Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers – This Is Not A 2014 NFC Championship Rematch

This Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Seahawks travels to Green Bay with the hope of keeping their season alive for at least one more week, and more importantly, a five-year overdue return trip to the NFC Championship. 

Seattle last appeared in the NFC Championship in the 2014 season (played in January 2015), where they hosted Green Bay in one of the most stunning comeback victories in playoff history. Seattle trailed 16-0 at half time and 19-7 with just four minutes left to play in regulation and the ball on their own 31-yard line. What ensued was absolutely bonkers, as Seattle scored two touchdowns, recovered an onside kick, and executed a two-point conversion to take a 22-19 lead before Green Bay forced overtime with a field goal as time expired. 

Despite a severely uncharacteristic four-interception game from Russell Wilson, Seattle would emerge victorious on the first drive of overtime, as Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning score. 

And that’s the last time Seattle faced Green Bay in the playoffs. There have been five years of up-and-down seasons for both teams, not to mention many changes in the roster and coaching staffs, so it’s unlikely either side is carrying around any baggage as a result of something that happened half a decade ago. I can assure you they have moved on and are focusing on this week and this week only, even if their fans or the team experts say they haven’t. Media members are tasked with creating public interest via tension between teams; the teams are tasked with ignoring the pressure and/or rising above it. 

It’s the playoffs—there is plenty on the line without holding on to old grudges. 

The winner of this game moves on to face the winner between San Francisco and Minnesota, which will be played the day prior, so by kickoff Sunday, these two teams will be well aware of who they get to play and where. Should Minnesota win on Saturday, the winner of this game would host the NFC Championship. If San Francisco emerges victorious, the winner of this game would travel to Santa Clara and face the 49ers at home on Sunday. 

Don’t ask me why a team would travel to Santa Clara; there isn’t a good answer to that question. The San Francisco 49ers play their home games roughly 45min south of the city they claim to be invested in, which is where their home stadium was located for the first 67 years of their existence. 

Coming into this game, it’s tough to say what each team might do. Seattle only defeated three playoff teams in the regular season (Eagles, Vikings, 49ers) and lost to three others (Saints, Ravens, 49ers). Green Bay beat only two playoff teams (Vikings and Chiefs) and lost to two other playoff teams (Eagles and 49ers). We really don’t know how either team lines up versus another playoff team with their seasons on the line. Both of these teams have feasted on inferior competition for most of the season in weak divisions while getting blasted on occasion when they faced an elite contender outside of their own division rivals.  Green Bay is -11 in margin of victory against 2019 playoff teams, and Seattle is +1 including their victory over the Eagles last Sunday. 

While neither team has shown consistent success against teams contending for the Lombardi Trophy, the good news is that once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. Both of these teams are a mere two wins away from the Super Bowl—no matter what they might have done during the regular season.

The Wayback Machine

Before we get into the matchup at hand, let’s do a little time travel back to the most recent meetings in the playoffs. Again, this is just for fun to see if there are any parallels; what happened in the past is staying in the past. 

The last time Seattle had an 11-5 record and was the number 5 seed in the playoffs was 2012, when they beat NFC East winner (#4 Washington) in the wild card round. Since joining the NFC West division in 2002, Seattle has never advanced beyond the divisional round as a wild card team. The only time they have advanced to the conference championship round as a wild card was in 1983, when they were a member of the AFC and were making their first postseason appearance.  

The last time Green Bay had a 13-3 record and was the number two seed in the playoffs was 2007, when they hosted #3 Seattle in the divisional round and won 42-20. Nothing that happened in 2007 or 2012 (or 2003 or 2014) actually matters today, but it’s fun to draw parallels between seasons more than a decade apart to see if the connections stick. Unless Seattle makes it to the Super Bowl for a rematch with the Ravens, none of the above matters, and even then, it is just for kicks. 

The Matchup

What matters is what takes place this Sunday. Green Bay hosts Seattle in a new game that has enough material for lasting entertainment without focusing on anything that happened in the past. We don’t have any film study of the Matt LaFleur offense versus Pete Carroll’s defense, and while they have technically faced each other before, whatever happens Sunday will be something entirely new. 

Both teams enter Sunday undefeated, with a blank slate and with a spot in the NFC Championship game on the line. And while that’s the only stat that matters, let me show you some stuff anyway, just for old time’s sake. 

Russell Wilson enters the game with better numbers across the board compared to Aaron Rodgers, for perhaps the first time in their careers. While Rodgers is usually near the top of the QB heap, this year he has had trouble taking over games and his numbers don’t jump off the page the way they once did. 

While Green Bay apologists offer up Rodgers’ history of mind-boggling numbers and that it isn’t realistic to expect annual greatness, non-Green Bay fans can point to other QBs declining in their mid-late 30’s, and see the same rust around Rodgers’ suddenly average performances. Rodgers hasn’t had a stellar performance in the playoffs since the divisional round of the 2016 season (also the last time he took a team to the playoffs), and for a player who is expected to be a first-ballot hall of famer, that’s simply inexcusable. 

Wilson, on the other hand, has had at least one stellar performance in the playoffs every year of his career, save for the great Seattle playoff drought of 2017. We’ve seen Wilson pull off magic this season, but the same cannot be said for Rodgers, and he might be required to dust off his golden arm and firmly install the chip on his shoulder to deliver a vintage Rodgers performance if his Packers are going to advance.

