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Three Pathways to a Packers Loss Monday Night in Seattle

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Three Pathways to a Packers Loss Monday Night in Seattle

A number of publications are picking the Seattle Seahawks to beat the Green Bay Packers Monday night.

ESPN's Scouts Inc. (need ESPN Insider), and one of CheeseheadTV's own founding fathers are among the most prevalent available to you this week.

My official prediction will come either Friday or Saturday as part of my things to watch preview done every week (for what it's worth, my record for picking games in 2012 is 0-2).

But even if my prediction goes Green Bay (not sure yet), there are certainly ways the Seahawks can win this game. They are more simple than you may think, too.

In watching the Seahawks' first two games of 2012, the following trends emerged that could pave the way for a Seattle win over Green Bay Monday night.

 

1. Let RB Marshawn Lynch dominate first and second down

Russell Wilson is a rookie quarterback, and the Seahawks treat him as such. On most early downs, Wilson is simply handing off to Marshawn Lynch to help set up manageable third downs. It's a sound plan for a young quarterback, but there's a lot of three-and-outs that are tied into drives where the offense doesn't get much on first and second down.

If Seattle does get to third-and-manageable, Wilson has shown the ability to complete short to intermediate throws that move the chains.With that in mind, forcing him to convert difficult third down situations Monday night might be the key for the Green Bay defense.

The task essentially starts and ends with containing Lynch, who may be the most physical running back in the NFL right now. If Green Bay attempts to tackle him high, there's going to be a lot of ugly missed tackles Monday night. According to Pro Football Focus, Lynch leads the NFL in missed tackles created with 14, and the tape completely backs that up.

The Packers were gashed on the ground by the 49ers to open the season, allowing 186 yards on 32 carries. To be fair, however, the Seahawks are not as talented or tough along the offensive line and the weapons out wide are mostly limited.

But if the Packers can't stop the run better early Monday night, the Seahawks should be able to accomplish a lot of the same things San Francisco did in the opener.

Minimizing space for Lynch and bringing him down on first contact will both go a long ways in keeping points off the board for the Seattle offense.

 

2. Give the Seahawks short fields with turnovers and special teams mistakes

The Seahawks have scored points on eight of 21 offensive drives this season, and six have come off turnovers or big special teams plays. In fact, only two drives that resulted in a score have spanned more than 60 yards (both vs. Dallas).

The "easy" scoring drive breakdown:

  • 27-yard field goal (ARI). Set up: Cardinals fumble at Arizona 42. Scoring drive: Seven plays, 33 yards.
  • 10-yard touchdown (ARI). Set up: Leon Washington, 83-yard kick return. Scoring drive: Five plays, 24 yards.
  • 47-yard FG (ARI). Set up: Richard Sherman interception. Scoring drive: Four plays, five yards.
  • 39-yard FG (ARI). Set up: Washington 52-yard punt return. Scoring drive: Four plays, -4 yards.
  • 21-yard FG (DAL). Set up: Felix Jones fumble. Scoring drive: Seven plays, 20 yards.
  • 25-yard FG (DAL). Set up: Washington punt return to Seattle 44. Scoring drive: 11 plays, 52 yards.

This list doesn't even include a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter against Dallas.

Simply put, both the Cardinals and Cowboys handed Seattle points on a golden platter with silly turnovers and special teams blunders. Green Bay can't allow the same, especially on the road. The encouraging part here is that the Packers have limited turnovers under Mike McCarthy (at least historically), and the special teams are probably the best they have been in Green Bay for quite some time.

The Packers have to ensure the Seahawks are traversing long fields, much like they did against Chicago. The Bears started drives past the Packers 35-yard line on just two of 12 opportunities Thursday night, with Aaron Rodgers' fourth-quarter interception setting up one. Overall, punter Tim Masthay pinned the Bears deep and Mason Crosby allowed little in terms of kick returns. A repeat performance is warranted Monday night.

 

3. Abandon the running game

The Packers have faced two of the better run defenses in football the first two weeks, but it doesn't get any easier Monday night. The Seahawks are currently second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (46.0/game), and it's no secret how they stuff things up inside.

Everything upfront is anchored by defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who has graded out as PFF's top run-stopping defensive lineman through two weeks. Six other Seahawks defenders have graded out positively against the run, including linebacker K.J. Wright and safety Kam Chancellor. At every level, the Seahawks have players that can put a stop to the running game.

As Aaron Nagler (the aforementioned founding father) tweeted below, the Seahawks have the horses up front to get McCarthy to abandon the run, much like he did against the 49ers in Week 1.

