Packer fans…we have officially made it. It’s finally game day!
It feels like we’ve been waiting for this day to come for a long time. There’s nothing quite like game day at Lambeau Field, only this time the stakes are much higher. The winner of this matchup will travel to Santa Clara to take on the 49ers after their win over the Minnesota Vikings. This will be the first time the Packers have met the Seahawks this season, but they are a familiar face in the playoffs.
So many great games have been played between the Packers and Seahawks, be it a Packers win or not. I don’t even need to mention the last playoff meeting between the two (2014) which will be one of the most historic games played in NFL history. Seahawk fans can look back at the game with fond memories. For Packer fans, not so much. A win this year over Seattle might just wash that nasty taste out of their mouths.
I have to admit; I’m feeling confident that the Packers grab the win in the divisional round. The main thing for the team is to not overlook the Seahawks and focus on going 1-0 for the week, as Matt LaFleur has stated all year. With the way the team has been this year though, I don’t see them overlooking any opponent.
I’m not saying that this team is good enough, the main point that I want to hit home is how much the Packers have had to scrap and fight for every win this season, especially during weeks that we anticipated a blowout win. The consensus seems to be the same among all Packer backers; it doesn’t matter how stylish the Packers win is, a win is all that matters.
That consensus is all-too-real when it comes to the playoffs. It’s win or go home. Everything is on the line.
There will be several things to keep a close eye on this week during the divisional round, both from the Packers and Seahawks. Here are just a few:
The Packers Defensive Front
It’s no secret that the Packers front 7 has been the backbone of the defense this season. Both Za’Darius and Preston Smith have carried the load. It will be up to them to be able to contain Russell Wilson and not allow him to make or create big gaining plays with his legs. Wilson does a tremendous job of buying time by scrambling, which allows his receivers to shake off a defender. He always seems to be in sync with his receivers. If the Smith brothers can keep him in the pocket, or get pressure on him, then I feel like the Packers defense will have the upper hand. Think back to when the Packers played the Vikings several weeks ago. Za’Darius Smith propelled that defense which was almost the key to a victory. Let’s hope the same happens this week.
The Run Game
Aaron Jones needs to have another big week on the ground this week in order to help out the offense. Jones has been a reliable go-to player that can spring big running plays and also take some of the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. It’s nice because it feels like we haven’t had this in Green Bay in a long time. When it came time to playoffs, the offense had to rely heavily on the passing game and the arm of Rodgers. The weather during most playoff games doesn’t seem too appealing for throwing the football. Everything feels out of synch when it’s below freezing and players can barely feel their fingers. It might be easy to overlook, but it makes a big difference. If the Packers can set things up early and often on the ground, it could open up things in the passing game. Don’t sleep on Jamaal Williams either. He has proven that he can be a reliable back in short yard situations.
I say it pretty frequently in my articles, but special teams are extremely important in every game. It is, after all, a third of the game. J.K. Scott has really been hit or miss in the punting game this season. Field position will be of the utmost importance every single drive. The Packers can’t afford to have any shanked punts and set the defense up to defend a short field. As we’ve seen this year, this defense can thrive when the opponents offense is backed up inside of their own 20 yard line. It could set them up with an easy pick-six, a safety or a strip-sack.
This game is shaping up to be a good one. I’ve reminisced all week thinking about the events that have happened leading up to the playoffs. I mean, who would have imagined a first year head coach leading the Packers to a 13-3 record, winning the division and hosting a playoff game? We certainly have been fortunate this season. The Packers have their eyes set on a much bigger goal, though. We’ll just take it one week at at time and let the results take care of themselves.
Final Prediction: Packers-21 Seahawks-20
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