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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Seahawks- Can the Packers Clip the Seahawks Wings?

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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Seahawks- Can the Packers Clip the Seahawks Wings?

Thursday Night Football features two old foes who are battling for their playoff lives.  The Packers currently are in search of their first road win of the season, and the Seahawks are trying to rebound from a tough loss on Sunday against the Rams.  After getting off to a slow start and dealing with the drama and turmoil surrounding the very bitter ending to Earl Thomas's career in Seattle, Pete Carrol seems to have refocused his team and has them ready to compete for an NFC Wild Card spot.  

The Packers, on the other hand, have been dealing with drama on a week to week basis for much of the season because of their inconsistent play, injuries, and rumors about potential departing player and coaching personnel.  At this point in the season, you would think that the Packers are going to have to win one of the next two games on the road or their season will be more than likely over.  

Which team will turn its season around with a crucial November win? , These questions and more will be answered tonight, on Thursday Night Football in Seattle.

These are the Key Matchups that Will Determine the Outcome of the Game Tonight:

1. Can the Packer Defense Keep Russell Wilson in the Pocket?

Russell Wilson is obviously a dual-threat quarterback who has the ability to make plays with his feet and with his arm.  However, the key to giving The Packers a chance to win the game in the final minutes will be the ability to keep Russell Wilson inside of the pocket.  Russell seems to make his most dynamic, game-changing plays when he is rushed out of the pocket and is running up the field or rolling to his right and making a tremendous throw on the run.

Mike Pettine will be faced with the challenge of dialing up precise pressure that will keep Russell centered firmly inside the middle of the pocket.  In order to do this, Pettine will most likely have to rush five and six defenders for the majority of the game both up the middle as well as on both edges.  

I look for Pettine to give Wilson a few different looks, first, I think he will use traditional packages where he will blitz five and six players at Wilson.  Secondly, I think he will use different blitz packages with a spy devoted to containing Wilson within the edges of the pocket.  Finally, I think that we will see some combinations where Pettine stacks the box and blitzes a corner or a safety from the outside.  

The Packers will once again have to rely on the talent of their young secondary to make plays in one on one situations so that they are able to continue sending extra pressure at Russell Wilson throughout the course of the game.  

2. Can the Packers Stop Seattle's Lethal Rushing Attack?

Seattle's running back trio of Chris Carson, Mike Davis, and Rashaad Penny has been one of the leagues best through the first ten weeks of the season with an average of 121.88 yards per game tallying a combined 1,097 yards on the ground thus far.  The Packers can ill afford to get off to another slow start defending the rushing attack because if they do, Seattle will bludgeon them on the ground for the entire game which will make Russell Wilson and the Seahawks aerial attack all the more lethal.  

In order to contain Seattle's run game, the Packers must dominate at the point of attack and shrink the running lanes.  The key to containing the Seahawks running back trio will be to keep them going straight into the teeth of the Packers front seven and keep them away from the outside edge where they can more easily get into open space.

3. Can Aaron Jones Steal the Show?

In order for the Packers to come out of Seattle with a win, the offensive attack must be balanced and unpredictable.  In order to achieve this goal, the Packers offensive line must dominate the point of attack and allow Aaron Jones to run the ball at will against Seattle's front seven.  This is a game in which Aaron Jones will prove whether or not he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with the NFL's elite running backs.  

Will Aaron Jones be able to continue his stellar play when an opposing defense anticipates him seeing an increased role in the offensive gameplan?  Will he be able to rip off a 7-yard run when everyone in the stadium knows that he is getting the ball? These are all questions that we will have answered after tonight's contest, and in all likelihood, the answers to these questions will determine whether the Packers win or lose this game.

4. Can Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jimmy Graham Take Advantage of One on One Matchups?

With the Packers wide receiving core limited and Davante Adams sure to draw plenty of double teams, much of the load tonight could be put on the shoulders of MVS and Jimmy Graham.  Jimmy Graham must prove that the Packers made the right decision to go out and sign him this offseason.  Jimmy has had ten weeks plus an entire preseason and training camp in the system and it is time to start showing some in-season development.  