PlayerYardsTDsINTsCompletion %Passer Rating
Russell Wilson411031566.1106.3
Aaron Rodgers40022646295.4

The running game could be a totally different story. With a healthy Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks should have one of the best remaining running games. As it stands, their top running back is 6th-round rookie Travis Homer, and their short-yardage back is Marshawn Lynch who was lured out of retirement—a fun feel-good story but not exactly ideal. Green Bay has a solid running game, but in their three losses they were surprisingly one dimensional, averaging a mere 30 rushing yards per game. If Seattle can rise to the occasion and shut down Jones and force Rodgers to beat them with his arm, it could pay dividends as Rodgers has proven that while he doesn’t do well when his supporting cast struggles.

PlayerYardsAtt/gameTDsFumblesPer Attempt20+ yards
Aaron Jones108414.81624.65
Seattle RBs137818.5864.49

Receiving is where you really start to notice a separation between these two offenses. While Seattle was a mere six catches or 100 yards away from having two 1000-yard receivers, “secondary” receiver DK Metcalf more than made up those yards in last week’s win over Philadelphia. Just looking at the numbers, it would appear that if Seattle were able to contain Jones and double team Davante Adams, there wouldn’t be a go-to guy for Rodgers to open the field with. Alan Lazard has shown flashes as a possession receiver, and so has Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a deep threat, but neither has been a consistent option. TE Jimmy Graham hasn’t been the same player since getting hurt in Seattle in 2015, and there’s not anyone after him that can change the outcome of a game. Tyler Lockett and Metcalf have been backing off secondaries all season, and Green Bay’s untested defense will need to show up on Sunday if they are going to contain this dynamic duo.

PlayerYardsTDsReceptionsPer Catch20+ yards
Tyler Lockett105788212.915
DK Metcalf90075815.513
Davante Adams9975831212
Aaron Jones4743499.76

Overall on offense, this game appears to be eerily close, but when you focus on specific position groups, there is noticeable separation the defenses can take advantage of. There’s a large discrepancy in yards, but they are neck in neck on points, and just a bit apart overall on passing, although we’ve established Green Bay lacks secondary playmakers to take pressure off the trio of Rodgers, Adams, and Jones. Seattle is top-5 in rushing, but that was prior to severe injuries at the position and now might be closer to the mean. Both teams score at a high rate and take care of the football. They don’t allow many sacks, although Seattle does allow nearly one more sack per game than the Packers and has a higher turnover rate, most likely due to Carson’s fumbles earlier in the year. If sacks or turnovers are the difference in this game (and they usually are), then Seattle had better play above their season averages in those categories. 

TeamYardsPointsPassingRushingTDsSacksBig PlaysScore rateTurnover rate
Green Bay18th23.517th15th26365237.36.8

On defense, it’s a much different story, and Seattle has a lot of ground to make up on paper. Seattle is toward the bottom of the league in yards allowed, allows almost as many points as they score, and are near the bottom of the league in both passing and rush defense. They don’t blitz much or get many sacks, but still found ways to limit big plays of 20 or more yards. Green Bay started out the year red hot on defense, then took a few steps back, and then finished the season looking like they could carry the offense if needed. Of course only one of their last six games came against a quality opponent, so that last sentence could be loaded with issues. 

Overall they allowed far too many big plays, but they had a great pressure rate without sending extra defenders and consistently got to the QB with just their edge rushers. One obvious issue for Green Bay’s defense is their tendency to send extra help in rush defense and leave their secondary hung out to dry. With playmakers all over the field for Seattle, Green Bay will need to be careful when they choose to focus on the run versus fielding a balanced attack. 

TeamYardsPointsPassing RushingINTsSacksBig PlaysScore rateBlitz rate
Green Bay18th19.614th23rd17417134.322.6

Green Bay was 7-1 at home this season, while Seattle was a near-perfect 8-1 on the road, including their playoff win in Philadelphia. Since neither team exhibited an obvious flaw in their success as the home or road team, it’s difficult to say which team will benefit from being the host or visitor. If I had to bet, I would bet on the Packers having a slight advantage due to the history of Lambeau Field, but other than that it’s a coin-flip game. Throw all the stats you want at Seattle; they always find a way to be competitive. 

It’s win or go home for both teams—so who will win and advance? It’s too close to call, but it should be a good and entertaining game, and in the playoffs that’s all you can ask for as a fan. Whoever loses, this is the end of their season, and it’s tough to get much closer to a good ending to your season, as long as you’re not embarrassed in your final game. 

Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the low 20s, with minimal wind and no rain or snow. So the very frozen tundra, similar to what Seattle saw in Minnesota three years ago in a 10-9 win in the “Blair Walsh” game. Sunday’s matchup will be broadcast on FOX, with coverage expected to begin at 3pm and kickoff scheduled at 340pm. If the game on CBS (Kansas City vs Houston) runs long, they might move this game back a while to allow a single audience for both games, so plan accordingly. 

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About Casey Mabbott 253 Articles
Casey Mabbott is a writer and podcast host born and raised in West Philadelphia where he spent most of his days on the basketball court perfecting his million dollar jumpshot. Wait, no, that’s all wrong. Casey has spent his entire life here in the Pacific NorthWest other than his one year stint as mayor of Hill Valley in an alternate reality 1985. He’s never been to Philadelphia, and his closest friends will tell you that his jumpshot is the farthest thing from being worth a million bucks. Casey enjoys all sports and covering them with written words or spoken rants. He has made an art of movie references, and is a devout follower of 80's movies and music. I don't know why you would to, but you can probably find him on the street corner waiting for the trolley to take him to the stadium or his favorite pub, where he will be telling people the answers to questions they don’t remember asking. And it only goes downhill from there if he drinks. He’s a real treat.