Mother Nature should bring plenty of excitement to this Sunday afternoon matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks destroyed the Carolina Panthers last Sunday night 40-7 at CenturyLink Field. Offensively, Seattle outgained Carolina 534-271 as the Seahawks ran for 240 yards and threw for 294, creating nearly a perfect balance all night long. However, the win was costly, as safety Earl Thomas is out for the season with a broken tibia.
Green Bay has stabilized its season with a couple of wins in a row after beating the Houston Texans 21-13 last Sunday in a snowstorm. The Packers’ performance was not aesthetically pleasing, as the offense really did not get rolling until the fourth quarter. Green Bay needed a 98-yard touchdown drive that covered the back end of the third quarter and part of the fourth to break a 7-7 tie and give the Packers the spark they needed to pull away for the victory. So is Green Bay really a threat to make a run at the Detroit in the NFC North or is this modest two-game winning streak fool’s gold considering the competition (also beat Philadelphia in Week 12)?
Seattle at Green Bay
Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Seahawks -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Aaron Rodgers vs. Seahawks’ secondary without Earl Thomas
The next man up mentality for the Legion of Boom will be put to the test, as Steven Terrell will take the place of Earl Thomas in Seahawks’ defensive backfield. Don’t be surprised if Rodgers goes after Terrell early and often to force him to step up and make plays. Terrell, did grade out at 82.6 according to Pro Football Focus for last week’s game against the Panthers. Nevertheless, that was against Cam Newton and a Carolina passing game that will not cause as many headaches as Green Bay’s. If Rodgers can get rolling early and connect with Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams then the Packers will be in great shape for another win over the Seahawks at Lambeau.
2. Seahawks running game vs. Packers’ defense
With Green Bay linebacker Nick Perry out this week because of a significant hand injury, it’s going to be important for Seattle to try and establish its running game early. Thomas Rawls is coming off of a big game against Carolina, as he gashed the Panthers for 106 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, one coming on a 42-yard run. Rawls’ effectiveness against the Panthers allowed offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to dig into his bag of plays, including a fly sweep by Tyler Lockett that went for 75 yards and a backbreaking touchdown early in the third quarter that made the score 30-7.
3. Seahawks’ pass rush vs. Packers’ offensive line
Over the years, Seattle has done a nice job of getting pressure on Rodgers on a regular basis. It will be fascinating to see how defensive coordinator Kris Richard attacks Rodgers in this game, as the injury situation would dictate an increased focus on blitzing and relying more on the defensive line. Look for Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark to get ample pressure on Rodgers and try to get him out of the pocket. Although with Rodgers, that’s not always the best strategy since he’s capable of picking up some yards with his legs as well as throwing on the run. If Avril can come up with one of his textbook strip sack-and-fumble early on then that should give the Seahawks’ defense some much-needed confidence and momentum.
With the amount of injuries Green Bay is dealing with on defense, you would think Russell Wilson should have a field day lighting up the Packers, as many teams have done this season. However, the reality is the Seahawks have not won in Lambeau Field since 1999 so there is a bit of a mental hurdle for them to overcome. In addition, life on the road has not been kind to Seattle, who is just 2-3-1 away from CenturyLink Field. The Packers are the more desperate team in this matchup, and with the home-field advantage should find a way to sneak out with another tough win over the Seahawks and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Prediction: Packers 27, Seahawks 24
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.