SEAHAWKS TRY TO REPEAT AS NFC CHAMPS, CAN RODGERS AND PACKERS GET IN THE WAY?

Before last week, it was possible to imagine the Green Bay Packers building off a strong finish to a 12-4 season and dethroning the Seattle Seahawks as NFC Champions. But, the 26-21 survival of Dallas last Sunday afternoon raised a lot of questions about Green Bay’s championship pedigree.

*Aaron Rodgers is hobbled with a torn calf muscle, which limits his ability to make the most of the yards he is gaining. The Packers put up more than 400 yards on 6.4 yards-per-play last week yet still had to sweat the ending. They’re unlikely to match those numbers this week vs. a much better defense.

*The GB defense only forced FOUR incomplete passes from Tony Romo all day, and allowed 6.2 yards themselves on a per-play basis. If defense wins championships, this defense isn’t ready to win a championship.

*The defense let the Cowboys convert on third down 50% of the time, rush for almost 150 yards, and score what would probably have been a game winning touchdown if not for a goofy definition of a catch in the rulebook.

The Packers were fortunate to win last week…and will now be stepping up in class at a much tougher locale.

*Aaron Rodgers will be facing a MUCH tougher defense…one of the toughest defenses in history, in a very hostile environment. Weather may not be helping either.

*The defense will be facing a superior running game (Dallas is great on the ground, but Seattle is even better), and another quarterback who emphasizes high percentage throws while driving the field.

Is this game over already? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about Sunday’s NFC Championship showdown…

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Green Bay: 12-4 (#20 schedule in USA Today)
Seattle: 12-4 (#12 schedule in USA Today)

Both teams had the same won-lost record this season. Seattle accomplished that against a slightly tougher schedule. Of course, Aaron Rodgers may not be able to play at 100% this week…and Green Bay isn’t a 12-4 caliber team when he’s not at 100%. Handicappers will have to estimate of how effective he can be while hobbled.

Yards-Per-Play
Green Bay: 6.2 on offense, 5.3 on defense
Seattle: 5.9 on offense, 4.6 on defense

Green Bay was a sharp +0.9 this season, a true tribute to their regular season form. Seattle was even better at +1.3, maintaining their championship form of last season. Healthy Green Bay might be the second best team in the whole NFL this year. Too bad they have to play on the road against the best!

Turnover Differential
Green Bay: +14
Seattle: +9

Green Bay did a better job in the risk/reward area this season. That will give them a chance to compete on Sunday if Seattle continues to lay back to keep everything in front of them. A patient Rodgers can slowly exploit that while running clock. Then, maybe the defense can force a miscue from the less experienced Russell Wilson.

Market Performance
Green Bay: 9-6-1 ATS
Seattle: 9-6-1 ATS

Both teams were moneymakers this season…though Seattle now has the better mark if you include last week’s Divisional Round. The Seahawks are now 10-6-1 ATS…building on last year’s value. It’s amazing how long it’s taking oddsmakers to price this team like a true superpower! Green Bay fell to 9-7-1 ATS…but is arguably as valuable as Seattle when Rodgers is healthy. The market underestimates his blowout potential as well.

Current Line: Seattle by 7.5, total of 46.5

Carolina might have been closer than +7.5 last week if they hadn’t lost the turnover category 3-0. The Panthers won total yardage 362-348, and actually converted 56% of their third downs because the Seahawks weren’t attacking as aggressively as you might have expected. They got the turnovers anyway! But, if Newton can move the chains like that on the way to 362 passing yards…then Rodgers can do even better in both categories if he takes what’s being given. Green Bay does have a chance to make this interesting. But, they will need to play much closer to regular season form than what they managed last week vs. Dallas in what should have been very friendly home circumstances. Last week’s Packers weren’t a Super Bowl caliber team. Their “sleeper” potential resides in the fact that Seattle wasn’t playing Super Bowl caliber defense last week.

JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his full team of experts to find you the right way to play both championship games this Sunday. You can purchase the final word for this game and Indianapolis/New England right here at the website with your credit card this weekend. If you have any questions, call us Friday during normal business hours or Saturday/Sunday morning at 1-800-323-4453.

We’ll preview that Colts/Patriots game in the AFC title tilt in our next report. Don’t make a move until you see what JIM HURLEY’S indicator stats have to say about that game! Here’s what’s coming up the next few days…

Saturday: NFL Early Look…AFC Championship featuring Indianapolis at N. England
Sunday: Bonus Football Coverage dealing with late developments
Monday: Big Monday Basketball (Pitt at Duke, Villanova at Georgetown, or OU at Kansas)
Tuesday: College Basketball Preview…Iowa at Wisconsin

We’ll let weekend hoops results determine which basketball games get previewed Wednesday and Thursday. Make sure you’re with us seven days a week so you’re getting winning information in all sports!

We’re now just hours away from the NFC and AFC Championships. When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!!

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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
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