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SEAHAWKS AT PACKERS
These two teams are similar in a few ways. There's the obvious Holmgren and Hasslebeck connection to Green Bay, which the media is playing up until they are blue in the face. But they are also similar on the field where neither of these teams can run the ball. Both rank around 20th in that category and rely heavily on their passing attack, of which Green Bay is 2nd in the NFL behind only the Patriots.
The goal of a team all year is to first make the playoffs, and then to attain home field advantage. The Seahawks had their home field advantage last week and it may have helped them overcome a mediocre performance to win the game. The Skins beat the Seahawks in most categories statistically, with the exception of the stat that counts most, the scoreboard. Last weeks score was not indicative of how both teams played. The game was much closer than the score shows.
Which leads us to Green Bay, or more importantly, Seattle on the road. Seattle has not shown us this year, that they are capable of going on the road and winning a playoff game. Quite the opposite is true. Seattle was just 3-5 on the road this year with their wins coming at the 49ers, Rams and Philly. The Rams game, could have easily been a loss as well. The Rams had the ball 4th and goal with a minute to go. They also had road losses at the Browns, Cards and Panthers. The best team they faced on the road was the Steelers, who shut them out 21-0.
Now they go on the road for a playoff game to play a team that was 7-1 at home this year and 13-3 overall. With Seattle, there's a lack of quality opponents. Just two playoff teams all year, and then the Redskins. The Pack played the Giants, Chargers, Cowboys and Skins and also played some borderline teams like the Vikings and beat them all with the exception of Dallas. The lesser quality opponents they faced, they were able to beat by double digits. They did manage to just get by teams like the Eagles, Skins and Chargers though, so perhaps if you're looking for an angle to play Seattle, it's that the Packers weren't able to put away "good" teams.
The Seahawks have an experience edge here. There are still loads of players on this team from their Super Bowl team a couple of years ago, while Green Bay is the youngest team in the league. Perhaps no experience edge is more magnified than head coach. This will be Holmgrens 24th playoff game compared to Mike McCarthy's 1st!!! Seattle has also been a great underdog when getting a touchdown or more. How about 10-1 against the number?!
But ultimately, our selection comes down to where this game is being played and Seattle's poor road performance this year. Looking at their yards per point numbers on the road, they were a 15 on offense and a 15 on defense. Green Bay at home was 13 on offense and 20 on defense. That's a 7 point difference between the two teams with Green Bay performing better on both sides of the ball. Factor in a tougher schedule and the difference is about 9 points. So, not much in the way of an edge with the pointspread, but then edges in the spread are difficult to come by come playoff time.
Green Bay is 7-1 straight up at home and 6-1 against the number. They have been winning by an average margin of 27-14 while Seattle has been poor on the road. The coaching and experience edge are worth noting, however the coaching and experience apparently didn't help them play well on the road all year long. Playing a team because you think they can "hang" within the spread is the wrong reason to play them. If we were to play Seattle, that's what we'd be doing, as we simply don't see them winning this game. The number is a little high here, but Green Bay is the way we're going. Just a small play, but it's the Pack.
The Over is worth noting as well. These teams had point totals of over 40, 21 times between them this year. When you can't run the ball, the clock doesn't move. More time to put points on the board. Check the weather on game day.
Lastly, note that Hasselbeck took a helmet to the thigh in that Skins game. The hit was so hard it broke his pads in half. He's been in the training room getting treatment all week. He may not be able to get out of his own way on Saturday. A healthy Favre over an injured Hasselbeck doesn't hurt out cause.
1* Packers -8
1* Packers/Seahawks Over 42
Playoff games rated from a low of 1* to a high of 7*
1* winners includes a +130 money line play