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The Early Read: Packers Defense vs. Seahawks Offense

With Seattle's running backs on injured reserve, all eyes will be on Russell Wilson

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Seattle’s offense was one of the best in the NFL this season. The Seahawks finished ninth in scoring (25.3 points per game), eighth in total offense (11th in yards per play), fourth in rushing (10th in yards per carry and 14th in passing (ninth in yards per attempt). While mediocre on third down (16th), they generally scored touchdowns in the red zone (ninth in touchdown percentage) and goal-to-go situations (sixth).

However, Seattle’s offense has been riddled by injuries to such an extent that a Green Bay defense that finished ninth in points allowed should have the edge. 

The entire Seattle offense rests on the shoulders of quarterback Russell Wilson. Running back Chris Carson finished fifth in the league with 1,230 yards but suffered a broken hip in Week 16 and is out for the season. Carson was a beast. Between rushes and receptions, Carson forced 74 missed tackles. He averaged 3.63 yards after contact on rushing plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Those figures ranked fourth and fifth in the league, respectively. Backup Rashaad Penny, a first-round pick in 2018, added 370 yards and a robust 5.7 yards per carry but suffered a torn ACL in Week 14. With Carson, Penny and C.J. Prosise on injured reserve, the Seahawks coaxed Marshawn Lynch out of retirement.

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How much have those injuries impacted the offense? In the 17-9 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, Wilson threw for 325 yards and ran for 45 yards. That’s 370 total yards for Wilson. Meanwhile, running backs Travis Homer and Lynch combined for 17 attempts for 19 yards. Homer had a long gain of 12; his other 10 carries went for 0 yards.

Fortunately for Seattle, Wilson is one of the best in the business. His 101.2 career passer rating trails only Aaron Rodgers’ career mark of 102.4. This season, he ranked fifth with a 106.3 passer rating and threw 31 touchdowns vs. five interceptions. Wilson’s like a mini-Rodgers. When Wilson has time – or buys time – big things tend to happen. Wilson loves to air it out. He threw 16.5 percent of his passes 20-plus yards downfield, the second-highest rate in the league, according to PFF. On those deep passes, he had a 119.2 passer rating with 11 touchdowns vs. two interceptions.

Wilson has two big-play receivers that perfectly fit his playing style. One is veteran Tyler Lockett. At 5-foot-9 7/8 and 182 pounds, he ran his 40 in 4.40 seconds at the 2015 Scouting Combine. The other is rookie D.K. Metcalf. At 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds and with muscles on top of muscles, he ran his 40 in 4.33 seconds at the 2019 Scouting Combine. With their speed, they are a dangerous duo for Wilson. Lockett finished with 82 receptions for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns. Metcalf added 58 receptions for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. He dominated the Eagles with seven catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. That duo will challenge Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, a combo that finished the season playing its best ball.

Pressuring the athletic Wilson with the right combination of aggression and gap integrity will be key. No quarterback was sacked more than the 48 times Wilson was taken down.