The Seattle Seahawks will look to continue their playoff run Saturday in Green Bay vs the North Division champion Packers. Seattle is coming off a 35-14 win over the Redskins in a NFC Wild Card game last Saturday, and this week will look to dethrone a Packers team that is looking and thinking about the Super Bowl. Here are five keys that the Packers must work on in order to upset the Pack and make it to next weeks NFC Championship game.
1. Protect Matt Hasselbeck – Sounds rather simple, but with the physical Packers front seven, this is a key. Hasselbeck has been banged up enough the last two seasons, and in order for the Hawks to have a shot in this game, they have to keep him on his feet. He can move around in the pocket, which should work, but he also can’t be too careless with the football when on the run.
2. Run even if it Doesn’t Work – Seattle hasn’t run all season, and that likey won’t change here against a Packers team that allows 102.9 yards per game. The Hawks only put up 101.2 yards per game, and last week ran for just 77. The key here is to keep running in order to take a bit of pressure off of Hasselbeck and the passing game. You also never know when you may be able to break one for a big gain. Give Maurice Morris more chances as well if Shaun Alexander is off to a slow start.
3. Run Various Defenses vs Favre – The Hawks defense did a good job dropping back in coverage as well as rushing at key times last week vs the Redskins, and in order to make it tough for Brett Favre to get the ball downfield, the Seattle defense has to do a good job disguising coverages. Green Bay will try to run to be able to run play-action, so stopping Ryan Grant will make Green Bay one-dimensional, which is a key to success for the Hawks.
4. Play Smart – Seattle almost botched the entire game last week when they allowed a kickoff to bounce right into the Redskins hands. They missed a field goal, saving the Hawks and allowing them to rally. They can’t have those types of mistakes on the road against a 13-win team. Same things go for the penalties, they did a solid job in this department last week, with only three for 30 yards.
5. Convert on Third Downs – Last week they were just 2-for-11 vs the Skins, and on the season have converted just 35 percent, a number that if they are going to win Saturday has to improve. The key to gaining first downs on third downs is to have makable third downs, stay out of 3rd-and-8 or worse. Gain 5-7 yards on first and second downs, and the Hawks should be in business come third downs.