Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-7, 47 o/u)
When Seattle and Green Bay met in Week 1 of the regular season, the Seahawks completely stifled the Packers’ high octane offense and won going away, 36-16. More than four months later, the two teams face off again Sunday in the NFC Championship (3:05 p.m. Eastern on FOX).
Green Bay stumbled into the season but eventually found its stride, which culminated in a 35-31 victory over Dallas last week in the Divisional Playoffs. Seattle will have a much greater challenge on their hands come Sunday than what they faced in the season opener.
“This team from Week 1 has grown a lot, so we’re definitely looking forward to it,” said Packers tight end Andrew Quarless.
Unfortunately for Green Bay, Seattle also comes in humming. The defending champs may be playing at a higher level than at any point in the last two years, and that’s saying a lot. Seattle dispatched Carolina last week by a score of 31-17, covering the 11-point spread (which was the biggest spread in the Divisional Playoffs).
“Guys are playing selfless. There aren’t any egos, there aren’t any agendas, and guys just want to do whatever it takes to win,” explained All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
How quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense will deal with Richard Sherman is a significant storyline. The Packers didn’t throw in Sherman’s direction at all during the previous meeting, but that figures to change this time around.
“I don’t think anybody’s intimidated. I mean he’s a great player,” Quarless said of Sherman. “Their secondary is definitely a great secondary. You’ve got to give them their respect. But you know the whole ‘Legion of Boom’ — we’ll see.”
Between corners Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the Seahawks may have the most dominating secondary the league has ever seen and will provide Rodgers the ultimate test. Unfortunately for Rodgers, he’ll have to pass that test with a strained calf muscle.
The Packers QB has been suffering with the injury since the final week of the regular season, and it has left him noticeably less mobile in the pocket.
With Rodgers less than 100%, Seattle is currently a seven-point favorite for Sunday’s game. The over/under is at 47.
(Photo credit: Mike Morris (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)