Packers vs. Seahawks: 5 things to watch and a prediction

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The return of two quarterbacks and the importance of the contest on the playoff race in the NFC should make Sunday’s showdown between the Green Bay Packers (7-2) and Seattle Seahawks (3-5) one of the best games of Week 10.

Eight-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson is back after missing three games with a finger injury, while three-time MVP Aaron Rodgers is expected to play once he comes off the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday. The Seahawks can’t afford another loss in the highly competitive NFC West, while the Packers need to bounce back from last Sunday’s loss and start the journey towards winning the No. 1 seed in the conference.

Here are five things to watch and a prediction for the Packers’ Week 10 matchup with the Seahawks.

Challenge for the corners

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D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are one of the best wide receiver duos in football, and one of the best at creating big plays. Both are averaging over 10.0 yards per target, and together they’ve created 17 catches over 20 yards and 11 touchdowns. Getting back speedy rookie Eric Stokes could be important as the Packers attempt to take away Seattle’s big-play passing game, especially with Wilson back in the fold. Even if Stokes (knee) is limited, the Packers need Kevin King, Rasul Douglas and Chandon Sullivan and safeties Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos to repeat last week’s performance and take away the big plays. Wilson is one of the best deep throwers in the game, but the Packers defense is designed to limit explosive plays. This is a great matchup. And keep in mind, after Metcalf and Lockett, the Seahawks don’t have another player with over 200 receiving yards.

Rebound for the offensive line

(AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

The Chiefs blew up Jordan Love’s debut with a relentless blitzing attack. Don’t expect more of the same on Sunday, especially if Aaron Rodgers returns. The Seahawks are middle of the pack in terms of blitz rate, and while Love and the offensive line struggled against many of the pressure looks in Kansas City, teams have historically been hesitant to blitz Rodgers because he’s so good pre-snap. The Packers may also return All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, which would allow Elgton Jenkins to slide inside and fortify one of the guard spots. The offensive line should have a chance to bounce back and play well; Seattle has only 14 sacks and ranks 20th in pass-rushing grade at Pro Football Focus. Be wary of safety Jamal Adams, who can be an effective blitzer. The Chiefs had success bringing safeties on Sunday.

Getting the rare giveaway

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The Seahawks have only four giveaways in eight games and are plus-four overall in the turnover department. Can the Packers defense – which didn’t create a turnover on Sunday for the first time since Week 1 – force a rare Seahawks turnover or two? Amazingly, Russell Wilson didn’t have a turnover-worthy play in his first five games before injury. He is often as good at protecting the ball as Aaron Rodgers. But one thing to consider: Wilson has thrown 10 career interceptions over eight games against the Packers, including the playoffs. Six of the interceptions were thrown at Lambeau Field. It’s obviously not this simple, but the Packers are 7-0 when creating at least one turnover and 0-2 when failing to get a turnover this season.

Situational offense

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The Seahawks defense has allowed the second-most yards in football, but Seattle ranks eighth in points allowed in large part due to situational dominance. Through eight games, the Seahawks are sixth on third down (conversions on 34 percent) and fifth in the red zone (touchdowns on 48.4 percent). Can the Packers play well on first and second down and extend drives in manageable third-down situations, and then score seven points once they get into the scoring area? Yards don’t mean much if long drives are ending in punts or field goals. The goal for the Packers Sunday is to make the Seahawks bend and break.

Big game for the RBs?

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Don’t be surprised if Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are heavily involved in the passing game. According to Pro Football Focus, Seahawks linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks have given up a combined 68 receptions into their coverage this season, and only two teams have allowed more receiving yards to running backs in 2021 than the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers can’t be afraid to dink and dunk against this defense. Seattle ranks fifth in run defense grade at PFF, but the Packers can get Jones and Dillon plenty of touches in the passing game if the run stalls.

Prediction: Packers 27, Seahawks 17 (5-4)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12).

With two quarterbacks returning from missed time, this looks like an increasingly tough game to predict. It’s impossible to know if there will be any rust for the two passers, especially with Wilson coming off a finger injury on his throwing hand and Rodgers essentially missing two full weeks away from the facility and practice field. It’s still somewhat easy to like the Packers here, given the returning pieces on offense and the ascension of the defense. The Seahawks are a desperate team that needs a win in this spot, but the Packers are at home and more talented along the line of scrimmage. Unless Wilson hits big plays and the Packers really struggle situationally, I like Green Bay here.

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