Plain and simple the Packers desperately need him to start producing.  This is the exact reason they went out and signed him, to be a go-to receiver when the Packers need him most.  Tonight, the Packers need Jimmy Graham to show up big in his old stomping grounds and make an impact on the outcome of the game.

Thus far, MVS has shown tremendous growth throughout the season and is on the verge of breaking out and making himself a household name.  Tonight could be the night for him to do that as he could see one on one coverage with fellow rookie Tre Flowers or longtime friend Shaquill Griffin depending on how Seattle wants to matchup with him.  MVS has discussed how the nonverbal communication between him and Aaron has improved each week.  Tonight will be the perfect night for the chemistry between the two players to be on full display during a crucial one on one matchup at a crucial stage in the game.  

5. The Battle of Special Teams and Rookie Punters

I hope that you all didn't think that we were going to go through one of my key matchups columns without a write up about special teams.  Hopefully, one day the Packers special teams unit is consistent enough for me to write about a different key matchup, but unfortunately, that day has not arrived yet.

My Plea to the Packers Special Teams Unit:

  1. First and foremost, whichever Packers special teams player receives a kick or a punt needs to HOLD ONTO THE BALL! (apologies for the caps).  
  2. Secondly, the Packers punt return team must stay alert on 4th downplays around midfield because they have been getting burned pretty frequently on fake punts in the last three games.  
  3. Thirdly, the Packers punt and kick coverage needs to continue their solid play and contain the always explosive Tyler Lockett.  
  4. Finally, the Packers must protect JK Scott and JK Scott must showcase his talent that had the Packers brass fawning over him during the preseason.  

Predictions:

  • Aaron Jones touches the ball 25 times and rushes for over 100 yards.
  • Aaron Rodgers has a tough time finding open receivers.
  • Jimmy Graham leaves us all scratching our heads.
  • Fire Zook starts trending on Twitter. 
  • McCarthy's seat gets hotter.
  • Russell Wilson has his way with the Packers defense.  
  • The Packers make another mistake on special teams.
  • The Packers home field success does not travel to Seattle.
  • Tony Corrente's crew finds a way to screw the Packers.
  • The Packers lose by a score of 31-20.   

David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (59) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

Seahawks is a must win game because the Packers are very likely to lose one of the away games against Minnesota or the Bears.

Winning against the Seahawks gives a bit of wiggle-room, a chance to recover if a game is lost somewhere in the rest of the season. Losing means zero manoeuver room, something the Packers really, really, need this season when you consider earlier losses to the Lions and Redskins.

The Pack does have the talent to get to postseason, and it looks like an improving team as well, but it needs the big V8 engine that is Rodgers to have all of those cylinders in tune and growling, and it takes McCarthy to know when to hit the pedal to the metal and when to have a lighter foot. On defense we are already running on nitrous oxide, no big changes needed there. Special teams are the suspension, and it looks like the Packers car is still using leaf springs - it needs better.

RCPackerFan's picture

Winning also means that they get a boost of confidence. They haven't been able to win a road game yet. 0-4. IF they go on a short week into one of the toughest environments, that could propel them for a run.

If they win, they are going to feel confident. They get a mini bye and travel to Minneapolis next week. That could put them in the right mindset going into that game!

Love you last paragraph. So true too!

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

I’m optimistic about the Packers’ game against Seattle. Pettine served as a consultant to Seattle last year, and probably has as much insight into their defense as anyone. If MM’s offensive game plan & play calling doesn’t stink (I know...what are the chances?), we could eek out a win. Fingers crossed. Go Pack Go!

Kb999's picture

Bad things always happen in Seatle. The playoff are slipping away. Need a road win.

The TKstinator's picture

I really dislike Pete Carroll. He’s a weasel.

The TKstinator's picture

I also really dislike Russel Wilson. He seems like a big phony; the kind of guy who donates $ to charity “anonymously” but then makes sure his name is “leaked” to the media.

