“Memory Lane (Sittin At Lambeau)”

NFC Divisional Playoff 

(5) Seattle Seahawks at (2) Green Bay Packers 

Seahawks: I don’t think it matters where they land as a seed when playoff time comes around. Just get in and do your damage. Everything else will fall into place. Their Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles was pretty simple for me to predict. Ultimately, it came down to which quarterback do I trust more? Carson Wentz or Russell Wilson? It was a rematch that worked in the favor of the Seahawks when they first met, 17-9. On Sunday, their playoff showdown with the Eagles reminded me of a lot of the regular-season showdown. It was low scoring and the Seahawks coincidentally won by the same score again. It wasn’t a pretty victory, but they did more than enough to escape with the win. This was another one of their more complete victories. Their offense found ways to move the football down the field. Whether it was handing the ball off to Marshawn or even finding him in the screen game, Russ made magic happen with his feet and how about D.K. Metcalf? He had a big game in his postseason debut. The rookie caught seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. He and Russ have established such chemistry. D.K. gives them a true possession threat that the Seahawks have lacked for years. As much as I’ve criticized them throughout the year, I like what I saw from their defense. They were able to hold the Eagles to three field goals. I also saw a consistent pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney. He wasn’t 100 percent, but his impact speaks volumes. One game is down, another is set. They’ll face a team they’ve come to know all too well on Sunday night.

Packers: It was truly a bounce-back year for them. The last two seasons, they’ve missed the playoffs. After last year, they felt it was time to part ways with Mike McCarthy. The franchise then decides to hire Matt LaFleur. In his first season, the Green Bay Packers finish with a 13-3 record, the NFC North division title (first since 2016) and the two seed in the NFC playoffs. I still remember their first game of the season against the Chicago Bears. I noticed the effort more so on the defensive side of the football. They’ve had obvious struggles. Here’s my thing: The Packers defense finished the year giving up 19 points per game. They may have folded at times during the regular season, but they didn’t break. Out of each team with a bye, this is the one I’m concerned about the most. The offense hasn’t been as strong as it’s been in years past. Aaron Rodgers has looked good but not great. Nowhere near the level, we’re accustomed to seeing. The reason why I have my questions about them is the lack of a third offensive weapon. Outside of Aaron Jones and Davante Adams, who’s that other guy that the quarterback can turn too? Remember when the Packers had Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams? That was a nightmare for teams to defense. Each week, it’s the third weapon by committee. One week, it’s Jake Kumerow, or it’s Allen Lazard. Marques Valdes-Scantling to me has the most upside of any other Packers receiver outside of Davante. To wrap up the second round of the playoffs, they’ll face a familiar team.

Seahawks Player to Watch: Jadeveon Clowney– He missed the Seahawks final two games with an injury. On Sunday against the Eagles, he comes back and they’re a completely different looking defense without him. Jadeveon is dealing with a core injury. He’s not 100 percent, but who wants to sit out during the playoffs? Number 90 may not directly to the quarterback, but he can do enough to alter a quarterback’s decision making. He’s their energy guy.

Packers Player to Watch: Za’Darius Smith– What an addition he’s been for the Packers. They hit jackpot with this. He’s become their best defensive player. The Packers haven’t had that disruptive force in their front seven since the Clay Matthews days. You always need to know where he is. He’s able to play on either end and can get to the quarterback. Za’Darius is the perfect mix of size (6’4, 272 lbs), speed (has a great first step which gives him the advantage) and strength (he’s very powerful).

Final Analysis: There have been many memorable moments between these two teams. Remember Matt Hasselbeck’s “we want the ball and we’re going to score”? The first play, he throws an interception to Al Harris and the Packers advance. How could we forget the infamous “Fail Mary” in 2012? These two also played in a memorable NFC title game in 2015. Here we are again for another edition of Seattle and Green Bay. Both these teams have struggled to find consistency on offense in the second half of the season. The thing I admire about Seattle is their ability to win the tight battles. It’ll be key to bottle up Aaron Jones and limit the playmaking of Adams. In other words, I’m forcing Aaron Rodgers to beat my defense with another weapon. If Seattle can get that pass rush revved up again, they’ll have a good day. Who will step up to be the Packers’ third offensive option? I need to see their offense try to set the tone of the game early on.

Prediction: Seahawks 23 Packers 20

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