For the fifth straight season, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers will play each other, but this is the first time since the 2014 NFC Championship Game that the venue is CenturyLink Field.
Since Russell Wilson’s rookie season, the Seahawks-Packers “rivalry” has been won exclusively by the home team, something Seattle will try to keep intact when these sides face off on Thursday, November 15th. While the Seahawks have undergone several changes on the coaching staff, let’s not forget that the Packers also failed to make the playoffs, and they too dismissed their offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as reshuffled things in the front office.
In the previous five seasons in which Seattle and Green Bay met, these were the end-of-year defensive DVOA rankings for the Packers:
2012 - 8th
2014 - 16th
2015 - 9th
2016 - 20th
2017 - 20th
At best, Dom Capers’ group were pretty good without being elite. In 2016 and 2017 they were worse than mediocre. And yet, for reasons I still do not understand, they are Russell Wilson’s bogey team.
In six career games vs. Green Bay (postseason included), Russell Wilson’s completion percentage is a woeful 56.4% (98/174 attempts), with 8 touchdown passes to 10 interceptions, and a lost fumble, as well as 15 sacks taken, and an AY/A of 4.85, way below his career average of 8.1. His best performance by far was in the 2014 season opener, as he was an efficient 19/28 for 191 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in a 36-16 thrashing of Green Bay. The rematch in the NFC Championship Game was a shockingly poor showing... until it wasn’t, and even at his worst, he found a way to get the W.
The last three trips to Lambeau Field have seen the Seahawks perform increasingly worse on the scoreboard. They managed 17 points in 2015, with both touchdowns and almost all of the good offense occurring in the 3rd quarter, then a disastrous 38-10 drubbing in 2016 as Wilson tossed a career-high five interceptions, and in the 2017 season opener they mustered up just three Blair Walsh field goals.
Green Bay drafted cornerbacks in the 1st and 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft, going with Jaire Alexander out of Louisville with their top choice, followed by Joshua Jackson of Iowa on Day 2. Add in the hopeful development of Kevin King in his second-year, and the revamped but inexperienced Packers secondary looks promising. On the defensive line, they added former New York Jet Muhammad Wilkerson, who’s trying to turn his career around after looking like one of the league’s best defensive players in 2015. We already know how much havoc Mike Daniels has wreaked on Seattle’s OL.
Another subplot for this year’s matchup is the battle of former New York Jets coordinators. Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer and Packers DC Mike Pettine held their respective positions with the Jets during the 2009-2010 seasons, when they reached the AFC Championship Game twice. Whereas Darrell Bevell vs. Dom Capers was clearly a battle won by Capers, the hope is that Schottenheimer can outsmart and outscheme Pettine, and obviously for the players to do their part on the gridiron.
All eyes of course will be fixated on Wilson. If Seattle figures to be in the playoff hunt by mid-November, they’ll need #3 to conquer the team that’s given him by far the most difficulty of his already illustrious career.