And no, I have no “proof”; it’s just the feeling I get when I (am forced to) see and hear him.

flackcatcher's picture

Wilson is always 'on' and with the new NFL the way it is, I understand. Pete Carroll is flat out creepy. Met him more than a few times, and even for pro coaches he is really 'out there'. Just a strange dude.

The TKstinator's picture

With Wilson it’s just a vibe I get. It’s cool with me if nobody else sees it that way.

(Is anyone else familiar with Ernie Von Schledorn? Comes across as friendly, funny etc but in reality he’s not a good guy at all! For him, I have “inside info”. For Russel, it’s merely my gut.)

LeotisHarris's picture

Who do you know wants to buy a car?

The TKstinator's picture

Eggs
Act
Lee!!

A good friend of mine who is on the inside of the auto biz told me ol’ Ernie would gladly run over his own grandmother if it meant he could make another dollar. (I took that as a negative.)

In conclusion: EVS-Bad
MVS-Good

Dash Riprock's picture

From what I understand, Ted Danson is the same way.

The TKstinator's picture

That sucks.
I also hate to say it but another good buddy o’mine told me that a certain local beloved octogenarian baseball man was rude to his autograph seeking sons recently, and that sucks too.

The TKstinator's picture

Ooh, Russel’s crew coming to his defense!
Like I said, I have no proof. He just seems a little too...image conscious. If he’s actually a genuinely cool dude, I have no problem eating crow,...er, hawk.

The TKstinator's picture

I also think if the GB D prioritizes stopping the run, they have the horses to do it.

RCPackerFan's picture

IF Breeland can play, they have the CB's that can matchup one on one most of the game. Meaning they can bring up extra defenders to help stuff the run.
IF Breeland can't play, I'm not sure they do.

Though I will admit I like what I am seeing from Tony Brown.

ErnieErnie's picture

Cant say for sure the pass d looks better since ha ha is gone considering who we played but I think they are better.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah I agree. I don't think there has been a drop off at all.

Honestly if King was playing I would make the argument that our Secondary as a whole is better. But with his absence, Jackson got exposed a bit.

Dash Riprock's picture

Jackson will bounce back. He's a fighter. Yeah Breeland is a key guy tonight on defense. If not Tony Brown who I like has to step up. I like his speed and confidence so far. Sucks Kevin King can't go but what's new. The Packers almost must prepare for his absence even when he's so called healthy. I am pretty sure they see him like we see him. He has about a 50% chance of playing a full game without coming out due to some type of injury.

RCPackerFan's picture

I like Jackson, but he has been exposed a bit of late. I still think he will be a lot better next year then this year.

I do like Tony Brown. I think there was one mistake against the Dolphins, but other then that he made plays.

When King is playing and playing well our secondary improves. But yeah, he has missed to much time. I am looking forward to seeing Breeland, King and Alexander as our top 3 CB's. Against the Vikings would be a great week to have the trio!

LambeauPlain's picture

Josh Jackson needs a rebound game....Sunday was his worst game to date. I was shocked how poorly he played.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm feeling good about tonight's game. Is it false hope, or is it the same gut feeling I had about the Dolphins game? I will find out tonight. I know I'd feel much better if this game was on Sunday. This will be a tough game. If they do come out with a victory this could be the game to propel them for a run.

Coming off of the Dolphins win I think we saw Rodgers take a step in the right direction. While he still had a lull in the game and missed some open receivers, had a god awful throw way behind MVS. We got to see him running much better. His throws were more on target throughout the game then when we have seen the last few weeks.

This game IMO, comes down to Rodgers. We don't need a superman performance but we need better then what we have seen out of Rodgers throughout the year. He can't miss throws, and he has to let the ball go when he has receivers open. Simply he has to keep moving the chains.

I think that happens tonight.

Other keys to tonight's game.

Aaron Jones- he just had his biggest game as a pro. How does he respond? How do the Seahawks defense try to take away the run game? WIll that open up some stuff for Rodgers?

MVS- he had a bit of a quiet game against the Dolphins. MVS will get his first experience in one of the loudest environments. Will he be on the same page as Rodgers? If he is I expect a big night from him.

