Predictions: NFC Championship Game
Shawn (14-3) — Let’s get this party started right — fuck the Seattle Seahawks. I’m picking the Packers.
Now, I know the Seahawks are the favorite to repeat and I know they are favored to win this game by around a touchdown. I also know that it is quite possible that they could cover.
However, as George Thorogood once said when accused of leaning up against a post — “But I’m TIRED!”
I am tired of hearing about how Seattle beat the Packers by 20 in Week 1. That was ages ago, back in the days of Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk at middle linebacker, or the Dark Ages as we like to call them. Davante Adams was a glint in Mike McCarthy’s eye. Letroy Guion still stank of Viking. Sam Barrington festered on special teams. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was becoming a man. And the Seahawks still had Percy Harvin and Brandon Mebane on their active roster.
I am tired of hearing about how great Seattle’s defense is. Yeah, they are probably the best unit in football until someone proves otherwise, but the wearer of the crown is never comfortable. They have to load up more than they used to against the run in order to stop it. That has left their All Pro defensive backs hanging in the breeze and if the pass rush isn’t getting home, then suddenly the best pass defense in football becomes vulnerable and soft in the middle. Heck, Dallas did hang 30 on them.
Most of all, I am TIRED of hearing about Aaron Rodgers’ injured calf. I am going to tell you right now what no one else is saying. The injury to Rodgers’ calf can be a bad or a GOOD thing, completely depending on the offensive line and Rodgers.
The injury has removed Rodgers’ crutch of fleeing the pocket whenever the coverage is too tight for him to pull the trigger. That is off the table. Rodgers MUST remain in the pocket and throw the football. If the coverage is tight, then he must beat the coverage with his accuracy. That’s what he did in the second half against Dallas, and that is exactly what he must do against Seattle. By the way, that’s exactly how Rodgers won a Super Bowl, by hanging in the pocket and beating good coverage by throwing perfect passes.
He can do it and I believe he WILL do it.
Defensively, the Packers need to tackle, and they need to contain Russell Wilson. They must limit his big plays to just one or two in the game. Or none, even better. The Packers can play a little defense too and every one of those guys should have a chip on their shoulder right now.
Keep Wilson in the pocket and he’s an average quarterback. Cover Doug Baldwin and Luke Wilson on third down. Those are basically the only guys Wilson throws to on key downs.
And tackle, tackle, tackle. Let’s get after them, boys.
Packers 24, Seahawks 20
Andrew (13-4) — “Great moments are born from great opportunities.”
That’s how Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks began when he addressed the ‘Miracle on Ice’ team that would go on to beat the unbeatable Soviets, en route to winning the most unlikely of gold medals for America in 1980.
And what an opportunity the Green Bay Packers have on Sunday. Actually, it’s not singular, it’s plural. The Packers have several opportunities before them as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.
First and most recently, the Packers can get revenge on the Seahawks for the week one thumping they suffered at CenturyLink Field. That Kickoff Thursday debacle featured the unveiling of a secret ‘quads’ defensive personnel grouping, an ineffective Eddie Lacy, an offensive game plan hellbent on using only one side of the field, a gimpy Randall Cobb, and a cameo appearance by none other than Derek Sherrod.
Quite a bit has changed since then.
Secondly, the Packers can right the wrong that still lives as one of the most painful regular season losses in Green Bay Packers history — the Fail Mary. In fact, it lives on with such strength and vigor that everything that can possibly be said on the matter has already been said. Let’s move on.
Finally, and most importantly, the Packers have a chance to beat the best team in football in their own house, the odds-on favorites to win it all, and prevent them from sparking talks of a dynasty.
If the Packers win this game, it could go down as one of the biggest wins in franchise history. Seriously. How often in the lifetime of the Packers franchise has there been a game of this magnitude where they came in as hefty underdogs and ended up winning?
The only game that enters my mind is when Brett Favre and the Packers went into San Francisco in 1996 and upset the Steve Young-led 49ers. That game lives on in Packers history and was only a divisional round game. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, this game is obviously so much bigger.
