NFC Divisional Round: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Preview
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs will wrap up on Sunday in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Green Bay Packers will play host to their bitter rival Seattle Seahawks at 6:40 eastern time, live from Lambeau Field. Despite being in different divisions, the rivalry between these two foes is nothing short of enticing. From the “Fail Mary” to the epic NFC Title Game back in 2015. And oh yeah, can’t forget the infamous Matt Hasselbeck guarantee. To add to the excitement of this rivalry, fans get a playoff match-up between elite NFL quarterbacks. It all goes down Sunday afternoon.
The Seahawks qualified for this match-up after escaping a road battle with a 17-9 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round. Their ground game led by “Beast Mode”, Marshawn Lynch, was the difference. According to Coach Pete Carroll, Lynch will have a larger workload against the Packers. Quarterback Russell Wilson had an MVP caliber regular season and continued his surge last week against the Eagles. He completed 18 of 30 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown pass. It was actually only his fourth game of 300+ yards on the season, but it’s his lack of turnovers that have really made the difference for him this season. The Hawks went 7-1 away from Century Link Field and are no strangers to playing in the cold.
Seahawk to Watch- D.K. Metcalf
This rookie wideout quietly had a fantastic season for the Seahawks. D.K. hauled in 58 passes for 900 yards and 7-touchdowns. What did he do for an encore in his playoff debut? Just went off for 160 yards while snagging 7-passes, including one for a touchdown. If this kid can repeat his performance against a Packers defense that ranks 14th in passing yards allowed at 232.6 yards per game, then he will be the key to victory.
The Packers won the NFC North for the first time since 2016. They also qualified for a bye week with a comeback win over the Lions in Week 17. When you think of the leader of this team, Aaron Rodgers comes to mind. However, he wasn’t the only one that led this team to a tie for the second-best record in the NFL at 13-3. It was the other Aaron, Aaron Jones, their elite running back that led this team while Rodgers kind of took a back seat to the running game for once. Aaron Jones finished the regular season with a beastly 16 touchdowns from the line of scrimmage while rushing for 1,084 yards. While there was a significant emphasis on the running game this season, Rodgers had a solid season himself. He threw for 4,002-yards, and 26-touchdown passes.
Packer to Watch- Brian Bulaga
Brian Bulaga cleared concussion protocol on Wednesday, and that’s great news for Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offensive line. If he can stay healthy, that will be key to keeping Rodgers upright the entire game against a feisty Seahawks defense. While I emphasize Bulaga as the key to this game for the Packers, the rest of the offensive line needs to do the job they have all season. A great running game and a mobile Rodgers will not happen if Bulaga and company don’t do what they are supposed to.
Both of these teams love to play in the cold. The Seahawks are 7-1 on the road while the Packers are 7-1 at home, so something has to give. Something about this match-up in the playoffs has the feeling of epic once again. Will time off for Green Bay help them or hurt them? While Seattle is playing great football and hasn’t had a week off since Week 11. Nonetheless, Wilson versus Rodgers for a spot in the NFC Championship definitely shouldn’t disappoint. I give the slight edge to the Packers since the game is being played at the Frozen Tundra, 24-21.