Surging Packers dominate Seahawks in every facet, keeping playoff hopes alive
- After thrashing the Seahawks in snowy Green Bay, the Packers are officially firing on all cylinders. But after a shaky start to the season, is it too little too late?
Green Bay’s offensive line was better than Seattle’s on Sunday, no significant surprise in general given how the Seahawks have struggled in that regard but stunning in how utterly dominant the Packers’ front.
Green Bay’s receivers were better, too. Much better. While Doug Baldwin was letting a ball bounce away off his face mask for an interception and Tyler Lockett was dropping a slant and Jimmy Graham was falling on another INT, the Packers’ combo of Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams shredded the non-Richard Sherman members of Seattle’s secondary.
Speaking of that secondary, well, the Packers’ defense stole part of the show, too. They took advantage of almost every mistake Seattle made—Damarious Randall’s stretching pick of a dangerous cross-body deep ball by Russell Wilson late in the first half all but sealed the outcome. The D-line made life tough itself as it was for Wilson, sacking him three times and hitting him several times more.
The quarterbacks? No contest there, either. Aaron Rodgers, even though at times he had to hop from huddle to huddle while dealing with a leg injury, outplayed his Seattle counterpart, Russell Wilson, by a very significant and very noticeable margin.
The Packers’ 38-10 victory over the Seahawks was a blowout in every sense of the word. Complete. Dominant. So much so that the Packers even had the luxury of resting Rodgers for the final 12-plus minutes.
What’s it all mean with the playoffs not far off on the horizon?
For starters, how about that everyone in the NFC will be hoping the Packers don’t get there. This is not the same team that sat 4-6 around Thanksgiving. Healthier and more confident on both sides of the ball, Green Bay has allowed just 12 points per game the past three weeks (all wins), while Rodgers now has 10 TDs to zero interceptions since Week 11.
The offensive scheme may not be perfect, but certainly the Packers have found more of a comfort zone than they had during the early portions of the season. Thank Davante Adams’ development or, in a roundabout way, the injury to Eddie Lacy, which forced the Packers into more of a creative, Ty Montgomery-centric look on the ground.
Randall’s return from injury (and the overall improved health of the Packers’ secondary) has been a driving factor in this team’s resurgence, as well. The second INT from Randall was a gift—Baldwin was open for a substantial gain and let the ball sail through his hands—but his first was a rangy, instinctive play that not a lot of DBs make. Quinten Rollins, absent for three games this season, came up with one of Wilson’s five turnovers off a deflected pass in the end zone.
The playoffs often boil down not to which team is the best overall, but which is the healthiest and playing best. Green Bay is still two games back in the NFC North, still in ninth place in the NFC and yet might be as dangerous a team as the conference has right now, Dallas included.
The Seahawks are still a threat themselves, but again they turned in a performance Sunday that left such designation open for debate. Interspersed among games like last week’s demolition of Carolina and a win at New England have been several performances like this one: at Los Angeles, at New Orleans, at Tampa Bay.
You may notice the abundance of road games on that list, which only highlights the updated NFC standings. With its loss Sunday, Seattle dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the conference, meaning the Seahawks potentially would need to win multiple road games in January to reach the Super Bowl. Thus far, they have shown little ability to be a consistent force away from home.
They also, as one would have expected, need to prove they can be defensively sound when they do not have superstar safety Earl Thomas, who broke his leg last week. Rodgers posted a QB rating of 150.8 Sunday (18 of 23 for 246 yards and three TDs), per ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia, the highest number ever allowed by a Pete Carroll Seattle team in the regular season.
The schedule provides Seattle a window to get right. It hosts the abysmal Rams on Thursday night, an Arizona team likely eliminated from the playoffs in Week 16 and travels to San Francisco in Week 17. Only the Cardinals have even a prayer of testing the Seahawks the way that Rodgers & Co. did Sunday.
But those tests will come in the playoffs, possibly on the road. Seattle won’t survive those matchups unless it’s better across the board than it was Sunday. There really was nothing, save for a couple nice runs by Thomas Rawls, for the Seahawks to take away as positives. That could tell us something about them.
Sunday would also seem to reveal a whole lot about the Packers. Namely, that they finally may be rounding into form just when it would matter most. If Green Bay gets into the postseason, via the NFC North title or a wild card, it sure looks like it would be a brutal draw.