In the conclusion of our Behind Enemy Lines series, Seahawks.NET's Doug Farrar and Packer Report's Todd Korth go back and forth with the most important matchups when the Seahawks and Packers meet on Saturday. Plus, final predictions!
to watch when the Packers are on offense:
Todd Korth: I'll be keeping an eye on Seahawks
Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney against underrated Packers offensive
tackle Mark Tauscher. Kerney is coming off a three-sack effort against Washington and has all the respect of everyone
in the Packers locker room. Tauscher probably will be getting some help to
contain Kerney, but how much?
Tauscher and the Packers only allowed
Brett Favre to be sacked 15 times this season. Tauscher has been playing most
of the second half of the season on a sore ankle, so we'll see on Saturday
if the line can protect Favre against Kerney and a formidable Seahawks defensive
Matchup to watch
when the Seahawks are on offense:
Doug Farrar: Seattle's
three-and four-receiver sets against Green
Bay's safeties. Football Outsiders'
Defensive DVOA ranks Green Bay's defense as 5th against #1 receivers,
17th against #2 receivers, and 31st against "other" (read: slot)
receivers. This pretty much plays to the Packers' secondary -- Charles Woodson
and Al Harris are excellent man corners, but the safeties, led by Atari Bigby, can be exploited.
No Green Bay linebacker has a perceptible
Stop Rate against the pass, but the Pack ranks 8th in Defensive DVOA against
running backs that catch the ball. The Seahawks will hopefully have Deion Branch back the lineup, but even if they don't, they'll need to run their
routes through the middle of the field and win those matchups. Without a real
run game, the Seahawks will have to rely on a very high completion percentage
of short passes to extend drives and keep Green Bay's offense off the field.
to watch when the Packers are on defense:
TK: Since the Seahawks are not expected to run the ball much, it
will be up to the Packers defense to put as much pressure as possible on quarterback
Matt Hasselbeck. Look for Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman
to do all he can to get past Seahawks right tackle Sean Locklear. Kampman, who did not suit up for Green Bay's regular season
finale against Detroit, finished the season with 12 sacks, but only had three
sacks in the last seven games that he has played.<p>
Matchup to watch
when the Seahawks are on defense:
Green Bay running back Ryan Grant vs. Seattle's
front four. Brett Favre and those Packers receivers are the obvious challenge
for Seattle's defense, but the Seahawks will gain an advantage
there if they can shut down Grant and the Green Bay running game without having to commit extra defenders. Packers
wideouts will take short passes in a spread offense and gain serious yards
after catch, but the Seahawks' linebackers, especially Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, are very well-qualified to counter that, as is strong safety Deon Grant.
But if the Seahawks have to commit to men in the box against
Grant, or if playing the pass allows Ryan Grant to gash the defensive line,
it will be a long, impossible day for the Seahawks. Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane have redefined the interior line this season, and they'll need to keep
doing it if they want to see the NFC Championship.
Packers will win this game if…
If Brett Favre makes good decisions and allows the players around him to make
plays, like the Packers have done all season. More than half of Green
Bay's receiving yardage has come after the catch. Seattle has proven all season that it will not
be beaten with the deep ball, so it will be up to Favre to spread the ball
around on offense, which should open up the running game for Ryan Grant. If
the Packers' defense can put pressure on banged-up Matt Hasselbeck, Green
Bay's defense may be able to capitalize on mistakes and give the offense good
The Seahawks will
win this game if…
If they can run the ball, Seattle's offense could provide
a virtual lead-pipe lock of a matchup with Green Bay's offense. If that happens -- if the
Seahawks can gain consistent yardage on the ground -- the complexion of this
game would change decidedly. But since we can't wait for Shaun Alexander and
that offensive line to win the lottery, and since the Packers ranked 6th
in Defensive DVOA against the run this season, Matt Hasselbeck will have
to continue to take the offense as far as it will go.
Packers will lose this game if…
TK: "(If) we beat ourselves," according to backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been telling reporters that all week. If the Packers turn
the ball over and do not communicate effectively on defense to prevent the
Seahawks from making big plays, the Packers probably will lose.
The Seahawks will
lose this game if…
they get down early, it could be all over with a quickness. Green
Bay's coaches already know that their defense will be playing the pass, so
there's no real strategic advantage to ramping up that strategy out of necessity
-- the Seahawks go into every game needing to throw the ball like they're
down by two touchdowns. Having to overcome that crazy Lambeau crowd, a very
able Packers team and a very real momentum disadvantage in that case would
prove fatal. Seattle must get on
the scoreboard as soon as possible.
home-field advantage, a bye-week in their rearview mirror, and a pep rally
that is expected to attract more than 15,000 fans to Lambeau Field on Friday
night, the Packers will enter this game pumped up and ready to go. It would
be a shock to see Green Bay come
out flat against the Seahawks on Saturday afternoon. Green Bay Packers
27, Seattle Seahawks 17.
Doug Farrar: While
I think it will be close, and Seattle's defense will play tougher than just about anyone outside of
the Pacific Northwest thinks they can, the Packers simply have too many weapons,
and the Seahawks will find it difficult to counter on offense. Seattle has
been incredibly inconsistent in short-yardage situations all season, both
in playcalling and execution, and the best way to beat a juggernaut at home
is to play keep-away.
The Colts played keep-away all the way to the Super Bowl last
year, but the Seahawks don't have the ground game they'd need to make that
happen. The good news, if there is any, is that the lack of a rushing attack
will be graphic enough to force Seattle's front office to focus on it very
intently in the offseason … and THAT could put the Seahawks in next year's
postseason driver's seat.
But for now, a very intriguing
Seattle season ends at the hand of Brett and his boys. Green
Bay Packers 27, Seattle Seahawks 23.