O’Neil: Seahawks and Packers have history, but they’ve reversed roles
They’ve been the NFC’s two best teams over the past decade.
The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs for the eighth time in the past 10 years. They’ve won 102 regular-season games and have nine playoff victories.
The Seahawks have also made the playoffs in eight of those 10 seasons, they’ve won 100 regular-season games and nine in the playoffs.
The Packers have won one Super Bowl and reached the NFC Championship Game three times.
The Seahawks have won one Super Bowl and appeared in another.
The fact that these two teams are meeting again in the playoffs is a testament to their staying power in today’s NFL where getting good isn’t nearly as hard as staying good. But history won’t decide this game in Green Bay. In fact, it might not even provide much of a hint about who’s going to win given how much these two teams have changed in the five years since they played for the conference championship in January 2015.
The Packers were known for their offense then, Aaron Rodgers coming off a season that would earn him his second MVP award, while the Seahawks’ defense had allowed the fewest points in the league for the third successive season.
Well, the Packers’ offense was decidedly mediocre during the 2019 regular season, and Seattle’s defense was even worse than that. The Seahawks’ offense outgained the Packers this season while Green Bay held each of its final five regular-season opponents to 20 points or fewer to finish 13-3 and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Not that anyone is going to be confusing these Packers with the 2013 Seahawks. Green Bay ranked 18th in yards allowed, which isn’t all that impressive. The one thing the Packers did really well was keep opponents out of the end zone, though. When an opponent got the ball inside the Green Bay 20 – the so-called red zone – the Packers kept them from scoring a touchdown 50 percent of the time, tied for sixth-best in the league. That’s something that Seattle is pretty good at, scoring a touchdown on 63.3 percent of their red-zone possessions.
The other thing to watch for will be the turnovers. Each team was plus-12 in that category this season, tied for third-best in the league, but for very different reasons. For the Seahawks, it was because of the takeaways. They forced 32 turnovers, which was third-most in the league. The Packers, meanwhile, took great care of the ball. They committed just 13 turnovers, second-fewest, and Rodgers was picked off only four times this season.
And now they’re meeting in the playoffs for the second time in these past 10 years, meaning one team will advance to the conference championship and get a chance to punctuate the decade with an exclamation point.