The Seattle Seahawks are favored by 7.5 points to reach the Super Bowl for the second straight year, as they attempt to become the first team to repeat as champions since 2005 when the New England Patriots won consecutive titles. But first the Seahawks take on a dangerous Green Bay Packers squad in Sunday’s NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field.
The two sides met in the NFL season opener, with Seattle prevailing 36-16 and holding the Packers prolific offense to 255 total yards. It was a rematch of the 2012 season’s most controversial game that saw quarterback Russell Wilson lob a "Fail Mary" to then-Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate with Green Bay defensive backs Sam Shields and M.D. Jennings draping him in the end zone.
The replacement officials were confused on the field, but eventually ruled it a touchdown even though Tate appeared to not have possession as he went to the ground. Jennings also appeared to have the ball in his grasp.
It was a play that was talked about for the rest of the season. After the recent controversial call that gave the Dallas Cowboys a victory over the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round, as well as a ruling that may have cost the Cowboys a victory over the Packers in the Divisional round, expect to see the Wilson-to-Tate clip several times leading up to Sunday’s matchup.
That’s a bit of history in the Packers-Seahawks all-time annals, but there’s plenty more nuggets to unearth between these two teams. Let’s take a look at 12 facts you need to know ahead of the NFC title game.
Aaron Rodgers is above .500 in playoff road games
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the frontrunner for this year’s MVP award, with 38 touchdown passes to only five interceptions. But he has struggled on the road in the postseason of late. In 11 career postseason starts, Rodgers has gone 3-2 on the road and his only victories came during the Packers' last Super Bowl title run in 2010. At home, Rodgers has a 3-2 record, and won in his only appearance in the Super Bowl.
Russell Wilson is on a roll
In his last eight games, Wilson has thrown only two interceptions and the Seahawks have won seven straight. But where Wilson really excels is on the ground. The quarterback nearly doubled his career-best with 849 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. He was far and away the best rushing quarterback in the league in 2014, but he might need to take better care of the ball. Wilson lost five fumbles this season, the second-worst mark in the league among all players.
Packers staff resting Rodgers
Due to his calf injury, Rodgers was limited in practice on Thursday, and didn't practice on Wednesday. It's the same workload he had against the Dallas Cowboys last week. Against the Cowboys, Rodgers threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but he didn't scramble. In nine regular season games, Rodgers rushed for more than 20 yards in the game.
Nelson and Cobb score a lot of touchdowns
The Packers have one of the best passing offenses in the league thanks to receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who accounted for 25 receiving touchdowns in 17 games (including the postseason) so far this year. Nelson and Cobb alone have outscored the entire Seahawks receiving corps, which racked up 23 touchdowns all season.
The Packers have lost the past two meetings in Seattle
The Packers have lost two straight times to the Seahawks with both games taking place at CenturyLink Field. But Green Bay owns the all-time matchup at 10-7, including the postseason. Sunday's Seattle weather calls for drizzling with temperatures above 50 degrees.
Lynch and Lacey have rushed for over 1,100 yards
The matchup will feature two of the best running backs in the NFL, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. There’s a strong case to be made that Lynch and Lacy are the best rushers left in the entire postseason. Lynch gained 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season, and Lacy totaled 1,139 yards and nine scores.
They were two of just 13 players to rush for more than 1,000 yards in the regular season.
Legion of Boom stats compare to the the '85, '86 Bears
The Seahawks could claim back-to-back Super Bowls thanks almost entirely to their defense. For the last three years they’ve allowed the fewest points of any team, and have led the league in total defense the last two seasons.
The last team to lead the league in yards and points allowed in consecutive seasons? The 1985 and 1986 Chicago Bears.
Seattle's pass rush is surging
At first glance, the Seahawks pass rush doesn’t look so dominant, totaling 37 sacks in the regular season to rank 20th in the league. But 24 of those sacks came in Seattle’s last six games of the regular season, with defensive tackle Jordan Hill accounting for 5.5 sacks.
Similar playoff coaching records for Carroll, McCarthy
Head-to-head, this head coach matchup is very close. Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy is 6-5 in 11 career postseason games, and Seattle’s Pete Carroll is 6-4. Both have won Super Bowls and both are well-respected by their peers. On Sunday, Carroll has a huge advantage with the CenturyLink fans behind him.
Each team has five Pro Bowlers
There’s unquestionably a ton of talent on display Sunday, and each side will send out five Pro Bowlers. Green Bay’s group includes: Rodgers, Nelson, full back John Kuhn, guard Josh Sitton and linebacker Clay Matthews.
Seattle’s consists of Lynch, linebacker Bobby Wagner, cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor.
The Packers defense is better than some people think
The Seahawks defense certainly deserves a ton of praise, but the Packers' defense might be a little underrated. They ranked 10th against the pass, and opposing quarterbacks managed just an 82.0 average passer rating, which is the seventh best mark in the league. Green Bay was also No. 7 in the NFL with 18 interceptions, five better than Seattle, and boast the No. 9 pass rush with 41 sacks.
The Seahawks keep games closer than the Packers
Comparing their winning and losing margins, it’s clear the Seahawks manage to keep games very close if they are behind. Seattle lost four times during the regular season by an average margin of 5.5 points, and won their games by an average of 13.5 points.
Green Bay, on the other hand, also lost four times but by 15.3 points. Still they have the potential blow out almost any team, winning by an average of 16.6 points.