Up next: Green Bay Packers

When: Sunday, 10 a.m., Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.

Record: 9-5 after losing 37-36 to the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday, but still the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoff picture.

Where they rank: No. 6 on offense (15th rushing, 8th passing); No. 2 on defense (2nd rushing, 11th passing)

Series: Packers lead 7-5 in regular season games and also beat the Seahawks in the playoffs in 2007 and 2003. This will be the Seahawks’ fifth game at Lambeau in the past seven seasons, after playing there only twice in the previous 27 seasons.

Star power: Aaron Rodgers. He hasn’t made all Packer fans forget you-know-who just yet, but Rodgers is justifying his first-round selection in the 2005 NFL draft. He just happens to be the No. 4-rated passer in the league (102.4), and Rodgers has been even better on third downs – uncannily so. His passer rating on the most crucial down is 134.4, because he has thrown half his TD passes (14) on third downs with no interceptions.

Unsung hero: Ryan Grant. Unsung doesn’t exactly fit Grant, especially not after his sled dog-esque 201-yard, three-touchdown performance in a snowstorm against the Seahawks at Lambeau in the 2007 playoffs. But with Rodgers and the four-handed pass-catching tandem of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings (122 receptions for 1,936 yards and 10 TDs), Grant is too often the oh-yeah option for the Packers’ sixth-ranked offense. He has 1,105 rushing yards (ninth in the league), 1,302 total yards (eight in the league) and eight rushing TDs (tied for 11th in the league).

On the spot: The pass defense, in general, and Jarrett Bush, specifically. The Packers were lit up by Ben Roethlisberger for 503 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. In fact, Big Ben became only the third QB in league history to throw for at least 500 yards and three TDs without an interception – joining Warren Moon and Y.A. Title. Bush was beaten for a 60-yard TD pass on the Steelers’ first play of the game, a 54-yarder and then a 20-yarder on the drive to Roethlisberger’s last-second TD pass for the win. Bush is now the nickel back, because Tramon Williams is starting for the injured Al Harris.

Burning question: What’s up with Clay Matthews? The Packers’ rookie linebacker – one of four from USC who was selected in April’s draft – is having quite a season. Ten sacks, which leads the Packers and rank second among all rookies. Three fumble recoveries, which also leads the team and ties for second in the league. And with his flowing blond locks, Matthews has turned A.J. Hawk into the Packers’ linebacker with the shorter blond hair.

Familiar faces: Backup RB Ahman Green played for the Seahawks (1998-99), as did assistant head coach Winston Moss (1995-97) before starting his coaching career with them in 1998; assistant special teams coach Curtis Fuller (2001-02); and assistant director of pro personnel Tim Terry (2000-02). GM Ted Thompson was the Seahawks VP of football operations (2000-04) and director of college scouting John Dorsey (1999) and director of football operations John Schneider (2000) also worked for the Seahawks. Strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding held the same position at Washington State (1977).

The last word: “You’re mad and upset because you felt like you should have won the game. You felt like if you won this game you’ve got 10 wins, you can talk a little playoff action. But right now we’re not. We can’t talk until we get that 10th win.” – Driver after Sunday’s loss


Tags: 
Comments Off