NFC Championship Preview: Packers at Seahawks

We have team notes, stats and story lines as we take one last look at Sunday's championship game between the Packers (13-4) at Seahawks (13-4).

GREEN BAY (13-4) at SEATTLE (13-4)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 2:05 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE: Seahawks by 7.

RECORD VS. SPREAD: Green Bay 8-8-1, Seattle 10-6-1

SERIES RECORD: Green Bay leads 10-7.

LAST MEETING: Seahawks beat Packers 36-16, Sept. 4, 2014.

LAST WEEK: Packers beat Cowboys 26-21; Seahawks beat Panthers 31-17.

AP PRO32 RANKING: Packers No. 3, Seahawks No. 1.

PACKERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (6), RUSH (11), PASS (8).

PACKERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (15), RUSH (23), PASS (10).

SEAHAWKS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (1), PASS (27).

SEAHAWKS DEFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (3), PASS (1).


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STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Seahawks trying to become 12th team to return to Super Bowl season after winning title. ... Packers seeking first Super Bowl trip since winning title in February 2011. ... Packers have won previous two playoff meetings between teams, both games in Green Bay. ... Seahawks beat Packers 36-16 in first game of NFL regular season in September on night Seattle's Super Bowl banner was unveiled. ... Seahawks have won past two regular season meetings. ... Packers are 3-2 all-time in NFC championship games and won past two on the road. ... QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 316 yards, three TDs and had passer rating of 125.6 in divisional round win over Cowboys despite playing with calf injury. The performance ranked top 10 all-time in Packers' playoff history in yards, touchdowns and passer rating. ... All five of Rodgers' interceptions in regular season came on road. ... RB Eddie Lacy rushed for 101 yards, becoming first Packers running back to top 100 yards in playoff game since James Starks in January 2011 vs. Eagles. ... Lacy held to 34 yards on 12 carries in season opener. ... Packers averaging 137.5 yards per game rushing over past eight games, last week included. ... WR Davonte Adams and WR Randall Cobb both topped 100 yards receiving vs. Cowboys. First pair of receivers in franchise history to do that in same playoff game. ... Two of Packers' TDs vs. Cowboys were caught by TEs - Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers. ... LB Julius Peppers had sack and two forced fumbles vs. Cowboys. ... LB Clay Matthews had 11 1/2 sacks in regular season, including 8 1/2 over the final eight games. ... CB Tramon Williams and CB Sam Shield both have four career INTs in postseason. ... Packers finished first in league in turnover margin (plus-14) during regular season. ... Seahawks would be first defending champion to return to Super Bowl since New England in 2004 playoffs. ... Seahawks have won eight straight home playoff games. ... QB Russell Wilson has highest postseason passer rating (109.6) in league history with minimum of 150 attempts. ... Wilson threw for 268 yards and three TDs last week vs. Panthers. His passer rating of 149.2 was fifth-highest for single game in postseason history. ... RB Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and TD in season opener. ... Lynch has rushed for 100 yards in three of past six postseason games. ... Percy Harvin, now with Jets, led Seahawks in first game against Packers with 59 yards receiving and added another 41 rushing. ... WR Jermaine Kearse has a touchdown reception in past three playoff games. Had career-high 129 yards receiving last week vs. Panthers. ... TE Luke Willson has three TDs in past three games. ... WR Paul Richardson out for season after tearing ACL in left knee vs. Panthers. ... C Max Unger expected to play despite aggravating an ankle injury late in win over Panthers. ... Seahawks only team in league to allow less than 200 yards per game passing. ... Packers held to 175 yards passing in season opener. ... DE Michael Bennett had two sacks and forced fumble in Week 1 vs. Packers. ... Panthers' fourth-quarter touchdown first points allowed by Seahawks in fourth quarter since Week 11. ... CB Richard Sherman had first postseason interception of career last week vs. Panthers. ... Packers did not throw at Sherman in first matchup this season. ... Strong safety Kam Chancellor returned interception 90 yards for TD in fourth quarter. Was first touchdown of career. ... Chancellor had 10 tackles vs. Panthers, most since season opener vs. Packers.

SUNDAY’S HIGH-FIVE

Eventually, the paths of Green Bay and Seattle were going to cross again.

After they opened the 2014 NFL season in early September, it seemed inevitable that Aaron Rodgers would get a second chance to throw at Richard Sherman — if he wanted to. That Russell Wilson would have to avoid Clay Matthews trying to chase him down. And that the Packers would get another opportunity to topple Seattle and be the elite of the NFC.

They were the two best teams in the conference in the second half of the regular season. So it's only fitting the Packers and Seahawks meet Sunday for the NFC championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.

