Game Preview: Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

The Hawks travel to the "Land of Cheese" to face the Packers in the final game of the 2006 regular season. This game could also be the last game ever for superstar Packers QB Brett Favre and he will face his mentor Mike Holmgren in a game between two teams heading in opposite directions.

What: Final game of the regular season
When: Sunday, January 1st, 10 a.m. (PST)
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Weather: Cloudy, 33 degrees


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Packers Key Players:

Favre: In what some think could be the final game of an amazing career, Favre takes the field this Sunday for his 222nd straight start, the most ever by a quarterback, and will finish out what has been a disappointing season. Favre appears to have regressed when you look at his 19 touchdowns and 28 interceptions, but hit hasn't totally been his fault. He lost his best wideout (Javon Walker) and his best runner (Ahman Green) to injuries early in the season and the offensive line has been a patchwork unit. Favre still has a canon for an arm, but he struggles when he tries to do too much. This week he said he still loves to play the game, but is uncertain whether he will return in 2006.

WR Donald Driver: Because of the poor results in the win/loss column, Driver's season has gone largely unnoticed. His 80 catches are tied for 10th in the NFL and his 1,103 yards are good for 9th in the league. Driver also has contributed five touchdowns. He isn't a deep threat, but he has good hands and runs excellent routes. His rapport with Favre his ability to read defenses allows helps him to find seams in zones. He also is fearless over the middle.

LB Nick Barnett: Barnett is one of the best athletes on a sub-par defense and he makes plays all over the field. He leads the team with 184 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one interception that was returned 95 yards for a touchdown. Barnett has good quickness and is a solid tackler. Where he runs into problems is when he overruns plays or when he gets locked up on a blocker.

DE Aaron Kampman: From his left end spot, Kampman has had an excellent season rushing the passer. His 6.5 sacks lead the Packers, but he isn't just a good pass-rusher. He holds strong at the point of attack and ranks third on the team with 79 tackles. His ability to get pressure opposite Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila allows the defense to drop their linebackers back in coverage more and it has resulted in the Packers leading the entire NFL in pass-defense allowing on 169.2 yards per game.

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Key Matchups:

Seahawks DE Grant Wistrom vs. Packers LT Chad Clifton: Clifton has had a solid season blocking on Favre's blindside, but Favre has still been sacked 21 times this season. One reason is that Favre has held the ball too long hoping to make a play down the field. Wistrom has a non-stop motor and is the emotional leader of the Seahawks' defense. He recorded the only sack for the Hawks last week and while he hasn't generated a ton of sacks off the edge, he forces quarterbacks to step up in the pocket, allowing his teammates to garner the stat.

Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander vs. Barnett: Barnett has had trouble this year shedding blockers who can get to the second level. Seahawks LG Steve Hutchinson, C Robbie Tobeck and RG Chris Gray all excel at that. Alexander is having the best season of his career and he has a chance to win the league rushing title and to set the record for touchdowns during the season with one this week. Look for Holmgren to get Alexander a lot of carries early in the game so that he can pull his league-leading running back before halftime.

Seahawks WR Darrell Jackson vs. Packers CB Al Harris: Harris is the man who intercepted QB Matt Hasselbeck in the 2003 playoffs to end a heart-breaking playoff game that Seattle appeared poised to win. Harris is strong and smart, but he doesn't have great recovery speed. Jackson, now in his third week back after returning from a knee injury, and Hasselbeck have worked on their connection the past two weeks and it is imperative they are on the same page heading into the playoffs. Look for the Hawks to run several plays to their most dangerous wideout as they try to get him in a rhythm before he sits in the second half of the game.

Seahawks vs. Injuries: Holmgren has stated several times this week that he knows what he wants to do with his players on Sunday as they hope to head into the playoffs as healthy as possible. The secondary has been plagued by injuries all season and last week they lost the only corner to start ever game. Marcus Trufant, Kelly Herndon and Andre Dyson may all miss this week's game, although Herndon may play. Chartric Darby may also sit as he rests an ailing knee. Look for Holmgren to pull his starters sometime during the second quarter allowing backups to get valuable playing time and resting his playmakers, hoping to avoid injuries. The Hawks must enter the playoffs as healthy as possible if they hope to achieve their goal of an early February game in Detroit.

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News and Notes: Hawks are hoping to win 14 games in a season for the first time every in franchise history; Hasselbeck needs three touchdown passes to surpass his career-record of 26 set in 2003; Alexander needs 100 yards rushing to have 12 for the season which would be the second-most in league history behind Barry Sanders' 14 in 1997; WR Joe Jurevicius set career-highs with nine touchdowns and 53 receptions; Favre has 395 touchdown passes and needs five more to be only the second QB ever to throw for more than 400 in his career (Dan Marino has 420); Barnett's 184 tackles are the most ever in franchise history; RB Samkon Gado ranks third among rookie rushers with 582 yards; Packers have a -23 turnover ratio; Packers lead series 5-4 and have won two of the last three.

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Injuries:

Seattle:
OUT: CB Andre Dyson (ankle); S John Howell (hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: CB Marcus Trufant (back)
QUESTIONABLE: LB D.D. Lewis (knee); DE Joe Tafoya (hamstring)
PROBABLE: DT Chartric Darby (knee); WR Bobby Engram (illness); WR Darrell Jackson (knee); T Walter Jones (back)


Green Bay:
OUT: RB Sam Gado (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Robert Ferguson (knee); C Mike Flanigan (hernia); CB Michael Hawkins (knee); G William Whitticker (concussion)
PROBABLE: TE David Martin (concussion)


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Prediction: Seahawks 31 – Packers 23

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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