As the season gets closer to December, the NFL Thursday Night games have gotten better. Last week, Carolina and Pittsburgh battled in a matchup of 2 teams fighting to make the playoffs. Now this Thursday we have a battle of two teams that have not only been in the playoffs consistently for the last few seasons, but needing a win to continue that reputation. Green Bay enters the game led by Aaron Rodgers and an offense that has weapons everywhere. Seattle comes into this game at home, fresh off losing a heartbreaking game on the road in Los Angeles on Sunday. So let’s take a look at what to watch for in Seattle on Thursday night.
1. Green Bay needs to give Aaron Jones the ball and let him go to work
Do you know who leads the NFL in yards per attempt? It’s not Todd Gurley III, Kareem Hunt or James Conner. It’s the Packers newly found stud Jones. He’s averaging 6.8 yards per rush this season and 6.1 per attempt over his 2 season career. The one thing about Jones is that he doesn’t have a lot of big runs this season. If you look at his game this season, with the exception of the Miami game where he had a 67 yard rush, he hasn’t had a carry longer than 33 yards. His ability to get 6 and 7 yards a carry will make things easier for Rodgers especially against the Seahawks defense. Jones has 28 carries for 1st downs on his 73 attempts in his 7 games he has played.
The real issue has been the number of a carries that Jones has gotten. He hasn’t had a game where he’s had more than 15 in a game. The Packers need to make a conservative effort to put the ball in this playmakers hands. If Aaron can get the ball, he can do some real damage. The Seahawks gave up 149 yards to the Rams last week and have giving up 160.3 yards a game at home this season on the ground.
2. Seattle has to find a way to stop the Packers from scoring in the 4th quarter.
The Seahawks have made their living in the Pete Carroll era on its defense. It’s how they have maintained their ability to be one of the most consistent teams in the league. But this season it hasn’t been that way. Especially in the final quarter. Seattle is giving up 8.4 points per game in the 4th quarter. This is a huge contrast to last season when they were the league’s best (4 points per game). Now the defense has had its losses when it comes to personal, but if they are going to make a final push for the playoffs, this has to be fixed immediately.
Seattle can’t just build a lead and allow Rodgers, Jones, Devonte Adams and former Seahawk Jimmy Graham the ability to not only erase the lead. But allow them chances to win the game. This will be interesting because with all of those weapons, the Packers are averaging scoring only 4 points per game on the road in the final 15 minutes this season.
3. Watch Russell Wilson in the 2nd Quarter
Everyone knows how dangerous Russell Wilson is with his arm and his feet. But in the 2nd quarter this season he’s been almost perfect. During this one quarter, Russell completes 73% of his passes and averages over 10 yards an attempt. 31 of his 58 completions have been for 1st downs and he’s thrown 7 of his touchdown passes in that quarter. That just adds on to the fact that he hasn’t thrown one interception and only has 21 incompletions in their 9 games this season.
So to say that if the Packers can survive this quarter, things have been better for defense in the remaining quarters. Wilson has thrown all of his interceptions after halftime.
They have played 6 times during Wilson years. It’s tied at 3 victories a piece. They have played some classic games, but tonight has a chance to be one of them. Expect the Seahawks to try to control the clock to keep the ball out of the two Aaron’s hands. But the Seahawks will have the home field on their side and there is nothing more dangerous than Wilson with his back against the wall. Watch Wilson throw for 2 touchdowns and rush for one and they make sure that Rodgers won’t have a chance to win in the 4th quarter.
Seahawks 24 Packers 17
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