by Clint Elsemore
Fresh off a taxing win against the Panthers the Seahawks now take on a familiar foe in the Green Bay Packers. The diversity of the running game with Carolina between their option game, Newton’s ability to run, and their three headed attack at running back proved to be challenging for the Hawks last week, but the pass defense stiffened producing two picks – including Chancellor’s pick six game sealer in the fourth quarter.
The Packers do not possess a mobile quarterback due to Rodgers calf injury, and their running game is focused primarily on a larger back in Eddie Lacy, which should make eliminating their running game much easier, but what the Packers may lack in the running game they more than make up for in the passing game. They have the newly crowned MVP in Aaron Rodgers passing to two pro-bowl level receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, along with emerging rookie Devante Adams, and two capable tight ends in Andrew Quarles and rookie Richard Rodgers. They led the league in scoring this year, and were downright dominant in Green Bay where Rodgers failed to throw an interception all year.
On the road however, the Packers proved mortal posting a 4-4 record, and losing to the three most difficult defenses they played on the road in Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit. Their offensive line which is generally solid in pass protection has experienced more trouble on the road leading to increased sacks and pressure, and without time to operate Rodgers has been more mistake prone and less efficient. The Green Bay defense started off the year struggling to defend the run, and has improved recently, but still found it tough to slow down Dallas’ rushing attack last week. They are slightly better than the league average overall, and bring pressure from a variety of formations and personnel led by Julius Peppers. Establishing the run early including the read option with Russell Wilson on keepers will be key to making the Packers rushers and blitzers hesitant and keep them on their heels while taking the pressure off the Seahawks sometimes shaky offensive line.
Many teams would be overwhelmed by the opportunity to return to the Superbowl, or overconfident from having beaten the Packers earlier this year, but this Seahawks team is different. They focus on their technique, their keys, and are relentless in their will and execution of the game plan. I expect the Packers to take more shots down the field and test Richard Sherman in this game to keep balance and try to loosen up the secondary. Like most games this year the Seahawks will be fairly conservative in the first quarter and will play solid defense without risking too much. Lacy will have more luck than in week 1, but will still face limited windows to run through. At the half the Seahawks will have a modest lead of 13 – 7 with Rodgers finding Nelson for a TD. The Hawks are able to convert on one fumble on the first half, and Marshawn starts the game strong with 40 yds on 10 carries, but Wilson records the first TD for the hawks running it in on a read option play. The second half gets tight as Rodgers comes out firing and briefly stakes the Packers to a 14-13 lead early in the third quarter. The Seahawk ground game takes hold and continues to wear down the undersized Packers line and Russell finds Wilson for another strike to put the Seahawks back in front. Relentless pressure from the Seahawks front starts to bother Rodgers and a strip sack in the fourth quarter leads to another touchdown this time on the legs of Marshawn as he again pushes past 100 yards rushing. The defense gives up a late TD, but the game is out of reach and the Seahawks are headed back to the Superbowl.
Final game prediction: Seahawks 27 Packers 21