Cory's Corner: Packers Must Stop Russell Wilson Magic

 
The only way the Seahawks stand a chance at derailing the Packers' season is if Russell Wilson can somehow will a hurt team to the finish line. 
 
Wilson is 0-3 in his career at Green Bay, as he has completed 57 percent of his throws with three touchdowns and six picks. 
 
And Wilson must play another playoff game without the team's top three running backs. Guess who led Seattle in rushing in Sunday's 17-9 wildcard-round win at Philly? None other than Wilson. He had nine carries for 45 yards, including two carries over 10 yards.
 
The Packers must get pressure but also must keep an eye on the 31-year-old quarterback that has 413 career playoff rushing yards.
 
That means that Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine must bring pressure wisely. He cannot bring the ranch without defending running lanes on the edge. The Packers have had a problem stopping runs between the tackles this year, but have done a good job of stopping runners that try to get outside. 
 
Earlier this season, I thought Wilson was a lock for the MVP award, which would've been his first. Then Seattle lost three of its final five games, including losing by two touchdowns at home to the 5-10-1 Cardinals. 
 
With a top-notch Wilson, Seattle is amazing. He has 21 career fourth quarter comeback wins, which is tied with Jim Kelly and Dan Fouts and five more than Aaron Rodgers. Wilson has four fourth quarter comebacks in the postseason, with two of those coming on the road. 
 
“The thing is, you keep '3' safe, he can do some magical things out there,” said Seahawks right guard D.J. Fluker to the Seattle Times
 
Ironically, Wilson and Rodgers are the only quarterbacks left in this NFL bracketless tournament that have won a ring. When everyone is enamored with Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo, Wilson and
Rodgers have been there and done that in the NFL's second season. 
 
Wilson has a 9-5 career playoff record by averaging 238 passing yards, 1.5 touchdowns and 0.7 picks. Many have criticized him for his height, but Wilson has done an amazing job by getting Seattle to the Super Bowl twice and should have claimed two rings.
 
Maybe the best way to keep Wilson under wraps is to hope for freezing cold. When the temperature is 21 degrees or below, he was 13-for-26 for 142 yards with a touchdown and a pick as the Seahawks still beat the Vikings in Minnesota 10-9 in 2014. 
 
This game appears to be the Packers to lose. It's at Lambeau and the Seahawks don't have all their weapons. However, don't think for a second that Wilson can't pull a rabbit out of his hat. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (54)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
NickPerry's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:35 am

This game will come down to a few things. Kevin King and Jarie Alexander MUST be able to stay with Lockett and Metcalf for a second or two longer than they might have to against a QB who doesn't have Wilson's skillset.

Za'Darius and Preston Smith have to stay IN FRONT of Wilson and attempt to squeeze him in the pocket. IF the rush past him, Wilson will take a few steps to his right or left and be gone. Kenny Clark and Z Smith if playing inside need to get pressure in his face quickly. Don't give him a place to step up and step out and the Packers defense should have a lot of success.

Run the football, play disciplined defense, and the Packers will be playing in the NFCCG...HOPEFULLY against Minnesota at Lambeau...IMO this is Aaron Jones team this year. USE him and continue to use him and Jamal Williams if he's healthy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 11:22 am

With KJ Wright and Wagner you have to get outside the tackles and use Jones in the passing game. Rodgers has to dial in his passes on the wheel routes. Gmo hopefully will not see much action. Need big games from Fackerell and Gary with the pressure packages. Pettine cannot sit is soft zones and let Wilson pick them apart. Will Savage make a play?

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jlc1's picture

January 07, 2020 at 01:45 pm

Yes, the linebacker comparison is heavily in Seattle's favor. So much so that it could be the difference, even with so many other factors, including GB's continuing good luck in playing teams with injured players, going GB's way.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:35 am

Cory buried the lede at the end of the article. Forecast for Sunday is a high of 27 with kickoff set for 1 hour after sunset. QB magic is more difficult to conjure when the thermometer reads in the 20s. We've seen it time and again from many more than just Wilson. When it gets that cold, it tends to neutralize all high powered offenses.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, that is to the Packers advantage. I think they have a huge advantage in the trenches, particularly with Z motivated by an All Pro snub.

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Guam's picture

January 07, 2020 at 08:53 am

I agree the weather will be a significant factor, but I think Cory got the lede right. Wilson's magic has led a wounded Seahawks team to heights they should never have reached on paper.

