Seahawks vs. Packers: Everything you need to know
This is it. For both teams.
If 10-6 gets at team into the playoffs and 9-7 gets a team on the bubble, then there can be little doubt that the loser tonight will be all but out of contention.
Seattle (4-5) has too many tough opponents remaining (Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City to believe that it could go 5-1 in the final six games to reach reach 9-7 should the Seahawks lose tonight.
The Packers (4-4-1) have just two games remaining against winning teams (Minnesota and Chicago), but that tie would mean that Green Bay, should it lose on Thursday, would need to go 6-0 to reach 10-5-1. That likely wouldn't happen.
So expect a playoff atmosphere Thursday night in Seattle. Both teams will be fighting for their respective lives.
How and where to watch
Betting line: Seattle minus 2.
Time: 5:20 p.m., Thursday.
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
TV: FOX (KPTV 12).
Radio: Portland, KFXX, 1080 AM and Portland, KGON, 92.3 FM
RB Chris Carson, who missed Sunday's loss at the Los Angeles Rams with a hip injury, is expected to start against the Packers. So will right guard D.J. Fluker (calf), who also missed Sunday's game.
LB K.J. Wright is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.
Listed as questionable are defensive end Dion Jordan (knee), safety Mo Alexander (elbow), safety Delano Hill (quadriceps) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (groin).
Out for the Packers are safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), CB Kevin King (hamstring) and LB Nick Perry (knee).
Guard Lucas Patrick (concussion) is doubtful.
Questionable are CB Bashaud Breeland (groin) and LB Blake Martinez (ankle).
When the Seahawks have the ball
Seattle's running game has No. 1 in the NFL at 155.2 yards per game and when the Seahawks face mediocre rushing defenses, they pound them into submission. Green Bay falls into that category with the No. 22 run defense in the NFL.
With the return of RB Chris Carson, expect Seattle to throw a wave of backs, including Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, at the Packers' defense. Penny's speed, displayed in his 108-yard performance at Los Angeles on Sunday, could be a problem for Green Bay.
Running well will be important for Seattle in terms of helping QB Russell Wilson and the offensive line, which must contend with the Packers' pass rush, which has produced 31 sacks, tied for the league lead.
"They bring a ton of pressure," Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told reporters. "They come from all kinds of different spots. "
When the Packers have the ball
It all comes down to containing QB Aaron Rodgers.
Seattle's defense did not do all that well in two games against the Rams' Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Charger's Philip Rivers. So it's difficult to expect that the Seahawks' defense will fair well against Rodgers, who has thrown just one interception this season.
However, Rodgers has not been able to win shootouts this season. When opponents score 29 points or more, Green Bay is 1-4-1 and that lone win came against San Francisco.
So the key here, might be to score enough on offense to challenge Rodgers and the Packers to match, on the road against a solid defense.
Thursday will mark the return of former Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham, who had an up-and-down run with the Seahawks.
Graham has caught 33 passes for 459 yards.
“Jimmy’s been a real asset to our football team," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "He’s an excellent fit in the locker room and obviously a very good player. I think any time you have players who transition from other opportunities, it may take longer than you’d like but I think he’s a great fit for us. We’re real happy he’s here.”
Seattle has had success against Rodgers in the past, but Carroll said that's meaningless.
“Whatever happened before, it doesn’t matter," he said. "What we do now, counts. We’ll see if we can get close to him. He’s pretty darn good at avoiding it so we’ll try to make it hard on him. That’s the whole idea. He’s certainly making it hard on us.”
Other than Seattle's loss at Denver in the opener, the Seahawks have played well against mediocre teams. Green Bay falls into that category.
Expect Seattle to run all over the Packers and for Russell Wilson to take advantage with another strong game. While Green Bay does get after the quarterback it also has allowed Rodgers to get sacked 27 times.
When Seattle gets a lead, and the Packers begin relying too much on Rodgers, the Seahawks' pass rush (23 sacks) will begin to have an impact.
Green Bay is certainly capable of pulling off the minor upset on the Packers looked strong in a 31-12 win at Miami on Sunday. But the Seahawks are a different animal (literally) with a better quarterback than Miami's Brock Osweiler and they will be too much for Green Bay to handle on the road.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Packers 23.