21:00 Seattle Seahawks – Green Bay Packers

I've been one of the biggest backers of the Seattle Seahawks the past two years. Over that span I am 16-8 in game picks in Seahawks games, including the call in last year's Super Bowl over Denver. In that game and leading up to it I have felt the Seahawks were very underrated. I have felt that Russell Wilson is one of the bestQBs in the game and didn't get the respect he deserved. Well, times – they are a changin'. The Green Bay Packers suffered a blow when Aaron Rodgers injured his calf and has been hobbling around the last two games. It will likely not be much better vs. Seattle in the NFC Championship game as he'll have just a week to try to heal. That may not be as important as everyone thinks. Rodgers was able to lead his team to 30 and 26 points the past two weeks. And, Mike McCarthy has a plan on how to attack the Seattle defense. McCarthy is planning on using a lot of Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and even Randall Cobb on the ground. Looking back at the last two seasons when Seattle has had their stellar defense, teams that succeeded against them all had one thing in common. They beat Seattle by running between the tackles. The Seahawks are too good and too fast to lose through the air or running wide. Teams that commit to running the ball, regardless of early success, have been the Seahawks' biggest challenge. The last two seasons they are 18-2 ATS if the opponent runs the ball 25 times or fewer, and 26-0 straight-up if the opponent runs the ball 26 or fewer times. When an opponent sticks to the running game, Seattle's success drops to 8-7 straight up! That's right: all their losses have occurred vs. teams committed to the run. I think Green Bay's game plan will be heavy on the run, forcing Seattle to commit extra defenders in the box and giving Rodgers a much better chance. Rodgers is the best ever at avoiding costly interceptions (1.6% INT rate in his career). As hard as it is for opposing QBs to have success against Seattle, if anyone can, it is Aaron Rodgers. It isn't necessarily the success of running the ball – it is the commitment to it, as four of the seven losses Seattle has sustained the last two years were by teams that ran for much less than 4 yards per carry. Green Bay is vastly improved defensively since moving Clay Matthews to the middle of the field, and the Seattle offense has gone for less than 400 yards 12 times this season. In games against defenses similar to Seattle's, the Packers scored about 17 points per game this season. But, when Seattle faced high-powered offenses like Green Bay's, they allowed around 20 points per game. Seattle's amazing defensive run in the second half of the season has to come with an asterisk. In their last twelve games this team hasn't faced an offense like they will see on Sunday. Here are the offenses that Seattle has beat up on: St. Louis (2), Carolina (2), San Francisco (2), Arizona (2), Oakland, Giants, Kansas City, Philadelphia. The average rank of those teams offensively? 20th. The only good offense in the bunch was Philadelphia. If we look at the offenses that Seattle faced this year that are similar to the one they will see in this game, Seattle gave up 16 (GB), 20 (Denver), 30 (Dallas) and 14 (Philly). That's 20 points per game which is a far cry from the 8.0 per game they have allowed over their last seven games. Yes, Seattle's defense is great. It's just not as great as the numbers make it seem right now. As a result, we get line value opposing them. I think Green Bay gets into the low to mid 20s in this game. Seattle should also score in that range. It should be a close game that comes down to one possession. Since taking over in Green Bay, the Packers are 34-22 ATS vs. winning teams. Yes, the Seahawkslaid a beating on Green Bay when they met in week one. But, NFL playoffs teams that lost to their opponent during the regular season have a distinct advantage, going 55-34-3 (62%) ATS since 2001. I think this line is inflated, even with a hobbled Rogers (who I expect to rise to the occasion). Take Green Bay with the points.

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