Run Defense- They have to slow down the Seahawks run game which includes Wilson. If they have to have a spy on him every down, then do it.
Might be a big night for Josh Jones.

Redzone - Whoever comes away with the better redzone performance will win this game IMO.

Hopefully we can celebrate with a victory Friday!

EdsLaces's picture

Victory Friday / I took the day off Friday! The best kind of Friday!

RCPackerFan's picture

That would be sweet no question!

Kb999's picture

RCpakfan, if the Pack looses there playoff hopes are slipping away. They haven't been able to beat a good team and can't beat anyone on the road. I wonder how long it will take for MM to abandon the run game. I don't see them winning this one. I hope I'm wrong.

The TKstinator's picture

Loses their

Since '61's picture

Stopping Seattle's run game is the key to stopping their offense. They depend on effective play action to make their passing game successful. Take away the run game and they become one dimensional and Wilson is in trouble.

As for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers is long overdue for a game where he is the dominating player. If he can get back to that level this evening the Packers will have a good chance.

Hopefully if we win the toss MM will take the ball and we drive for an opening score and take the crowd out of the game. Our best hope may be that Seattle wins the toss and they defer to us. I don't want to defer on the road and end up playing from behind again as we have in most road games this season.

Wish that we could flex this game to Sunday. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

My main fear is short week, hurt players going in, injury fest like what happened at Minn last year. All things being equal, with a few breaks going their way they could win this game. RC up tread covered that pretty well. Wish this could be flexed out too.....

ErnieErnie's picture

I agree. Seattle did look good and almost beat the Rams last week and put up I think 31 points on that tough defense, so they do have some offense to deal with. Gonna be interesting.
Good thing they let Sherman go he is a shell of what he used to be. Just goes to show how the players around him in his heday made him better.

Since '61's picture

Actually the Rams defense has been badly exposed during their last 3 games. Rodgers had them beat without Monty's stupid KO return and fumble. The Saints put up 45 points on them and Seattle 31 last Sunday.

The positive for the Packers is that Seattle's defense and their home field advantage are not what they used to be. Even so, the Packers need to play a solid game and hopefully not beat themselves. It would be great if our STs can have a clean game for once.

As for Sherman, he was a great CB. He has just gone through what happens to all of us, he has gotten a little older. Thanks, Since '61

PeteK's picture

Bingo, pretty much how I feel. Hawks always play Rams well, but have been unable to win these important games as of late. Lets hope it continues tonight.

The TKstinator's picture

Torn Achilles doesn’t help either.
Just amazing to me, however, that a 4.5 40 guy like him was able to avoid getting toasted deep for so long!

pacman's picture

I don't understand how the players union allows a Thurs night game.

Cobb - how does a healing hamstring injury keep you from traveling with the team? Seems like he is taking it easy this year and not taking any chances trying to get a contract elsewhere.

This is as close to a must game as you get this time of year. My hope lies in the fact that the spread is only a few points so that could go either way. We need Rodgers to step up and make a prediction that they can "run the table". Maybe even "it's getting real close to coming together". Something to give this team a boost.

Prediction - Alexander gets a pick 6, Wilson fumbles twice. Packers squeeze out a win. Run on to win SB. MM retires. Oh - sorry, a bit of dreaming there. Maybe just the first one.

RCPackerFan's picture

"Cobb - how does a healing hamstring injury keep you from traveling with the team? Seems like he is taking it easy this year and not taking any chances trying to get a contract elsewhere."

There are 4 players that didn't travel due to injury. This is not just a Cobb thing. They felt it was better if those players stayed back and worked on their treatments with the doctors to try and get healthier sooner. Maybe they will be ready for the Vikings game, which they maybe had no chance of doing so if they went.

"Prediction - Alexander gets a pick 6,"

I forgot to add my bold prediction to my post, but that was going to be mine. I was going to predict the same thing. A game changing Pick 6 for Alexander!