Tim Backes did an article about the "massive" advantage the Packers have in the trenches, at least on paper. I am sure the 49ers have an even more massive advantage on paper yet Seattle beat them once and probably should have beaten them twice if their coach had not mismanaged the clock at the end of the game. This is the same 49ers team that dismantled the Packers.

Russell Wilson is having a Rodgers-esque year and is carrying this team on his back. Pettine is going to have to find ways to slow Wilson down and reduce the magic or he could do to the Packers what he has done to the 49ers. Wilson makes this Seahawks team very dangerous.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 11:26 am

You have to blitz into his face and control his improvisation. Get him off his marks.

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2020 at 05:21 pm

Agreed: If you can get in his face, and you have good contain, he can't step up...all he can do is go backward. It's hard to throw a good ball moving backward. Ask Brett Hundley.

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DaHouse's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:38 am

That rabbit should want to stay in his hat on a wintery night at Lambeau Field.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:51 am

The great part about this years defense is that they have not needed to bring extra players to get pressure. Being able to use 4 guys to rush and get pressure is something this defense hasn't been able to do for years. This year they are able to. What this mostly does is it allows Pettine to drop a lot of guys into coverage and it also allows him if he would choose to, to have a spy on Wilson.

Where we really need to create pressure is up the middle. Not allowing Wilson to step up is huge.

This is where Clark and Za'Darius really have to control the game. Clark has been dominating the last half of the season and moving Za'Darius around especially on the inside has been a nightmare for offenses. Getting him lined up over a OG or OC has been almost to easy at times for him. This is where we need to win this game.
On the inside.

Another really good thing about getting pressure up the middle, is a lot of times when Wilson gets pushed from the middle he has a tendency to run backwards to get around the corner. He can give up a lot of yards trying to make a play.

Preston Smith, Fackrell and Gary all will likely have big roles to fill as well. They can't allow Wilson to get outside. This is where a good bull rush to help set the edge helps that. I think Fackrell and Gary both could have bigger games.

I fully believe this game will be won in the trenches. The Packers have the better OL and DL. If they control the LOS they will win!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:14 am

I see Pettine using a Spy occasionally on certain down and distances and also showing a Spy look and then dropping out. The great thing about the Smiths is they are great at applying pressure while holding the edge. Obviously not perfect but so much better than any pair of OLBs they have had since beginning to run the 3-4. And then Gary can com in and there is very little drop off in holding an edge. If King can cover DJ Metcalf and if Jaire can cover Lockett I think the Defense can hold the Seahawks under 24. If Rodgers and Jones can't score 24 points at home, well...

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Rossonero's picture

January 07, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Excellent point RCPackerFan about being able to rush with just 4. That's been huge. I'd like to see someone with some speed like Raven Green or Rashan Gary used as a spy on Russell Wilson. He can really kill us extending drives with his feet.

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2020 at 07:41 am

Seattle, like the Packers, were +12 in turnovers this season. They generate about half a turnover more per game than the Packers did, but had an issue with fumblitis (tied for 3rd most fumbles lost); they also forced the second most fumbles on the season. THIS will be the key to this game: Packers must be even or better on turnovers if they want to win. Must focus on hanging on to the football, especially if it's cold.

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Rossonero's picture

January 07, 2020 at 12:36 pm

I agree for the most part dobber, although to be fair, a lot of the fumbles came from Chris Carson, who's out now.

Nevertheless, the last time we beat Seattle at home, Wilson was throwing picks left and right (I think one was a lucky bounce, but I think he threw 4 total).

I'll be at the game and hoping for revenge for the 2014 NFC CG heartbreak.

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2020 at 01:31 pm

" a lot of the fumbles came from Chris Carson, who's out now."

Yup. Which means this team is likely to be better at protecting the football.

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Booner's picture

January 07, 2020 at 07:47 am

Are you ready for some Football Packer Fans!

Lets get physical on both sides of the ball!

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 07, 2020 at 08:22 am

The Packers finally have ingredients to make a SB run...a solid D, excellent QB, and a potent run game that can move the chains and score.

Two things I will be watching for from the stands:

1. How will Coach Matt attack? With a AJ getting the ball and quick hitting pass plays, getting the ball out fast ... or more long developing deep passes in an attempt to get chunk plays down field and try build the scoreboard up early? I hope the former...ball controlling, chain moving, clock chewing scoring drives.

