NFL Playoffs: Previewing and Predicting the NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers (12-4) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
- Date: Sunday, January 18, 3:05 p.m. ET
- Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
- Point Spread: Seattle favored by 7.5 points
- Over/under: 46
As expected, the Green Bay Packers and the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will be playing for the NFC Championship in a rematch of the first game of the 2014 NFL regular season. The Packers and Seahawks were undoubtedly the two best teams in the NFC this season, and this NFC Championship matchup may end up being the game of the 2014-15 season.
The Seahawks thoroughly dominated the Packers 36-16 at CenturyLink Field in their previous meeting this year, but a lot has changed for both teams since then. Both teams have been doing what they do best for most of the season. For Seattle, that is defense. For Green Bay, it’s offense. Once again, the Seahawks’ defense is the best defensive unit in the league, and Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers has already claimed nearly every individual award that an offensive player can for his efforts this season. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, fans can expect to see big time performances from some of the best players in the NFL.
Here is a preview and final prediction for this weekend’s NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.
1. How healthy are Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch?
The health of Rodgers and Lynch will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. Rodgers is dealing with a strained calf muscle that severely limited his mobility in Green Bay’s Divisional round win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. Lynch, meanwhile, has been dealing with a nagging back injury but is fully expected to play and carry the load for the Seahawks this week.
Not to downplay Lynch’s value to the Seahawks, but Rodgers is more critical to his team’s success. For the Packers to have a chance at pulling off the upset and earning a trip to Super Bowl XLIX, Rodgers will have to be at the top of his game — something that will be difficult with a mobility-limiting calf injury against the best defense in the league.
2. How will Green Bay’s offense fare against Seattle’s defense?
This is a matchup of strength vs. strength. The Packers have the best quarterback in the game and one of the best overall offenses in the league, while the Seahawks have unquestionably the best defense in the league. There will be intriguing matchups all over the field, but none more so than the explosive Packers’ wide receivers against the ridiculously talented Seahawks’ secondary. This is the type of matchup avid football fans fantasize about.
The Seattle defense dominated Green Bay’s offense at CenturyLink Field in their previous matchup this season. The Seahawks will have the advantage of playing in front of their fans, the “12th Man”, again in this game as well. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine a player of Aaron Rodgers’s caliber turning in a repeat of his Week 1 performance. Get ready for a back-and-forth game.
3. Can Green Bay buck the trend?
This game marks the sixth time in NFL history where two of the same teams who met in Week 1 will meet again in a conference championship game. In all six occurrences, the team that won the previous matchup won again in the conference championship game. The Packers will be looking to put an end to this streak.
Final Prediction: Seattle 27, Green Bay 24
The Packers will have some success offensively, but not enough to earn the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX. Marshawn Lynch will pace the Seahawks’ offense and their “Legion of Boom” secondary will come up big again. The Seattle Seahawks will be on their way to their second-consecutive Super Bowl appearance.