Can the Seahawks take advantage of the Packers’ pass defense and how well can Seattle slow down Green Bay on third down? A look at some keys to Sunday’s game in Lambeau Field.
Hit ’em deep
Taken by the most basic measure — yards allowed per game — Green Bay’s pass defense doesn’t necessarily look like a big weakness. Green Bay is 17th overall in passing yards allowed at 254.3 per game. But take a closer look and you’ll see the Packers are allowing opponents 8.2 yards per pass attempt, most in the NFL (Cleveland is next at 7.9) and have also allowed 24 touchdowns, fourth-most in the NFL.
The Packers have been better of late against the Eagles and Texans, allowing just 395 total passing yards in wins against those two teams the last two weeks.
Still, cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have been ranked among the worst in the NFL much of the season by Pro Football Focus, and the Seahawks will look to get one-on-one matchups with them and try to let the big plays develop from there.
Third down is the biggest down
One stat in this game heavily favors Green Bay — third-down conversions. Green Bay is second in the NFL at 47.8 percent while the Seahawks are 24th at 36.4 percent. And you pretty much need to look no further than third-down conversions to tell if Seattle has had a good or bad offensive performance — in the three games in which Seattle has had a 50 percent or better third-down conversion rate, it has scored 108 points. In the four games in which Seattle has scored 12 points or fewer, it has converted 31 percent or less of third downs.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Why the Mariners aren't the ones to blame for brawl with Angels
- In aftermath of brawl, Mariners have one injury and three suspensions
- In the wake of Mariners-Angels brawl, remembering 5 other famous Seattle sports fights
- Mariners acquire infielder Carlos Santana from Royals
- Mariners brawl with Angels after being thrown at twice; eight ejected
Neither team has been great defending third downs — Seattle is 27th at 42.6 percent while the Packers are 24th at 41.4 percent.
And complicating the equation now for Seattle is the loss of free safety Earl Thomas, with Steven Terrell — who will be making just his second start — taking over.
It will be no surprise if Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tests Terrell early and often, and maybe particularly on third down. Rodgers is seventh in the NFL in passer rating on third down at 103.4, completing 63.9 percent of such passes with 11 touchdowns.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
As the weekend neared, weather forecasts were predicting there could be as much as 8 inches of snow in Green Bay over the weekend. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will snow during the game, and the field will be covered until shortly before players take the field for warmups. So conditions could be fairly normal or a blizzard or anywhere in between.
While Seattle hasn’t played in any kind of real snow since the 2010 season, the Seahawks have lots of experience playing in wind and rain and typically have kept to their game plan in any conditions.
But the Seahawks undoubtedly feel a little comforted that their running game has improved in recent weeks, keyed by a season-high 240 rushing yards in last Sunday’s 40-7 victory over Carolina.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday “this is exactly the kind of game’’ where being able to run as well as pass is important. “I’m really fired up we have been running the ball the last few weeks and things have started to balance out,’’ he said.
Thomas Rawls had his best game of the season against the Panthers with 106 yards on 15 carries, and the Seahawks could be counting on more of that if the forecasts hold.