“We want the ball and we’re going to score,” fail mary, and the complete collapse in the 2014 NFC Championship game. The Packers and Seahawks have had very memorable moments during their games against each other. The two franchises will add to that history this week when they play each other in the NFC Divisional Round in Green Bay.
The Seahawks are coming off a win against a depleted Eagles team and the Packers are coming off a first round bye ready to start their playoff run. The Packers will need to execute these three keys to victory in order to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.
Stopping 3rd Down Conversions:
The Packers take on a Seahawks offense that finds a way to make plays. The Seahawks faced two defenses in San Francisco and Philadelphia that have the 2nd (33.3%) and 5th best (35.45%) defensive third down conversion rate respectively. Even though these defenses have been offensive killers on 3rd down all season, the Seahawks managed to convert on 16 of their 29 third downs in both games combined. That is good for a 55.17% conversion rate.
The Packers will need to slow down the Seahawks offense and take advantage of their 3rd down opportunities. The Packers have given up first downs on 38.07% of their opponents’ third down attempts. To make things more challenging, the Packers have been worse at home than on the road. The Packers have given up first downs on 43.14% of 3rd downs at home this season, and the Seahawks have completed 41.59% of 3rd down conversions on the road which is top 10 in the NFL. If the Packers’ do not address this issue it could be a long night.
Aaron Jones Takes Over:
The Packers won games in ways that they never had in Aaron Rodgers’ career. The Packers relied on a defense that was boosted by free agents to keep opposing offenses off the field and allow the Packers offense to takeover. However, when the Packers offense took over it was led by Aaron Jones and the Packers run game. Jones reached 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career and posted career numbers in receptions (49), receiving yards (474), and receiving touchdowns (3).
For the Packers to have the best chance to beat the Seahawks they will need Aaron Jones to dominate the game like he did against the Cowboys, Vikings, and the Chiefs. Luckily for the Packers, the Seahawks have given up the 11th most rushing yards in the regular season. Also against a depleted Eagles offense, the Seahawks allowed 120 yards rushing to rookie Miles Sanders and late season additions Boston Scott.
Not only have the Seahawks given up yards on the ground this season, but they struggled to keep teams’ running backs out of the endzone. The Seahawks gave up 22 rushing touchdowns, which was the 3rd most in the NFL this season. Luckily for the Packers, Aaron Jones led the entire NFL in rushing touchdowns with 16. The Packers need to capitalize on the lack of a run defense to slow the game down, and keep the ball out of Russel Wilson’s hands.
Packers Take Advantage of Poor Pass Rush
As mentioned earlier, the Packers relied heavily on their rushing attack this season and with a running back like Aaron Jones, that is expected. The NFL fan base and media have noticed the lack of production on Aaron Rodgers this season and have started to doubt if he is still an elite NFL quarterback. The most evident example of this is ESPN ranking Rodgers 11th out of the 12 quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs. He was ranked behind first-time playoff quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Packers have not had to rely on Rodgers every game this season like they have in the past, but the Seahawks provide an opportunity for Rodgers to show that he has what it takes to win another Super Bowl. Seattle will bring into Green Bay a defense that ranks dead last, 32nd, in creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Packers bring an All-Pro left tackle in Bakhtiari and a left tackle that didn’t give up a single sack all season in Elgton Jenkins.
Aaron Rodgers should have plenty of time in the pocket to find open receivers. The Seahawks have given up the 6th most passing yards this season with 4,407 yards. They have also struggled against top receivers, giving up 102 yards to Deebo Samuel, 113 yards to D.J. Moore, 98 yards to Robert Woods, and 180 yards to MIke Evans.
With Aaron Jones requiring much of the focus, Rodgers and Adams could have their best game of the season. Look for Rodgers to sit back in the pocket and find his top target with ease. The Packers have all the weapons they need to win this game, and like they said all season, I would rather win ugly than lose pretty.