LambeauPlain's picture

Yeah...I don't think traveling 8 hours on a plane is the way to rehab injuries.

Since '61's picture

I think that will be addressed by the players' union during the next CBA.
That could be a very bitter and long drawn out battle between the owners and players. There are several huge issues on both sides. But that is a topic for another thread at another time. For now Go Pack Go! Beat the Seachickens!!! Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Beat me to it!
The current CBA is so prohibitive of padded practices, etc that I wonder if the players union can ALSO wipe out TNF. Do the dollars/ratings really justify it continuing?

ErnieErnie's picture

One analyst has the Pack as an upset victory by 2.5 points. This game as far as I'm concerned is for all the marbles as they say. To me the loser will play a spoiler role the rest of the season. Wild card is pretty much gone with another loss.
Realistically your not going to run the tables in your division and claim the title down three games.

Rufus's picture

Derty, I still have night mares of Brandon Bostic. Some how some way they will screw this game up. Agree, need a win to make the playoffs.

The TKstinator's picture

I’d like to know how the heck GB scores that half point.

Rufus's picture

by running a half ass play

The TKstinator's picture

They’ve shown that capability.

Razer's picture

Between Russell Wilson's RPO, healthy WRs and tuned up backfield, I don't see us stopping Seattle at home. If we were healthy on defense and had a full compliment of CBs - maybe, but not tonight.

Of course, Aaron Rodgers\Jones could change the script and keep Wilson on the bench for 60% of the night. It would be a first this year against a good team. Still, the strength of this team and its best player could steal this game - but - I wouldn't bet on it.

mrtundra's picture

I think the game will have some version of a gum chawing showdown between Carroll and Hundley that will garner the national spotlight in an ad for Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum. Seriously,I see Aaron Jones running for almost 200 yards vs Seattle. I see ARod hitting all receivers for huge yardage gains and scores. MVS and Davante lead the way but ESB and Moore each have a decent night receiving and moving the chains. I see Jimmy Graham with 2 TDs from the red zone. I see Pettine dialing up several pass rush plays on Wilson and the majority of them work to perfection. It's Run The Table time for Green Bay starting tonight! I think an INT for a pick 6 will happen but it will be Josh Jackson doing that. GO PACK, GO!!!

4zone's picture

Don't think the Pack can put together a good enough game to win it in Sea. We never get the breaks there and Seattle always plays us tough there. Odds are in their favor but there is still a chance.

Tundraboy's picture

Let's do it. Time to play a full game in Seattle and win.

stockholder's picture

Your predictions are for the replacement of MM. Not those of a true packer fan. First; the packers win this game. It's not about MM! It's 30 plus points and a win for the packers. It isn't about A-Rod finding Wrs. It's whether A-Rod can release the ball without waiting for Adams. The faster the ball gets out. The more Arron Jones will be over-looked. Graham is hurt. How much he plays is like sitting in the dark. We just have to hope he wants to come alive. Wilson gets picked twice. CMIII is now Peppers. He can make his case for a new contract. 10 mil. 3 years! Zook is a Davis fan. It's all about field position this game. Davis is welcomed back with open arms! The packers get their first road win. Showing the peanut gallery they are a good team. Even Tony's crew will not stop the packers tonight. The packers are on a roll.

porupack's picture

The one key matchup you didn't mention was this one with both sides wearing same colors: discipline and situational awareness vs. dumb penalties and pants down gaffes. This matchup is mostly in the practice field and meeting room.

Rick F's picture

Just heard on the dan Patrick show this interesting thing about the packers. Rich Eisen said Jennings told a story of farve getting a play call from MM and Farve ran something else because he didn’t like it. Jennings suggestioned Rodgers could be changing it in the huddle, and being stubborn and running the plays even if they don’t have it protected or blocked right in certain fronts. I think if any of that is true MM has lost the team. Do I believe this No but for a player to say that really opens the doors to the egos of MM and AR.