2. How will Pettine attack? More nickel, man to man, pressure D with Campbell/Greene as hybrid or more dime, zone max coverage to limit chunk plays by Wilson down the field and less a focus on the weak Seahawk run game? Again, I hope the former because it can get the D more turnover chances and 3 and outs. The latter can work too but it also keeps Wilson on the field for more plays and first downs to hurt you with his WRs.

I do like the Packers to win in both trenches and win the game with authority. 27-14 or so.

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Houndog's picture

January 07, 2020 at 08:35 am

I think this game will likely be won in the trenches.
After the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro snubs, I don't know about the Smith Bros. but I'm sure as hell sick and tired of hearing about Clowney's 'Core Injury' and how he might perform.
Hopefully our defensive front performs like it can and the D-backs can hold their coverage a split-second or two longer than they have been. This would also be a great time for Rashan Gary to show us what he's made of, and hopefully that would be a good thing. If Raven Greene is ready and not (too) rusty he could be a real asset.
On offense they need to just be efficient, take what they can get by running the ball and with short passes and get first downs, take a shot when (and if) it's available! But, whatever you do, DON'T be predictable, Seattle's too good for that.
Rodgers will need to be on his game, he'll need time to throw, dropped passes won't work, and Lazard may need to do his best D. K. Metcalf impersonation.
If the Packers come to play from start to finish, they can win this!

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Packers0808's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:00 am

When the game is close at the end and we have the lead please no idiot prevent defense of Capers type!

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murf7777's picture

January 07, 2020 at 03:52 pm

Prevent D is there for a reason, all teams use it occasionally and the Packers have this year, multiple times. It is one reason the Packers point differential isn't more. It works most of the time with large leads. That being said, I totally agree with you in this game no lead is safe with Russell Wilson at the helm, so keep the peddle to the metal!

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:09 pm

How did that work with 20 some seconds left in the first half against Detroit? Never rush less than four. Keep max pressure and get the QB off the marks. If the safeties are deep, there should be no long balls completed. They have to go underneath or the Qb gets sacked.

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Packers0808's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:00 am

When the game is close at the end and we have the lead please no idiot prevent defense of Capers type!

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Since'61's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:20 am

I'm sure that the Eagles believed the same things before they played the Seahawks last Sunday evening. The key for the Packers is to contain Russell Wilson. Rush with 4 but keep a spy on Wilson. That could be Raven Green if he is back. It could be Rashon Gary but it needs to be someone who is at least as fast as Wilson and can make a sure tackle. Metcalf and Lockett can do damage if they are not covered well but I'm confident Pettine will have a plan to handle them. Defense also needs to watch out for the read-option with Wilson keeping the ball.

We should run the ball behind our OL and wear down the Seattle D, especially if Williams is back and ready to play. We need better results on first and second down. If that happens we can go with play action and short, quick passes on 3rd downs to Jones and Adams. Stay on the field and keep Wilson off the field. Our best defense will be our offense sustaining long time consuming drives.

Special teams need to be ready for fake punts and FGs. Seattle will pull out all of the stops particularly if they are trailing in the game.

Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Cubbygold's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:39 am

If Greene comes back and is productive, he'll be a legend in GB like starks. If he takes even one snap, MLF better have thoroughly vetted his health and mobility.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:13 pm

He will not be on the field if he's rusty. Cannot take that risk.

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Houndog's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:43 am

Agree with your post for the most part Since 61, but I'm not as confident as you seem to be that Pettine can come up with a proper plan to stop their WRs. We haven't seen a lot (or enough) of that this season.

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Since'61's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:45 pm

Agree that we have given up yardage but points are what count and we've been good at keeping opponents out of the endzone. The plan does not need to shut them down completely but should aim to minimize the amount of damage they inflict.

Part A of the plan is to pressure and contain Wilson. Part B would be to double either Metcalf or Lockett to take one of them away from Seattle's offense. We go one on one with the other WR and hopefully King or Alexander can get the job done if they are the CB who is one on one. If our pass rush can create havoc that will help the coverage and hopefully create a turnover or two.

Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Malcom Jenkins sacked him twice with the safety blitz coming off a delay. If he sees the obvious dog, he will roll out of the pocket and conjure some trouble. You got it down '61. Pressure and contain. Fletcher Cox got in there. Philly's D Backs are not as good as the Packs. Savage has to stay home deep and not get fooled by the Play action. As LeRoy Butler said, it's not his job to cover up or stop the runner.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 11:31 am

We'll see some safety and corner blitzes to front up Wilson,fast.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 05:01 pm

The Eagles settled for FGs @ Home. That's why they lost, despite Wentz being blind-sided. You have to get on the attack right away and find the endzone, then you can play with the ball-control concept.

