Sunday, January 18, 2015

Packers vs. Seahawks NFC Championship: Preview and Prediction

This is it, Packers fans: the NFC Championship game and a ticket to the Super Bowl. Only problem is that road goes through Seattle and last season's Super Bowl winner, the Seahawks. While looking fairly average for about half the season, the 'hawks turned it up in the second half and now look as dominating as they did this time last year.

Not many are giving the Green Bay Packers much of a chance this afternoon, especially with a one-legged quarterback and a still maligned defense, despite the former's second-half game performance in last week's comeback division win at Lambeau Field vs. the Cowboys and the latter's second-half-of-the-season performance overall. The Seahawks are favored by 7-1/2 points at the time of this writing.

Why are the Seahawks favored?
Really? You have to ask that?

Take Seattle's home record over the last two seasons especially, their quarterback, their running back, their defensive front, and their secondary. Offense, defense, home field advantage...check, check, check. That all adds up to a win in many people's books.

Packers WR Jordy Nelson needs a big game against Seattle.
Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

What do the Packers have going for them?
Aaron Rodgers, the presumptive league MVP at quarterback (albeit hobbled with his imfamous left calf injury), outstanding receivers, a great offensive line, a powerful running back, a defense that can dominate if the players choose to play up to their abilities. What they don't have is the home field advantage they would have had had they just won that game in Buffalo. Yeah, that could wind up being the difference between a trip to the Super Bowl or not this season. Well, OK, right now it might have more to do with how well the O-line can protect Rodgers in the pocket and how well his receivers can get open.

It also will have to do with the Packers defense containing Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and tackling RB Marshawn Lynch before he gets up a head of steam. It will also mean no turnovers and getting a takeaway or two today. Getting touchdowns when in the redzone rather than settling for field goals will also be key, something the Pack has had problems with a lot this season. Playing a near-perfect game is the order of the day. And there can be no special teams failures. Period.

The Prediction
Seems as if the only ones giving the Packers much of a chance in this game are the coaches (head coach Mike McCarthy bristles at the term "underdog" for his team), the players and the fans...or probably, most of the fans.

This particular fan senses enough grit -- and talent, of course -- in this team to pull off the so-called upset today. There are a lot of "ifs" involved in that scenario. But they are all possibilities not impossibilities.

Given all this, we're calling it 27-24 Packers over Seahawks.

Go Pack Go!!!