stockholder's picture

I was against the A-Rod contract extension. I'm for keeping MM. TT was blamed for failing MM and bringing in top talent. Now MM gets blamed for not developing the talent. Poor game plans. Losing control of the team. Nothing to do with TT. Whats dangerous is this has become a vicious cycle. A-rod is missing open players. He questions MM. We got rid of vets, that opened the door for players. New players that Gute found. And yes TTs. A-Rod is to blame like many of the veterans for these loses. Why do people believe this is never, never land? And MM is Captain Hook. Let me tell you this team needs everyone on the same page. Gute has no magic pixie dust. He's got a smart HC that has been successful with two all pro QBs. The surrounding cast of veterans or newcomers must want to win. Most people Love the packers to pieces. But not letting the pieces fall in place will wreck the future. All players have up and down games. Don't blow off MM because he's the man that knows whats best and will work with Gute.

Dash Riprock's picture

I see a big night for MVS. This game puts him on the map. Was reading up on MVS. They said he's very unusual in the fact he's 6 foot 4 and ran a 4.37 40. It said the last player that was 6 foot 4 and ran a 4.38 40 was in 1998. His name was Randy Moss. A guy with this much talent with a hall of fame qb will not stay silent for long. Breakout game tonight!!

Tarynfor12's picture

Pettine's blitz vs Wilson's blitz read success rate of 129..a fraction better than Rodgers.

First game this season I'll watch without a financial wager....I lean Sea but they seem more blunder headed than GB and a error will produce the winner in the last 2 min..Pack over think and make the mistake....27-24 Sea.

LambeauPlain's picture

Rodgers said he has been very impressed with Pettine's ability to confuse him pre snap during practice.

If Pettine can confuse the large brain Aaron he can confuse Russell.

Tarynfor12's picture

Maybe it's Rodgers way of helping the defense build confidence or maybe he isn't as much brain as in the past.

LambeauPlain's picture

I think the Pack will move the ball and score points on the Seagulls as long as MM stays committed to the run with AJ. My concern is MMs run pass imbalance is even worse in the 2nd half when passes over 70% of the time. Long, clock chewing TD drives will help the D stay fresher too.

The key for the D will be the front 7 run D....shutting down the run will send Wilson into the Packer strengths....pass rush, pressure, poor throws and Ints to our now talented DBs.

And of course win the turnover battle.

What deeply concerns me are the STs. Zook, as a ST coach, is a fish on the sand.

Mojo's picture

I keep hearing about what a challenge this game is.

Seattle, as it's currently constructed, is at best a mediocre team. Maybe slightly below average. Five years ago they were a force, but since then they've had to pay Wilson and the strength of their team, the D isn't anything like it used to be. They're in rebuilding mode and will have to fight to get to .500 by seasons end. They are infinitely beatable.

I see GB in the process of a mini-rebuild too, so they could lose to nearly anyone (probably not the Raiders). But if they do it's more on them than anything Seattle does.

ILPackerBacker's picture

You are exactly correct. We have the better talent and the more complete team even if you put Rodgers down to Wilson level.

But while we have an edge on coaching the D we have to admit MM is really not in the same league as the seacheats offensive staff.

And special teams, which are huge, are so one sided that everyone who pulls packer colors is hyper-ventalating. Zook is a disaster and he has already gone off several times this year.

Nobody can like the chances of beating a team with solid ST when we have Zook and they don't

henry113's picture

ILPackerB, we have a better team but they have our number. We play like crap on the road and I cant trust our fearless leader MM. I think we will need 10 wins to make the playoffs and if we loose, it may be the end.

GBfaninMn's picture

Good overall points made by the article. We all know by now this ship ain't right, but damn! I hope I missed the sarcastic font for the last few lines. Normally for that much negativity I have to skip the article and go straight to the comments. This is still a site for Packer fans right? A prediction of a higher spread than Vegas gave the rams over us a few weeks ago? C'mon man! I'm not blindly optimistic but I'm not that pessimistic to believe we don't stand a chance against a 4-5 team also struggling for playoff relevance. Go Pack Go. Oh,wait... are we still allowed to say that?

The TKstinator's picture

You are, if it’s accompanied by correct pad level.

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