Rost: Seahawks-Packers playoff preview by the numbers
The Seahawks are three wins away from a second Super Bowl title, but the road to Miami will take them through Green Bay first – and facing the Packers at Lambeau Field will be no easy feat.
Here’s a preview of Sunday’s Seahawks-Packers playoff matchup by the numbers.
The number of rushing yards allowed per game by the Packers’ defense this year. That’s 30 more than the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense, which held Seattle to just 64 rushing yards last Sunday.
Can Seattle find more success on the ground at Lambeau? It’s one of the three big questions faced by the team coming out of its win against Philadelphia. The offense will need more from Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer than it saw last week, leaving quarterback Russell Wilson (45 yards) to account for the bulk of Seattle’s season-low rushing total.
More reps for Lynch in particular is something head coach Pete Carroll is comfortable with. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer credited the Seahawks’ failure in the run to a stifling Philadelphia defense headed up by defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, as well as a few self-inflicted wounds.
“The line of scrimmage wasn’t very clear,” Schottenheimer said. “Our fits weren’t very good. We had some double teams, trying to get guys moved off the spot. Our double teams weren’t fitted together.”
Schottenheimer echoed Carroll’s plan to get Lynch more involved.
“I think we all want to do that for sure,” he said. “You’ll see him in there more.”
Keep an eye on that one, because it’s the number worn by Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith.
Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, not linebacker Bobby Wagner, is a good comp to the role the 6-foot-4, 272-pound edge plays in Green Bay’s 3-4 base defense. Smith leads the team with 13.5 sacks and led the league with his 93 pressures in the regular season.
Carroll gushed about Smith during a press conference earlier this week.
“I don’t know if anybody gives you more problems than Za’Darius does in all the things that they do with him,” Carroll said, referencing Smith’s ability to play both inside and outside. “He’s all over the place. They’ve recognized that he is an impact player, so they’ll spot him in a number of different locations with the different packages that they do. … He’s the featured guy, so he’s a real problem… He’s really hard to block. I mean, seriously, he’s hard to block. He’s very aggressive. He’s a penetrator. He and JD Clowney are very similar in the style that they play.”
That Smith is such a disruptive force is bad news for a hampered Seattle offensive line, but the Seahawks could see the return of left tackle Duane Brown on Sunday. Both Brown (knee) and left guard Mike Iupati (neck) will be game-day decisions, Carroll told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson on the Pete Carroll Show Friday morning.
The number of interceptions thrown by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season.
Is it shocking? No. Rodgers has famously excelled here. The longtime Packers star threw just two interceptions in 2018 and has been intercepted just 12 times over his last three years combined. That total is fewer than the number of interceptions thrown by 10 other starting quarterbacks this season alone.
This week, that number matters for the Seahawks because they could really – I mean really – use a takeaway. Interceptions and forced fumbles have been one of the strengths of a Seattle defense that has struggled to remain consistent in other areas. Over the last three weeks, though, they’ve failed to register either. And while seven sacks against the Eagles was an encouraging aspect of Seattle’s win last week, it will be a tough order to recreate that against a healthier Green Bay team at Lambeau Field.
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