I guess Green Bay is on some crazy-long winning streak at home in the month of December, and in games started by Aaron Rodgers it’s even crazier and longer? I dunno. I suppose that’s some comment on how difficult it is to win in freezing cold weather, unless you’re “used to it” like the Packers ostensibly would be. But, doesn’t that feel like one of those stats that has more to do with the organization? The Packers have been pretty damn good for a long time, and they’ve been particularly good with Rodgers at the helm, so it would stand to reason that an anomalous winning streak such as this might be in the cards.
If the Cleveland Browns played all their home games in Green Bay for the last decade, I’m certain we would not be having this same conversation.
So, I’m not going to put a ton of credence into this winning streak, because like all streaks, they come to an end eventually. And since 2016 is literally the worst year in the history of years, it would stand to reason that some hardships are coming Green Bay’s way.
The Packers are 6-6 coming into this game, and they’ve looked decidedly unremarkable this whole year. Their offense, which is supposed to be their strength, is ranked 13th in total yards, just two spots ahead of the Seahawks. Their running game is particularly terrible, averaging less than 100 yards per game, ranked 24th overall (the Seahawks are only ranked 20th, but remember we’ve been dealing with another brand new O-Line and the struggles of Christine Michael for most of the year). Most galling of all might be that the Packers are only ranked 10th in passing, behind teams like Arizona, Cincinnati, San Diego, and New England (and don’t forget Brady missed 4 games!). Maybe most importantly of all, the Packers only rank 11th in points scored, behind teams like Buffalo and Tennessee.
It’s been a problem this year, because while their defense is rarely a strength, it’s even less disruptive this year. They’re pretty middle-of-the-road in sacks, and now they’ll be missing their sack leader in Nick Perry. They’re already down a couple of inside linebackers, and if Clay Matthews can’t go, you might as well stick a fork in their defense. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix can’t be everywhere at once!
As was shown in the Tampa Bay game, though, it doesn’t necessarily take an elite front four to get pressure on the Seahawks. Unlike that game, we’re healthy across the O-Line, and Garry Gilliam has effectively been benched for stopgap improvement Bradley Sowell. I don’t know how you lose a right tackle job to Sowell, but Gilliam must’ve been awfully bad. On the plus side, Britt is playing like a quasi-Pro Bowler at center, and Glowinski and Ifedi have looked better as the season has gone on. Regardless, you have to be concerned for whoever’s trying to block Julius Peppers, but if that’s all they’ve got for their pass rush, I don’t feel too worried.
On the flipside, we’ve got a secondary that’s down Earl Thomas for the rest of the year. I don’t anticipate we’re just going to completely fall apart in his absence, but there’s obviously a steep drop-off from him to Steven Terrell. That doesn’t change the overall makeup of the defense though. We’re still going to do everything we can to funnel everything into the underneath routes. And, let’s be honest here, MUCH worse secondaries have been able to hold the Packers’ passing game in check this season. Since we don’t really have a run game to worry about, it might make sense to regularly alternate between blitz-heavy packages and dropping extra guys into coverage. I wouldn’t stick in a zone too much though, as the Packers seem to really struggle against man coverage.
In a vacuum, the Seahawks should have little trouble moving the ball and putting up points, as well as holding the Packers’ offense in check. But, we’re looking at a game in sub-freezing temperatures, with a likelihood of snowfall. In other words, crazy shit can happen. The ball will be extra tough to kick, as well as – I’m sure – not ideal for throwing. I want to say the team that runs the ball best will prevail, which puts the odds of winning severely in Seattle’s favor.
I mean, come on, tell me a Seahawks fan who isn’t looking forward to Christine Michael getting a lot of reps with the Packers! On that playing surface? He’ll be slipping and falling like CRAZY!
I ultimately think the Seahawks will win this game, but for some reason I keep coming back to these nagging doubts. Is it the weather? The haunting specter of almost losing to the Vikings in the playoffs last year? The fact that I still hold Aaron Rodgers in the highest of esteem even though he’s not quite at the all-world level we’ve seen him at in recent seasons? Or, is it that damned December winning streak in Lambeau Field?
More than anything, I just think it’s this NFL season. I can’t remember the last time I’ve struggled this hard at picking NFL winners. It seems like when I give the home team the edge in a 50/50 matchup, it backfires. Then, when I pick the quote-unquote best team, regardless of location, it backfires some more! No matter who I pick in this game, that team will most certainly lose. So, I might as well pick the Packers and at least do the Seahawks a solid.
Or, has my saying that effectively reversed the reverse-jinx? God, I hate