The Seattle Seahawks gun for their second straight trip to the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers standing firmly in their way in Sunday afternoon’s NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field.
The victor moves on to face either the Indianapolis Colts or New England Patriots, who will decide the AFC’s candidate Sunday night.
Both sides won their respective divisions with 12 victories during the regular season, but did it in completely different fashions. Seattle once again rolled out the “Legion of Boom,” a defense that was No. 1 in the league in both points and yards allowed per game for the second straight year.
Green Bay outscored the entire league with 30.4 points per game behind MVP candidate and quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his 38 touchdown passes, and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb accounting for more than 2,700 yards and 25 scores.
Running back Eddie Lacy also posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard season, just two years out of Alabama, racking up 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns.
That corps squares off against arguably the best defensive unit the league has witnessed in more than a decade. The Seahawks held opponents to 15.9 points and 185.6 yards a game this year behind a Pro Bowl secondary led by cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Together, Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor combined for six of the team’s 13 interceptions, with fellow corner Byron Maxwell padding that total with two picks of his own and a team-best 12 passes defended.
Chancellor sealed Seattle’s 31-17 victory over Carolina in the Divisional round last week by returning an interception 90 yards for a touchdown with less than six minutes remaining.
Of late the Seahawks pass rush has become maybe the most dominant of teams left in the postseason. Powered by defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker Bruce Irvin, Seattle racked up 37 sacks during the regular season, but 24 of those sacks came in the final six games of the regular season. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill has led the onslaught with 5.5 sacks in the last six games.
Offensively, the Seahawks roll out the league’s best rushing attack with quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch spearheading. Wilson threw 20 touchdowns but rushed for a career-best 849 yards and six touchdowns, with Lynch supplying 1,306 yards and 13 scores.
Stopping the run has been a troubling issue for the Packers defense all season, but they make up for it with one of the league’s best pass rushes and secondarys. Veteran linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive end Julius Peppers headline a group that was ninth in the league with 41 sacks, and came up with four more against Dallas in last week’s 26-21 Divisional round victory.
The Packers did continue to struggle against the run, however, giving up 123 rushing yards to the NFL’s top regular season rusher in Dallas’s DeMarco Murray.
Start Time: 3:05 P.M. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Betting Odds: Seattle -7.5
Over/Under: 47 points
Prediction: Green Bay over Seattle, 20-17