Can you imagine the magnitude of beating this Seahawks team in their own stadium and what that would mean to the Packers’ franchise history? It would be epic. It would be historic. It would be a game we would relive over and over again and never forget.
However, it could go another way too.
Much like the many failed efforts versus the Cowboys in Dallas when Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre were at the helm, this game can just as easily be forgotten if the Packers lose as expected. There it will disappear deep into the recesses of our collective brains and hopefully be forgotten. That is, until we are rudely reminded that it really did happen, when we accidentally run into the NFL Films footage or America’s Game on how the Seahawks won their second of back-to-back titles.
And that will only be for the rest of our lives.
So that’s what the good guys in green and gold are playing for on Sunday. They’re playing so this game is remembered by the right fans and for the right reasons. They are playing for a piece of eternal history within the greatest franchise in all of professional sports.
In order to do that, the Packers will have to figure out how to put points up on a very daunting Seattle defense. On the other side of the ball, they need to limit Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.
In my opinion, Wilson is the key because he is a magician on third downs.
It’s like Wilson is constantly improvising new ways of converting that are specifically designed to inflict the most damage possible to the opponent’s psyche. As someone who cheered against Seattle all year knowing they were the most likely host of the game we’re about to see on Sunday, I was often totally frustrated watching teams try to stop Russell Wilson. It just doesn’t happen very often or with much consistency.
I mean, I’m a guy on the couch watching Wilson and I’m getting completely frazzled as he converts over and over again. Imagine how the opposing defense must feel!
Last week Wilson went 8-for-8 on third down, converting seven of those into first downs. If the Seahawks’ numbers are anything resembling that, then the Packers are in very big trouble. If however Green Bay can win the third down battles on defense and get off the field, they’ve got a great chance to win.
At the end of the day, the team who wins the third down conversion battle on both sides of the ball will come out on top. But who will that be? I hope I’m correct in thinking that it’s too close to call.
However this game isn’t ending in a tie, so we must pick a winner.
After some more Aaron Rodgers heroics, the Packers take a 19-17 lead late in the game, but Russell Wilson has four minutes left on the clock and does what he’s done all year. He keeps his cool and leads his team down the field for the winning chip shot with mere seconds left on the clock.
The only team I’ve feared all year in the NFC brings my darkest nightmares to the forefront, as they end the Packers’ run one game shy of the big dance.
But hey! The ‘Miracle on Ice’ team lost to the Soviet Union by a score of 10-3 in an exhibition game that took place just prior to the opening of the Olympics that year. So anything can happen.
Here’s to me being wrong.
Seahawks 20, Packers 19
Monty (13-4) — Unlike last week, when I thought about the Dallas Cowboys exactly zero times before they faced the Green Bay Packers, I’ve thought about the shitdicks from Seattle almost constantly this week.
Last week, I gave Dallas zero chance to win in Green Bay. This week, unfortunately, I’m giving the Packers only a slight chance to win in Seattle.
The Packers would have to play a perfect game in order to pull this one out. That means they run the ball effectively with Eddie Lacy. They keep Aaron Rodgers clean and Rodgers is effective on third down AND in the red zone. They win the turnover battle. They limit Seattle’s rushing attack to somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 yards (they gave up more than 200 back in week 1).
Can the Packers do all of those things? Yes, I believe they can, but there’s a big difference between can and will.
The thing I love most about the Packers right now is their level of focus and business-like approach to the game. It’s reminiscent of 2010. While the Seahawks seem to be eating up all the hype surrounding them, the Packers give zero shits. They’re just coming to play ball.
This also reminds me of a game the Packers were on the other side of — Super Bowl XXXII. Going into that game, the Packers were double-digit favorites, sucking up all the hype. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos were just the patsy, there for the Packers to roll over on their way to back-to-back titles.
Well, you know how that turned out. Broncos 31, Packers 24.
Now that I’ve said all of that, I have to pick Seattle and it really boils down to a singular reason. The Green Bay Packers, for whatever reason, have been nothing more than mediocre on the road all season.
And the Seahawks are decidedly not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I’m making this pick with my head, rather than my heart. And Seattle can still eat a fucking dick.
Seahawks 31, Packers 27