"It's just the way it should be. It should be just like that right now," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Here's what to watch for:

CALF WATCH: Rodgers' injury is slowing him from scrambling before throwing, one of his strengths. His right arm is just fine. Rodgers got hurt during the Dec. 21 game against Tampa Bay. He still completed 74 percent of his passes in his last three games, including the win over Dallas. Coach Mike McCarthy has had Rodgers operating out of shotgun formations to help limit his movement.

Perhaps just as importantly for the Packers has been the solid work of the offensive line much of the year. All-Pro fullback John Kuhn, an excellent blocker, has also seen more time of late. Rodgers will need top-notch protection against Seattle's tough defense.

SILENT SHERM: Sherman, another All-Pro, was bored when Green Bay visited in the season opener. Through the entire game, Rodgers refused to throw at the cornerback, instead turning to the other side of the field. Sherman took Rodgers' approach as a sign of respect. It also left him frustrated. He described it as being a "12" on a 1-10 scale.

"Everybody's like, 'Man, that's cool, nobody threw to your side,'" Sherman said. "But if you're a player, you want to make plays in the game, you feel you can help your team, you want the ball coming your way more."

Sherman doesn't expect it the same this time.

"I'm not surprised either way," Sherman said. "But I expect them to execute their game plan, whatever that may be. Not sure what they're going to do."

ATTITUDE: Linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers draw the headlines and make big plays on the Packers' defense. Lineman Mike Daniels supplies the attitude. A mainstay up front, Daniels' demeanor sets a stern tone on game day.

They'll need Daniels and fellow lineman Letroy Guion to slow down bullish running back Marshawn Lynch just enough to allow linebackers Matthews and Sam Barrington, and safety Morgan Burnett to try to finish off tackles up the middle. Daniels has 14 tackles and two sacks over his last four games.

COMING OF AGE: When Green Bay visited in Week 1, center Corey Linsley, wide receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers were all making their NFL debuts. Now they're integral parts of the offense. Adams was the star of Green Bay's win over Dallas last week with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.

"You expect those guys to hit some sort of lull during the year, as the college season is usually 12 or 13 games," Aaron Rodgers said. "After the preseason, you're looking at midway through the season, that's a normal college season for these guys, and you haven't seen it."

THANKS BUFFALO: Seattle ultimately owes thanks to Buffalo for Sunday's title game being played at CenturyLink Field. The Bills' victory over Green Bay in Week 15 was the difference in Seattle winning the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Instead of Seattle being forced to deal with the freezing temperatures of Wisconsin, the Packers are about to enter the Seahawks' cauldron of noise — certain to be even more amped than when Green Bay visited to open the season.

"Any time we get the home games, especially the NFC championship at home, and we get to play in front of the 12s, it's exciting," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said of the team's fan base. "It's exciting for us, exciting for them, and I think we deserve it and they deserve it, as well."

STATISTICAL LEADERS

GREEN BAYNFC NFL
Team
Turnover Margin (+14)1 1
Points Scored (30.4)1 1
Points Allowed (21.8)6 13t
Total Offense (386.1)3 6
Rushing (119.8)6 11
Passing (266.3)5 8
Total Defense (346.4)6 15
vs. Rush (119.9)13 23
vs. Pass (226.4)4 10
Third-Down Offense (47.2%)3 3
Third-Down Defense (40.3%)7 18
Red-Zone Offense (57.8%)6 10
Red-Zone Defense (56.3%)8 20
Individual
Passing: Rodgers (112.2)2 2
Rushing: Lacy (1,139)4 7
Receptions: Nelson (98)4 7
Rec. Yds.: Nelson (1,519)2 4
Interceptions: Hayward/Williams (3)17t 27t
Sacks: Matthews (11.0)5 12t

SEATTLENFC NFL
Team
Turnover Margin (+10)2 4
Points Scored (24.6)5 10
Points Allowed (15.9)1 1
Total Offense (375.8)6 9
Rushing (172.6)1 1
Passing (203.1)14 27
Total Defense (267.1)1 1
vs. Rush (81.5)2 3
vs. Pass (185.6)1 1
Third-Down Offense (42.5%)7 11
Third-Down Defense (37.1%)2 8
Red-Zone Offense (51.7%)10 20
Red-Zone Defense (59.5%)11 26
Individual
Passing: Wilson (95.0)5 10
Rushing: Lynch (1,306)3 4
Receptions: Baldwin (66)23 42t
Rec. Yds.: Baldwin (825)24 42
Interceptions: Sherman (4).5t 8t
Sacks: Bennett (7.0)17t 36t

Find Genaro C. Armas on Twitter at twitter.com/GArmasAP.


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