MILWAUKEE Ninety minutes away from Green Bay. About four inches of snow on the ground here, still lightly snowing Sunday morning, with a winter weather advisory for Wisconsin today. Expecting another 1-3 inches of snow at Lambeau Field during Sunday’s game, 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time start. Chance of precipiation: 100 percent.
The Seahawks are trying to win at Lambeau for the first time since 1999.
One of the keys to the Seahawks’ Sunday here: The defensive front believing their eyes, not their ears. Seattle has jumped offside seven times in its last three games against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his hard, “double” counts of signals before snaps. Pro Bowl defensive end has had six of those penalties. I talked to the Seahawks this past week about what makes Rodgers the best at the hard count, and what they are doing to avoid giving him big plays this time.
My News Tribune colleague and travel partner Dave Boling wrote about an overlooked reason for the Seahawks’ success the last five seasons: their wide receivers’ blocking. That blocking will come in handy again Sunday in what I expect to be a consistent effort to run Thomas Rawls and Wilson inside and out.
And here are my keys to the game, the key players and the pick:
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-3-1) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-6)
Sunday 1:25 p.m., Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
TV: KCPQ Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Green Bay holds a 9-7 series edge in the regular season. The Packers have won two of the three playoff meetings, both at Lambeau. The Seahawks have won three of their last four overall against, including their miraculous overtime win in the January 2015 NFC title game at CenturyLink Field. The Packers won last September’s meeting in Green Bay 27-17, the Seahawks’ largest margin of defeat in the last five seasons. Seattle’s last win at Green Bay was on Nov. 1, 1999. Jon Kitna threw two touchdown passes for the Seahawks and Brett Favre threw four interceptions in the Packers’ 27-7 loss. That Monday night was new Seattle coach Mike Holmgren’s first game back in Green Bay after leaving the Packers.
Line: Seahawks by 3.
He is, after all, from Michigan: Among the many things the Seahawks still don’t know about Thomas Rawls: Can the oft-injured, second-year running back plow through snow. As of Friday, the constantly changing forecast for Lambeau on Sunday was for an 80-percent chance of snow accumulating 1-3 inches during the afternoon. That’s weather conducive to running the ball. Rawls had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season this past Monday, and Seattle is coming off its best run game in two years, 240 yards against a Panthers defense that was second in the league against the run coming in. Green Bay is ninth. Time to see if Rawls upbringing in Flint, Michigan, included running in the snow.
He is not, actually, from Wisconsin: Russell Wilson only played there. And just for a single college season for the Badgers, a couple hours south of Green Bay. Yet he says he’s hoping for "a downpour of snow" Sunday. It reminds the 28-year-old QB of his days and night in friends’ backyards during boyhood winters in Richmond, Virginia. As Wilson said, the offense has the advantage on a snowy field because they know where they are going and the defense has to react. If Wilson out-duels Aaron Rodgers in the snow, No. 3’s legend will grow yet again. And, yes, the Seahawks will take shots down the field, regardless of the conditions.
Stay onside. Go get Rodgers: Green Bay’s two-time NFL MVP is hot again: seven touchdowns, no interceptions while completing 69 percent of his throws for a passer rating of 113.9. He throws an average of 40 times per game. He’s has been sacked 25 times in 504 drop backs. Richard Sherman may do some shadowing of Jordy Nelson, who is tied for second in the league with 10 touchdown catches. While those two are battling, Seahawks Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril (10 sacks) and Frank Clark need to wait through Rodgers’ hard snap counts, not give him free plays -- as Seattle has seven times in the last three meetings – and keep him from staying hot.
The pick: Wilson is 16-3 in December. Rodgers is 15-2 at home in December. Seattle will get Green Bay’s best – performances and weather – but pulls out a season-boosting win behind Rawls’ resurgence. Seahawks 21, Packers 17.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
23 Steven Terrell FS 5-10 197 fourth
Earl Thomas’ season-ending broken leg=Terrell’s 2nd career start. Think Rodgers might target him?
72 Michael Bennett DE 6-4 274 eighth
Can’t jump offside and give Rodgers free plays—as he has 6 times in last 3 meetings
34 Thomas Rawls RB 5-9 215 second
Coming off first 100-yard game this season. Time to stomp and romp in the snow.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
12 Aaron Rodgers QB 6-5 244 12th
29 TDs, 7 INTs. Roaring lately, with 7 TDs, 0 INTs in his last 3 games. 15-2 at home in December
32 Christine Michael RB C 6-4 313 first
4th team in 14 months. SEA waived him just weeks ago. Is listed as both team’s leading rusher (492 yards)
52 Clay Matthews LB RB 5--10 235 ninth
Pro Bowl centerpiece is playing with one good arm after shoulder injury. Still lines up everywhere