The Packers are officially on a win streak! The Texans game wasn’t the prettiest, but at this point ,a win is a win. This week, the Packers face a much harder test when the Seattle Seahawks pay a visit to Lambeau. The rivalry that has formed between these two teams in the last decade is dark, twisted and filled with bad blood. The Seahawks know they can almost end the Packers season with a win on Sunday, and you know they would love nothing more than to do just that. This is a must win for the Packers, though, so Sunday is bound to be intense and thrilling.
3 Burning Questions
Can Clay Matthews fill Nick Perry’s void?
Nick Perry has been so important to the Packers defense this year. He leads the Packers with 8 sacks and tackles for loss with 9. Typically these would be the type of numbers one would come to expect from Clay Matthews, but Matthews has had a quiet season. A season quiet enough to be classified as forgettable.
Clay has battled his share of injuries, but even when he’s been on the field, his play looks uninspired (18 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 forced turnovers). Sunday is a huge opportunity for Clay to step up with Perry being out. The idea that Perry could be out for the rest of the season adds a whole new sense of urgency for Matthews to produce. It could be a long day in Green Bay if the Packers can’t develop a pass rush, or at least contain the pocket and keep Russell Wilson from scrambling. They need a vintage Matthews performance to make things difficult for the Seahawks offense.
Will the Packers take advantage of Earl Thomas’ absence?
Words can’t describe what Earl Thomas means to the Seahawks secondary. He played in 118 straight games prior to the Buccaneers game in Week 11 this season – The Seahawks just so happened to lose that game. Thomas has been a staple in one of the greatest secondaries of our time.
Stepping in to fill the Free Safety position for Seattle is 3rd year reserve man Steven Terrell, who has fantastic speed, but lacks the incredible instincts that Earl Thomas possesses. With this big of a difference maker out of the game, surely Mike McCarthy will gameplan accordingly. Right? Only time will tell I guess, but this is too big of an advantage for even McCarthy to turn a blind eye to.
What can Christine Michael bring to the table this week?
Christine Michael is a key piece to this offense going forward if the Packers actually have plans to run the table, and he is going to play a huge part in this week’s game. He spent almost 4 years in the Seahawks organization, and should be able to give Packer coaches insight into the Seahawks playbook. Aside from knowledge of the Seahawks inner workings, he is also a very capable back.
In the weeks leading up to acquiring Michael, the Packers run game was lost. In the weeks he has been in Green Bay, the running game is still lost. He showed in last week’s game that he can run, now it’s time to give him opportunities. The Packers need some semblance of a run game, and Starks has shown he is not capable of doing that. In order to keep the defense honest on Sunday, McCarthy will need Christine Michael to be effective. With a couple weeks under his belt to have learned the playbook, Michael should be ready to rock and roll, and give the team that released him a taste of their own medicine.
2 Key Matchups
Packers Front Seven vs Russell Wilson
As mentioned earlier, the Packers will be without stud linebacker Nick Perry. Mike Pennel also got hit with a suspension this week. The remaining players will be tasked with shutting down a top-tier quarterback in Wilson. Wilson has incredible mobility, on top of pristine decision making. The gameplan has to be revolved around keeping Wilson in the pocket, all while trying to get pressure on him.
The pressure part will be the easier of the two, as the Seattle offensive line has given up the 9th most sacks in the league. But what has hurt the Packers in the past against Wilson is his ability to escape the pocket and extend plays. A relatively healthy secondary can help the front seven out, but their work is cut out for them this week.
Packers Wide Receivers vs Seattle Secondary
There has been some huge strides taken in the last several weeks from this receiving core, especially the play from Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson. But a player not really making his presence known throughout the majority of this season is Randall Cobb. Cobb has only registered one 100-plus yard game this season, but has contributed several key 3rd down conversions and caught some pretty touchdowns.
The injury to Earl Thomas should benefit Cobb the most. Cobb has always had a knack for finding the holes in zone coverage and with Thomas out, the holes in the typically tight Seattle zone should be a little bit wider allowing Cobb more room to make plays happen after the catch.
The last time these two teams met up in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers put together his best game by far against this strong Seattle defense. He posted a passer rating of 116.9, and threw for 249 yards with 2 TD’s. Given the loss of Earl Thomas, Rodgers has a unique opportunity to do work against the Legion of Doom, and boy will he ever. I’m calling for Rodgers to throw for 326 yards and 3 TD’s, all with a passer rating of 125.8
Green Bay Packers – 21
Seattle Seahawks – 17