Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers Playoff Pick
Seattle Seahawks (12-5 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS)
NFC Divisional Round
Date and Time:Sunday, January 12 at 6:40pm ET
Point Spread:SEA +4/GB -4 (SportBet)
Seattle and Green Bay have had a few wild ones over the last handful of years. What started with the “Fail Mary” game in 2012 continued with an overtime thriller in the 2014 Playoffs, and this Sunday provides another chance for a standout game as the Seahawks travel to Lambeau to meet the Packers. A spot in the NFC Championship is at stake, and a home game would also be up for grabs if Minnesota can upset San Francisco. The Russell Wilson-Aaron Rodgers matchup is arguably the best head-to-head QB battle of the weekend, but this one could come down to the complementary players as both defenses are in the top-10 in terms average QBR allowed.
With all due respect to what Lamar Jackson did this season in Baltimore, it is my opinion that Russell Wilson is the most valuable player to his team. Without Russ, I’m not sure the rest of the ‘Hawks roster would muster any more than four or five wins, but Wilson has dragged this team to the NFC Championship doorstep, covering up for an underperforming defense and a long list of injuries along the way. Wilson finished the regular season with 31 passing touchdowns against five interceptions while completing 66% of his passes. He remained one of the better scramblers in the league, rushing for 342 yards with three touchdowns and gets to work against the 23rd ranked run defense of Green Bay, so look for another good day on the ground for him. Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer have taken over in the backfield with Homer looking better in limited action, including averaging six yards per carry in the finale against the 49ers. Lynch is south of three yards per carry in his return to Seattle, but his short-yardage prowess could come in handy to keep the chains moving and help the Seahawks win the time of possession battle. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have developed into a near-elite duo on the outside, combining for nearly 2,000 yards during the regular season with fifteen touchdowns between them. One of those two will draw CB Kevin King who leads the Packers with five interceptions, leaving the other to work against Jaire Alexander who has recently been beat a few times after being PFF’s highest-rated CB in the early season.
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The Other Aaron
Aaron Rodgers remains one of the most significant names in the league, but it has been the work of Aaron Jones that has largely propelled Green Bay to this point. Jones hit the 1,000-yard mark on the ground with 16 scores, adding 474 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Jamaal Williams added 713 scrimmage yards and six combined scores to give Green Bay one of the more effective backfields, and it helped Rodgers set career highs in pass attempts, completions, and passing touchdowns to running backs. Davante Adams missed time but still finished strong and led the team with 83 catches and 977 yards. Allen Lazard has emerged late to be the second starting WR, and he caught nine balls over the last two weeks. Seattle is a pillowy-soft 27th against the pass and also ranks near the bottom in sacks, so look for the Green Bay pass game to be productive even if the temps dip below freezing as they are projected to by game time. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith finished the season with 25.5 sacks, and while they cooled off a bit at the end of the year, look for them to be in Wilson’s face with Seattle allowing 48 sacks on the year. Green Bay typically enjoys a time-of-possession edge and they could again if they choose to primarily work against Seattle’s front that is allowing 4.9 yards per carry.
Seattle has been on the best road teams in recent years, going 8-1 against the spread in their last nine as road underdogs with 11 ATS wins in their last 15 on the road overall. Seattle has a 2-5 ATS mark in the last seven Divisional Playoff games, and the Over has hit in seven of the last eight Seattle Divisional Playoff contests. Green Bay is 5-1 against the spread in their last six playoff games with the Over sporting the same 5-1 record over that span. Green Bay is 7-1 ATS in the last eight against teams above .500 and has a 5-0-1 ATS mark against Seattle in Lambeau. The line hasn’t moved from the open, and Seattle has gotten a consistent 57% of the public money through mid-week. Despite the Over being a good bet in recent playoff games for Green Bay, the Under has paid the last four Green Bay games overall.
Despite finishing the season on a five-game win streak, a lack of style points during those wins have limited the enthusiasm for the Packers to survive past this weekend. I think they stand a good chance of winning Sunday, considering Seattle’s defense is essentially a one-man crew with Bobby Wagner leading the league in total tackles and not much else. No Seahawks defender has more than four sacks, and this defense has absolutely pulled games out of the fire by ranking 4th in takeaways. Green Bay isn’t loose with the ball, ranking 2nd in giveaways, and I think a straight-up game will expose Seattle’s bottom-10 defense. I do think Seattle will be just fine on offense with Wilson playing at his current level. Lockett and Metcalf will draw a lot of attention, leaving TE Jacob Hollister to work the underneath against Packer linebackers that have struggled in coverage. Lynch and Homer should do enough to keep Seattle in manageable down-and-distance scenarios, which will keep Wilson’s legs in play on third down. Look for Green Bay to eventually pull away late, but I think Seattle will hold a fourth-quarter lead, and that makes them the right ATS play, in my opinion. Rodgers and Jones wind up saving the day late, and Green Bay moves to next weekend with a 24-22 win, but Seattle pays with the +4.
Ted’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Seattle