Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Spread: Packers -4 | Over/Under: 46
The Seattle Seahawks head to Green Bay in the last game of the NFL playoffs’ Divisional Round. They are coming off an underwhelming performance in Philadelphia and will be looking to upset the second-seeded Packers. Green Bay, is coming off their first-round bye, which they earned after finishing the season with a 13-3 record and NFC North division title. They finished the season with a five-game winning streak, but that streak included three games against teams picking in the top four spots in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Seahawks and Packers will both be looking to use this game as a platform to prove they deserve to be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders. While both teams have an uphill battle, the Seahawks and Packers have decent long-shot Super Bowl betting lines in 2020, and should never be counted out. The winner of this game will advance to the NFC championship game where they will play either the 49ers or the Vikings. Much like the Titans in the AFC, both conferences still have a 6th seed team alive in the postseason. So an upset by the Vikings would mean the winner of the Packers/Seahawks matchup would have the chance to host the NFC Championship game in the Vikings won.
Keys to the Game: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has thrived off its running game this season. They finished the season with the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL and having run the fourth-most running plays. Late in the season, though, they lost both Chris Carson (1,230 rushing yards) and Rashaad Penny (5.7 yards/carry). Marshawn Lynch, although a fun addition to the team, was a non-factor against the Eagles last week; he ran for just seven yards on six carries. Rookie Travis Homer also failed to help the Seattle offense, he rushed for 12 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Russell Wilson ran for 45 yards, more than double what Lynch and Homer ran for combined last week.
This game will come down to the play of the aforementioned Wilson. The ineffectiveness of their rushing attack against Philadelphia suggests they will have to emphasize their passing game more this week. Wilson will need to open the field and attack downfield with Metcalf and Lockett. Metcalf caught seven of his nine targets last week for 160 yards and a touchdown. His physical game and playmaking skills should allow him to succeed despite what is likely to be tight coverage by Kevin King with support downfield from their pair of dangerous safeties in Adrian Amos and Ben Savage. Emphasizing the passing game, though is dangerous for Seattle. They are just 6-5 this season when Wilson throws the ball at least 30 times in the game. They are 6-0 when he throws the ball less than 30 times in a game.
Keys to the Game: Green Bay Packers
Green Bay should look to attack the Seahawks through the air right out of the gate. Seattle has allowed the sixth-most passing yards to opposing teams this season. They will look to take advantage of Davante Adams’ positive match-up against Tre Flowers’ and the rest of the Seahawks porous secondary. Once the Packers get out to an early lead they will be able to take control of the pace of play and slow things down for their potent running attack.
The Packers have been emphasizing the rushing game in the back portion of the 2019 season. Their running backs combined for five 100 yard rushing games in the first ten games of the season. After their Week 11 bye, their running game surged forward. They ran for at least 100 combined yards in five of their last six games this season. We should expect a healthy dose of both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams once the Packers get out to an early lead.
Fantasy Take: Start’Em Sit’Em
Start: DK Metcalf
Metcalf has seen 19 targets over the last two weeks, four more than Tyler Lockett. He has pulled in 242 receiving yards and two touchdowns in those games, compared to Lockett’s 112 receiving yards and one touchdown. I expect Seattle to get down early and be forced to throw the ball more than they’d like, and Metcalf will be the biggest beneficiary of it.
Start: Aaron Jones
The Packers lead back is red hot and they have been feeding him the ball. Jones has rushed for at least 100 yards in three of the last four games of the season and found the endzone five times. He also caught 10 of his 16 targets, giving him true PPR upside. The Packers gave Jones the ball 48 times over his last two games. With a week off and an implied emphasis on the running game, we should expect Jones to power through the Seattle defense and find the endzone at least once.
Sit: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers comes into the playoffs on a run of inefficiency. He completed just 55% of his 95 passing attempts in weeks 16 &17. Prior to those games, he hadn’t thrown the ball more than 35 times in one game since week 6. He also threw two of his four interceptions of the season in those last two weeks. Seattle’s secondary, although beatable, does redeem themselves with turnovers; their 16 interceptions on the season are fifth-best in the NFL. Rodgers finds fantasy football value in volume and protecting the football-we can’t rely on either one of these this week.
Sit: Marshawn Lynch/Travis Homer
I referenced this throughout my article, but I can see the temptation to play one of these two backs. Players off to early deficits or looking to fade the mainstream plays may look to either Lynch or Homer as intriguing contrarian picks. Don’t do it. Neither back has proven capacity for sustained success this season, and they split the workload 50-50 last week-suggesting that neither will get a significant opportunity in a game where I predict Seattle will pivot away from the running game.
I like Green Bay all the way here. I am picking them to win straight up and cover the spread. They should get out to an early lead, forcing Seattle to play a more aggressive game than they’d prefer, and control the game after halftime. I am picking the Packers to win 28-13, which is under the 47 total.