what it’s worth, Rodgers didn’t look like himself late in the season, but he will have his full complement of receivers available, including Davante Adams, who is a huge step up from the depleted set of receivers the Seahawks faced last week in Philadelphia.
In addition to Rodgers, the Seahawks should be concerned with the Green Bay rushing attack. The Seattle defense ranked near the bottom of the NFL at defending the run this season. While he was a little up and down this year, Aaron Jones has proven himself capable of exploiting bad defensive teams.
He also ran for at least 100 yards in three of his last four games, collecting five rushing touchdowns during that span. Jones could be a surprising focal point for the Green Bay offense.
Not The Same
The rushing attack that carried Seattle for large stretches of the regular season looks different after a series of late-season injuries. Against the Eagles, Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch combined for just 19 yards on 17 carries. Lynch, in particular, hasn’t found a rhythm after not playing at all until Week 17.
A lack of a running game is a problem that could have serious consequences at this point in the season.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson came through for them, throwing for over 300 yards against the Eagles. Wilson is able to hide some of the deficiencies on the Seattle offense, including a problematic offensive line. He also has a pair of big-play receivers in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf who could create problems for a Green Bay secondary that gave up a lot of explosive plays this season.
It’s never easy to go into Lambeau and win in January, and that will hold true in this game. The Packers are more apt to run the ball effectively in the cold weather.
The tandem of Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith will also keep Wilson busy and the Seattle offense under wraps. Bet on the Packers to win and cover the four-point spread at home.