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Pierre's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:37 pm

“Our best defense will be our offense sustaining long time consuming drives.” Agreed. Add...and scoring TDs, not FGs on these long drives. Time of possession is key in allowing rest to the defense between possessions. If Rodgers starts out with multiple “3 and outs” the defense will get gassed and Seattle will capitalize with their offense.

This is all up to Rodgers and how accurate he throws. He can’t throw a clunker of a game against Seattle and expect a win. He had 16 over throws against the worst pass defense, the Detroit Lions, in the last game. He has got to at least ‘game manage’ efficiently by completing passes and looking to move the chains. He has a good defense and team to beat Seattle and move on but he must perform good...with no excuses of others being at fault. He’s the elite QB...now show it!

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Cubbygold's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:38 am

As the playoff picture was coming together I envisioned NO @ GB. I thought, wouldn't it be something if this was Alexander's real coming out party in front of the whole country, holding Michael Thomas to a few meaningless catches and no TDs. Oh well, another game maybe.

GB needs to take a few lessons from last weekend.

One, what got you here will get you a win. Houston tried to get the ball to a bunch of receivers, then remembered they had Deandre Hopkins in the second half and took off. Don't create a game plan around Allison, Kumerow and Vitale. Jones/Adams must lead the way on offense.

Two, don't pull a Vikings and play soft defense the second you get a two score lead.

Three, go with whats working in-game. Saints pulling their best QB to put in Brees, only to watch him fumble, was destiny.

Four, you get pressure, you win. Zimmer moving his ends inside and blowing up the saints o-line was a thing of beauty. I just kept thinking, they're going to fire this guy if they lose and that will be another great Vikings decision that keeps GB on top of the North for years to come. Maybe they'll be dumb enough to do it after this weekend.

Five, throwing deep on third down and short just for fun is harmful... see NO in the 4th quarter.

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CAG123's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:02 am

Haven’t seen Hill for even a full game to label him as their best QB it’s one thing to run gadget plays, run block and catch a few passes a few times a game it’s another to methodically dissect a def for 60 minutes. Don’t disrespect Breezy like that lol

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Cubbygold's picture

January 07, 2020 at 11:31 am

haha, mostly a joke. The takeaway is still real though, go with the hot hand, whether that's Lazard, Williams, Jones, etc.

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CAG123's picture

January 07, 2020 at 12:06 pm

I agree with hot hand take he may not be as fast but we have our own 6’5 225 pound behemoth as well test those Seahawks DBs because you can believe DK will get his chances no matter who he’s matched against (hopefully KK)

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 05:06 pm

Press him with a LB and a CB to slow his routes. He's a rookie, what are his counter moves? Lockett will be schemed to attack the middle. Pettine now has Martinez dropping deeper on his zone sets and that keeps the TEs and Wrs in front of him. No giveaways for this game. The temps will be dropping at sunset, hopefully the Fans won't be sleeping.

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Pierre's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:48 pm

True about Brees, however one has to really be impressed with the significant plays Taysom Hill was making for the Saints in multiple ways to impact that game and kick start the Saints offense. Watching that game, I saw one dangerous offensive football player in Hill to the point if they did decide to stay with Hill at the end, I believe the Saints would probably have won that game. Minnesota just seemed like they could not stop Hill when he was involved in an offense play.

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Lphill's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:45 am

Still the Seahawks had a hard time in Philly against a depleted team with a backup QB who had not played in awhile, some of Wilson’s runs were due to poor tackling , we can’t allow that .

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Hematite's picture

January 07, 2020 at 01:09 pm

We have had a lot of games with poor tackling this season.
Hopefully we don't have that problem against the Seahawks.

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albert999's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:51 am

They are the kings of fake punts and field goals......we have to be ready for those all night!

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splitpea1's picture

January 07, 2020 at 11:30 am

Good article. We should be able to succeed against this defense by playing smart offensive football. Please: none of the crap like we saw in the first half against Detroit. And on defense, we also need to stymie Lynch and Homer like the Eagles did. Then our pass rushers can concentrate on making Wilson's life miserable--right THROUGH the fourth quarter. Our defense and special teams also has to be alert for any trick plays; Buffalo got an easy touchdown against Houston with a play similar to the one the Lions used on us last time.

