Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NFL Divisional Playoffs Pre-Game Analysis: Seattle at Green Bay

Seattle Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do have faith in your running game … at least early on. You fooled the Greg(g) Williams (I’m docking him the second “g” b/c of the crappy first half last week) defense last week by running a handful of times early in the game. This proved especially helpful later, on the 20 yard TD pass to DJ Hackett in that riDONKulous 4th quarter.

Do hound the hell out of Brett Favre. No, Favre is not Todd Collins and will not be as easily flustered. Green Bay’s O-Line also isn’t as depleted and incompetent as Washington’s. Nonetheless, keep hurrying and knocking down Favre. He’s old … he can be hurt.

Don’t pick on the cornerbacks. They may not be spring chickens anymore, but Al Harris and Charles Woodson are beast-like and will eat Hasselbeck alive if he gets cocky and/or careless. Stick to the underneath routes early on.

Don’t get into a shootout. If the Falcons can beat you in a shootout, even in Week 17, then Brett Favre can own you in a shootout in the playoffs. Keep the pace of the game slow for at least the first three quarters, and then if you’re successful, maybe you can try to blow it open in the fourth.

Don’t let Matt Hasselbeck open his mouth. We all know what happens there, especially after the overtime coin-toss.

Green Bay Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do make it the Ryan Grant Show. Seattle’s defense relies on its speed, particularly it’s pass defense. If you can establish a solid running attack, it will keep the talented LBs, such as Lofa Tatupu, honest.

Do use the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” to your advantage. rated your stadium as the best “NFL Fan Value Experience." But what they don’t mention in that article is how much opposing teams hate playing there. I’d rather take on Seattle’s 12th man. So use Lambeau, and its boisterous fans, to your advantage. Oh, and pray for frigid weather.

Do bring in John Madden to give the pre-game pep-talk. Just in-case the team is starting to doubt it’s QB.

Don’t expect an 80/20 pass/run ratio. Seattle knows teams expect this, and will run it when you least expect. If you do keep their running attack to where it was for most of the regular season, then you have a chance against Hasselbeck’s arm.

Don’t let Brett Favre be Tony Romo. Romo is trying to be the Brett Favre of yesteryear … goofy, always smiling, flinging the ball every which way just for $hits and giggles. Unfortunately, Favre generally can’t get away with that any more, and if he tries, Marcus Trufant and Jordan Babineaux will make him pay.

Don’t confine Brett Favre too much. Yes, I know this directly contradicts the above point. And I’m not saying to let him be a gunslinger. I am, however, saying to let him be the boyish character that somehow manages to unite this team. Let that grin roam free … and yes, a couple of crazy, over-the-shoulder and through-the-legs throws are ok. But only a couple.

Key Matchups:

When Seattle has the ball

QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. CB Al Harris and CB Charles Woodson

I know it’s blurry to us, but I’m sure to Matt Hasselbeck and Al Harris, the memory of the below video is clear as day:

Even if Seattle does incorporate the run into its attack, that means a 65/35 split at best, in favor of the pass. Matt will have to maintain his composure and not be stupid or cocky in testing these two veteran corners. If he does, then he just might win out this time.

When Green Bay has the ball

RB Ryan Grant vs. LB Lofa Tatupu

Ryan Grant has done the unthinkable and given the Packers a chance to draft at a position other than running back in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. However, he meets one hell of a linebacker in Lofa Tatupu this Saturday. The Packers need Grant to pound the rock well all day in order to allow Brett Favre to have time in the pocket. If Tatupu and pals can stop Grant, then Patrick Kerney and Julian Peterson will stop Favre.


Play Calling

Mike Holmgren reverted to a pass happy offensive scheme this season when his running game wasn’t producing. Yet last week, against the Redskins, he wasn’t afraid to run it on occasion, catching Washington off-guard. Weather may have some impact on this intangible, but not a whole lot. Whatever Holmgren decides to do by mid-week will probably stick … and that decision will make-or-break the Seahawks’ season.

Brett Favre

Generally, as Favre goes, so go the Packers. I know … I’ve cited Favre a hundred times in this short piece. But how can I not? The man is one hell of an athlete and will continue to play his heart out until the final whistle blows. However, that doesn’t mean that he’ll necessarily play well during the game. The past few years have seen inconsistency become Favre’s new trademark. This past regular season, largely, was a reversion to the Favre of the 1990’s. Cheeseheads worldwide are hoping that trend sticks for 3 more games.

Final Score Prediction:

Green Bay wins, 34 - 17.

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