McCarthy can't do that. While the Seahawks have just two sacks, PFF rates their defense as the best at creating pressure against the pass. Overall, Seattle is averaging almost five quarterbacks hits and 15 hurries a game in 2012.

Eliminating the run means Seattle can pin its ears back and attack Rodgers. It also means the Seahawks can play their safeties back in a more traditional two-deep look, again helping to eliminate the Packers' threat of a big play down field.

Having some kind of commitment to the run helps in both areas.

The last thing the Packers need Monday night is to become completely one dimensional against a defense that can attack against the pass.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

denniseckersley's picture

Meh,

This game, along with most any game they've played in the last 2-3 years just requires them to play a good/great game. That's really what it boils down to with this team.

It doesn't take too much to screw up a game in the NFL, as we've done a few times in the recent past via key WR drops and untimely fumbles, but GB is the better team and really just needs to focus on playing their brand of football.

Seattle is a good team, and Qwest Field is a bitch, but I don't think the script really changes all that much. If they limit mistakes, they should come out on top.

Zach Kruse's picture

Fair enough.

Chad Toporski's picture

Qwest field may be a bitch, but the Seahawks are 13-11 at home the past three seasons. Last year they were 4-4 there.

Bearmeat's picture

Don't forget that Seattle has played Arizona and Dallas. Those two teams have bottom 5 OL's this year.

GB's OL is a top 5 unit, but it's top half. It boils down to keeping their run game mediocre and having a mediocre (instead of nonexistent) run game ourselves.

Again.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Everything Seattle does depends on the running game, Pete Carrol said as much on his radio show a day or two ago. If beastmode gets going early, that opens up so much and it could be a long day. So our boys better get off the plane ready to tackle.

Defensively, they're a solid young squad, but in comparison to the last two D's we've played... They don't scare me. A lot of size on D, especially in the secondary, but there is a reason Browner was stuck in Canada for years just as an example. The NFC West isn't exactly known for its potent offenses, I know we've been off, but just too much to throw at them.

All in all, I expect a good game. Pack by 10.

GBP 4 LIFE

Mojo's picture

I feel good about the Packers chances in this game. The Seattle offense doesn't worry me that much. As you pointed out almost all of their points have come on very short fields. If the GB running game isn't working, use the checkdowns and dumpoffs, especially to Cobb and Jennings. If they're patient, I see the Pack winning going away.

Chris's picture

Another reason why they might lose:
The refs. They basically don't call defensive holding or illegal contact on pass defenders. The balance shifted again to the more run oriented teams (Houston, 49ers, Seattle) and away from the pass heavy teams (GB, Saints, Pats). The pass heavy teams just have problems getting the ball down field, because their receivers are getting held or contacted after 5 yards.

Chad Toporski's picture

While the Seahawks have been underrated in recent seasons, I think people are starting to swing too far into the overrated category. Good team? Yes. Great team? Eh.

Jamie's picture

"While the Seahawks have just two sacks, PFF rates their defense as the best at creating pressure against the pass. Overall, Seattle is averaging almost five quarterbacks hits and 15 hurries a game in 2012."

Curious to see where PFF ranks the Packers thus far in 2012, and the corresponding hits and hurries averages. It seems we should be on par with or better than SEA...especially with 12 sacks vs two.

Chad Toporski's picture

The big asterisk is that the sample size is still very small, and you do have to account for their opponents during those two games.

Not saying they don't or can't get pressure, but we have to look at it in context.

CSS's picture

Their secondary is physical, but if you can beat the jam off the line of scrimmage you can beat both corners. They're long, but the won't recover well if you get a step on them. Again, Jones and Finley are built to beat press and should have a hay-day between the hashes. They need to have a good game.

Cobb is the wild-card, again.

MarkinMadison's picture

"The task essentially starts and ends with containing Lynch, who may be the most physical running back in the NFL right now."

But, but, Lynch stinks and we're all glad the Packers passed on him. He can't be any good. All the smart guys here told me so.

In all seriousness, Charles Woodson eats up rookie quaterbacks. Look what he did to Cam Newton last year. Wilson's good, but he's not Cam good. Focus on shutting down the run (granted, not the Packers strong suit) and spying the slippery QB, because he will not beat the Packers with his arm. Not yet.

Rocky70's picture

The SeaHawks are just another 8-8 team masquerading as 'a contenda'. They aren't.

If GB's "D" continues its "bear performance" from last week ---- along with a more focused "O", this game is over before the 4th quarter.

However, I will add that the SeaHawks have a better BU QB than GB.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Hawks aren't fronting. That team is "creepin on the come-up". Lotta talent there, mostly on D... That will be their shortcoming Monday night. But they're not a joke.

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