If it seems like the Seahawks and Packers meet every season despite playing in different NFC divisions, it’s because they practically do. These two teams have squared off nine times since the start of the 2007 season. The most recent meeting took place in Green Bay to open last season, a forgettable 17-9 win by the Packers, perhaps made most famous by then-Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane’s ejection for throwing a punch at Green Bay receiver Davante Adams. The Eddie Lacy experiment in Seattle opened with a thud as the hefty running back carried the ball just five times for 3 yards.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Bobby Wagner vs. Jimmy Graham
Wagner seemed to take great pride in leveling former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate a number of times in Seattle’s win over over the Lions a few weeks ago. Now enter Graham, who never quite became the weapon Seattle hoped for when they traded for him in 2015. The Seahawks let Graham walk in free agency this past offseason, and he’s returning to Seattle for the first time Thursday. Graham, the NFL’s top-paid tight end, has had a decent first year with the Packers. He’s caught 33 passes for 439 yards and two touchdowns so far. While there seems to be far less animosity between Graham and the Seahawks then there was with Tate, Wagner undoubtedly would love to keep Graham’s flexing on first-down catches to a minimum.
Seahawks offense vs. Seahawks defense
These two units are going to have to find a way to get along. No, there’s no fighting or finger-pointing taking place, but it seems like every game Seattle’s offense has produced, the defense has faltered, and vice versa. Seattle’s defense was great to start the season as the offense scuffled along, and now that the offense has some legs, the defense has become a liability. If these two units can put together a complete effort — and that’s a big if — Seattle may be on the verge of stringing some wins together.
Crazy Seattle Nights vs. Green Bay legend
Perhaps two of the craziest scenes at CenturyLink Field in Seattle have taken place in night games versus future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. First, the “Fail Mary” game in 2012, in which replacement referees awarded Golden Tate simultaneous possession and a touchdown catch on the final play to give Seattle a stunning win. Then the NFC Championship game in 2015, in which Seattle rallied from a 19-7 deficit with four minutes remaining to beat the Packers in overtime to reach the Super Bowl. Who knows what the football gods have in store for Thursday, but it likely will be must-watch television. It usually is with these two teams.
9 — The number of fumbles lost this season by the Packers, second-most in the NFL. Since Rodgers rarely throws interceptions — his one on the season is tied for fewest in the league among qualifying players — Seattle must find alternate ways to force turnovers. The Seahawks have forced 16 turnovers on the season (10 interceptions, six fumble recoveries), but have zero in back-to-back losses against the Chargers and Rams. Seattle needs to find a way to win the turnover battle on Thursday night to halt their two-game losing streak.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Seahawks have had just two three-game losing streaks since head coach Pete Carroll took over in 2010. One occurred in Carroll’s first season, and the second was the following year. If Seattle loses to Green Bay on Thursday, it will be the team’s first three-game losing streak since 2011. This also means the Seahawks have never had a three-game losing streak with Russell Wilson at quarterback. It’s a remarkable run of consistency, but also shows where this current group is in transitioning away from the Marshawn Lynch/Legion of Boom years.
On Sunday’s broadcast against the Rams, analyst Tony Romo referred to the Seahawks playing a “46” defense on a number of different plays. So what is it? The “46” defense was made famous by Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan in the 1980s. Unlike the 3-4 or 4-3, the numbers in the “46” don’t refer to the alignment of defensive linemen and linebackers. Instead, the “46” was named after the jersey number of Bears strong safety Doug Plank, a key component to the scheme. Originally designed to pressure the quarterback, the “46” turned into a monster against the run. In the defense, three defensive linemen line up directly over the center and two guards, the fourth lines up on the outside shoulder of the tackle on the weak side, and two linebackers line up on the strong side over the tight end and other tackle. The strong safety (Plank) is brought down near the line of scrimmage with the third linebacker, creating an eight-man front with six on the defensive line. The Bears terrorized the league with this scheme and their unique personnel to run it, but it’s rarely seen in today’s pass-heavy NFL.
GAME DAY GRUB
Unless you called in “sick” and have all day to prepare a wonderful spread, you’ll likely be rushing home from work to catch the start of this one. With very little time to prepare, pizza is probably the logical choice. Sure, you can pick one up, but homemade is also fast, just as good, and made whatever way you like. Just be sure and use lots of cheese. It is the Packers after all. And a night game against Green Bay? Sounds like a great time for a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you are interested in something slightly more fancy, go with a shandy from Leinenkugel’s. Brewed in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Leinenkugel’s shandys are low on alcohol by volume (4.2 percent), and should thus help avoid the Friday morning headache.
Seahawks 27, Packers 24
The last time Rodgers won a game in Seattle, Charlie Frye was starting at quarterback for the Seahawks. That was in 2008. The Seahawks desperately need a win, and should be boosted by the return of starting running back Chris Carson and starting right guard D.J Fluker. It’ll be a close — and possibly crazy — game, but the Seahawks should have enough, with the aid of home-field advantage on a short week, to pull this one out.