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Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Seattle Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers: Prediction, preview, pick to win
Jody Nelson (87) of the Green Bay Packers picks up a first down as he is chased down by Byron Maxwell (41) of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington on January 18, 2015. Seattle won 28-22. Photo by Troy Wayrynen/UPI | License Photo

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Lambeau Field. TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews.

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SERIES HISTORY: 18th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 10-7. Russell Wilson was intercepted a career-high five times and Seattle lost a game by more than 10 points for the first time in over five years in Green Bay's 38-10 victory at Lambeau Field last December. Seattle has not won at Lambeau Field since 1999 in Mike Holmgren's first season as coach after leaving the Packers, with the Packers winning seven straight by an average of 18.9 points.

GAMEDATE: 9/10/17

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KEYS TO THE GAME: The big matchup will be Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' high-scoring offense -- even stronger with the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett -- against Seattle's stingy defense, even stronger with the addition of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

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The Seahawks will need to utilize the load of talent on their defensive line to pressure Rodgers into mistakes in the passing game. Creating pressure with their front four would allow Seattle the chance to leave as many defenders back in coverage as possible against one of the league's best passing attacks. They have Earl Thomas this time, too, unlike their 38-10 blowout loss in December.

Green Bay's revamped defense will be tested by Russell Wilson and former Packers running back Eddie Lacy. After getting shredded for 44 points by Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay added cornerback Davon House and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois in free agency and used its first four draft picks on defensive players. The tinkering has continued, with veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, rookie outside linebacker Chris Odom and veteran defensive lineman Quinton Dial signed since Saturday's league-wide roster cutdown.

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For Seattle, Wilson must avoid the interceptions he has been prone to throw against the Packers. Controlling the game on the ground with their variety of options would go a significant way toward limiting turnovers.

While Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will undoubtedly come after Wilson with regularity, it's unlikely the Seahawks' quarterback will be rattled into five interceptions, like he was nine months ago.

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MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

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--Packers WRs Jordy Nelson and Randle Cobb vs. Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin. As often as Seattle will be in nickel coverage against the Packers, both Nelson and Cobb will be able to find matchups against Seattle's rookie cornerback. With Richard Sherman on the opposite side, Green Bay will come hard at the rookie and see whether he can hold up. Griffin will be a frequent target of Rodgers and the Packers' attack.

--Seahawks RB Eddie Lacy vs. Packers' run defense. Lacy played four years in Green Bay and seemed headed toward a memorable career in green and gold. But injuries and weight issues stymied him in 2015 and 2016, then he signed with Seattle in free agency. With Thomas Rawls questionable with a high ankle sprain, Lacy should get a lot of carries against his former team.

SEAHAWKS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Cornerback Shaquill Griffin. The third-round pick will have the most asked of him of any Seattle rookie. Whether he starts or plays primarily in nickel packages, Griffin will see significant playing time and have the most chances to impact the game. Playing opposite Richard Sherman, he is likely to be tested frequently, which could lead to interception opportunities.

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PACKERS NOTABLE ROOKIE: Cornerback Kevin King. Green Bay was leaning toward taking King in the first round of April's draft, but traded back. The Packers were then thrilled when King was still available with the first pick in the second round. The 6-foot-3 King was the tallest corner in the draft and is one of the biggest corners in Packers history. Despite King's size, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and showed his athleticism by posting the top times among cornerbacks in the three-cone drill (6.56) and 20-yard shuttle (3.89) during the NFL Combine.

FAST FACTS: Seattle QB Russell Wilson set career-highs in attempts (546), completions (353) and passing yards (4,219) last season. He tied for the most wins by a QB in his first five seasons. He and Matt Ryan had 56.

Seattle WR Doug Baldwin tied Bobby Engram's franchise record with 94 catches last season. Baldwin set a career-high with 1,128 receiving yards.

DL Sheldon Richardson makes his Seattle debut after being acquired in a trade with the New York Jets. He has 18 sacks in four seasons.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers led the NFL in 2016 with 40 TD passes and became the fourth QB in NFL history to throw 40 TD in multiple seasons. He had 4,428 passing yards, his sixth career 4,000-yard season. That's the most in team history.

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Green Bay WR Jordy Nelson was named NFL Comeback Player of Year in 2016. Coming off an ACL injury, he caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and an NFL-best 14 TDs.

This game will feature a matchup of the Bennett brothers -- Seattle DE Michael and new Green Bay TE Martellus. It will be the third time they have faced each other in an NFL game.

PREDICTION: These teams are considered the NFC's best, so the winner takes a huge step in the hunt for home-field advantage. The Packers have had a lot of that vs. Seattle, but a healthy Legion of Boom and the addition of Richardson might change that.

OUR PICK: Seattle Seahawks, 24-20.

--Chris Cluff

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