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Lphill's picture

January 07, 2020 at 12:10 pm

I am just tired of Seattle and dramatic endings , let’s send a message and put up 35 points and shut every hater up.

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Rossonero's picture

January 07, 2020 at 12:33 pm

If I'm Matt LaFleur, I call up my old buddy Sean McVay. The Rams smacked around the Seahawks 28-12 just over a month ago. After the Seahawks first drive, their offense sputtered and went 7 drives without scoring. Few things the Rams did well:

OFFENSE
1. Fed Todd Gurley. He had 24 carries for 113 yds and a TD.

2. Nice balance of run and pass that set up McVay's play action that LaFleur likes.

3. Spread the ball around. Between Higbee, Robert Woods (7 catches), Cooper Kupp (4 catches) and Todd Gurley (4 catches), the Seahawks simply were overmatched.

DEFENSE
1. Sack fest. The Rams had 5 sacks -- 1.5 from Aaron Donald, 1.5 from Dante Fowler and 2 from some guy I've never heard of -- Samson Ebukam.

2. Kept Seattle RBs in check. Chris Carson only had 76 yds, and this was the game that Rashaad Penny tore his ACL, but for the most part, the Rams held firm.

3. Limited big plays. There were very few plays of 20+ yards or more allowed.

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jsb937's picture

January 07, 2020 at 02:54 pm

The Packers do not have the same players. This game will depend on the Offense winning it. The defense will not stop the Seahawks. We do not have Aaron Donald.

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:27 pm

Neither does Philly, but they held Seattle to 17 points...twice.

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Since'61's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:55 pm

We may not have Aaron Donald but we have Kenny Clark plus Z. and Preston Smith. Gary and Fackrell have been contributing as well. We contain Wilson we win the game. Also our guys need to remember to get their hands up if they can't get to Wilson on time. Batting down passes is just as good as any PD by the secondary.

We're healthy playing on our home field in cold weather. No excuses. Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:19 pm

You are implying a big game for Lowry. I concur.

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Rossonero's picture

January 07, 2020 at 07:37 pm

This is also payback time for the 2014 NFC Title game heartbreak. I've gotten over a lot of playoff losses, but that is one game I will never get over.

While the Packers must own the mistakes they made to allow Seattle to creep back into the game, this game is still pretty personal to me: it's time to send Pete Carroll's team packing.

They ended our season then, and now it's our time to end theirs.

I've been waiting for this moment for years. The time is NOW!

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CAG123's picture

January 07, 2020 at 05:33 pm

If the Rams and Cardinals haven't laid the blue print to beat Seattle then I don't know who has both games Russ was under constant duress and both Gurley and Drake went off for big games the Packers blue print is out there too but the Hawks don't have the guns to exploit them. This couldn't be a more tailor made opponent for the Packers.

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porupack's picture

January 07, 2020 at 06:46 pm

The packers D won't beat Seattle. Seattle with Wilson and Metcalf are going to have a lot of big gains against GB D-backs. To beat the Seattle, GB offense has to be methodical, creative, and give Seattle a dose of their own medicine with some timely trickery or fake punts. GB offense has to score TDs at every redzone opportunity; execution, trickery and no stupid penalties.

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CAG123's picture

January 07, 2020 at 07:49 pm

They've been beaten by lesser defenses and in 3 of their losses all relatively one sided the Ravens, Rams and Cardinals ran over 160 yards each with the Cardinals going for 253 no trickery needed in those games Russ was sacked 11 times with the Rams and Cards getting 5 each. This is no longer the LOB this def boast 2 outstanding LBs in KJ and Wagz and Clowney at DE that's pretty much it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:27 pm

He brings MacDougall up to the line to stack the box. Spring a TE in the flats for 5-6 yards or whatever. Make him cover.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 07, 2020 at 07:50 pm

This is a really fun post to read in an Elmer Fudd voice.

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mrj007's picture

January 07, 2020 at 09:48 pm

I just hope the Packers players can get up for the game. They were exceptionally flat against the Lions even having everything to play for. I hope they play like they did at the Vikings and not how they played in San Francisco. But who knows what team will be on the field thisSunday? I'd show the replays of 4th and 26, the two losses in OT to the Cardinals, the blowout at Atlanta and finally the epic fail in Seattle. In four of those games the Packers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. That CANNOT happen.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2020 at 10:32 pm

Those were not LaFleur's teams. Very few players left from those debacles. This is a tight group. If they pick a ball off, they will not take a knee.

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