By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
This weekend, the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs will commence. The game on Sunday at 6:40 pm EST (tv: FOX) where the Green Bay Packers (13-3) will host the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) will feature two top-rated quarterbacks. A showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson is always thrilling.
Odd-makers have the Packers giving up four points. Typically the home team gets a three-point advantage but since the Seahawks have been just stellar on the road this year, I’m surprised it’s not a closer margin.
And they have the over/under at 47. Hmmm. Do I think this will be a shootout so I bet the over? Or am I predicting some great defensive plays which keep it a low scoring game? Hmmm again.
Ultimately it comes down to one simple question: Are Rodgers and Wilson the two most important players in this game? The “Keys,” if you will. Or will the outcome hinge on someone else?
I’m leaning towards the “someone else” answer. Yes, both QB’s are awesome, have experience and can be counted on to make the smart plays in big games. So I consider the teams even at that position. For me, it’s going to come down to two things: running backs and defense.
Packers RB Aaron Jones has had a great year with nearly 1,500 multi-purpose yards. He averaged 110 yards per game in their 13 wins. He averaged just 42 yards per game in their 3 losses. See a pattern here? They’ll need to get him involved early and often this week.
Packers RB Aaron Jones led all NFL players in broken tackles in 2019 https://t.co/gVyksxc4O9
— The Packers Wire (@ThePackersWire) January 3, 2020
As for the Seahawks rushing game, they were ranked 4th in the league before an injury knocked out RB Chris Carson. Answer? Bring back Marshawn Lynch! Now, between Lynch and RB Travis Homer they put up just 19 yards against the Eagles last week so I’m not seeing early returns on this investment. But perhaps that is why DK Metcalf excelled in that game – because the defense was so focused on Lynch.
— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SONTSeattle) January 6, 2020
The Packers boast one of the league’s best defense’s when it comes to the short pass. Will Wilson be able to hit Metcalf on the long bomb? Will his offensive line give him the time he needs for his receivers to get into position? Or will the threat of Lynch and Homer be enough to keep the secondary focused on who might be coming through the line so that short passes can be effective? It will be up to Wilson to see what the Packers D is giving him and take advantage.
As to the Seahawks defense, they’ve been pretty good on the road and racked up seven sacks in Philadelphia last week. Considering they were the 31st team in the league for total sacks this season, things are looking up. Are they going to hit Rodgers seven times? Nope. Green Bay has a much better line and protection scheme than the Eagles did. However, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright should figure prominently if the Seahawks are to prevail.
My prediction: another close one as that seems to be what the Seahawks are good at. And frankly, I feel like they will be driving the pace and power of this game.
Seattle 24 – Green Bay 19 (From a betting standpoint, I’d take the points and the Under. Just saying…)
Seattle (No. 8 DVOA) actually ranked ahead of Green Bay (No. 10 DVOA) ahead of next week’s game. Packers are one of the worst 13-3 teams we’ve ever seen. Do not be surprised to see a 49ers-Seahawks NFC title game.
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 6, 2020
Talk NFL with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8