GREEN BAY PACKERS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
The Seattle Seahawks are one game away from returning to the Super Bowl as they attempt to defend their Super Bowl crown.
The Green Bay Packers are determined to knock off the defending champions, especially after being blown out by a 36-16 score in the season opener in Seattle.
Both teams have been rolling in the second half of the regular season. The Seahawks finished at 12-4 after a 6-4 start while the Packers had the same regular season record after a rough 1-2 beginning. The Seahawks knocked off the Carolina Panthers, 31-17 last weekend while Green Bay held off the Dallas Cowboys, 26-21 in a classic game played at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an MVP caliber season and led the league is passer rating and teams with excellent wideouts Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to give the Packers one of the league's most explosive offenses. Running back Eddie Lacy and back up James Starks form a solid one-two punch to give the offense superb balance.
The Seahawks are less of a power on offense, but QB Russell Wilson is a threat with either his arm or legs and has capable targets to throw to in Luke Willson (tight end) and wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin.
And then of course, there is "Beast Mode" ... running back Marshawn Lynch, who seems to thrive in the post-season. He is capable of carrying the offense on his back with his punishing running style.
Defensively, there isn't much comparison as the Seahawks dominate in that area with their stellar front seven and of course, the "Legion of Boom" secondary, led by Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman at the corners and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, who had a 90-yard "pick six" interception to ice the playoff win last week against Carolina.
Green Bay is led by linebackers Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk and front man Julius Peppers on the defense and can come up with the turnovers at opportune times.
The X factor in this game will be whether or not Aaron Rodgers is at 100 percent health as he has been nursing a left calf injury and was visibly hobbled last week. If the Seahawks can get after Rodgers and force errant passes, it'll be a blowout as it was in Week One.
The Packers have shown great fortitude this year and will not be an easy opponent. If they can get an early lead and make the Seahawks play from behind, perhaps they can spring the upset.
One thing for sure this time around is to expect a much closer game than the 20-point blowout from early September because Rodgers and the Packers are simply too good for that to happen again.
PREDICTION - Seattle 27, Green Bay 17