The first game on Sunday features the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks in a matchup for the NFC Championship.
GREEN BAY PACKERS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Sunday, FOX, 2:05 PM CST)
Despite an injured calf that visibly affected quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the divisional round, the Green Bay Packers have moved on to the conference finale against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.
While winning against the Seahawks is a tall task in its own right, what makes this game more daunting for Green Bay is having to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, where they have been nearly unbeatable during the past three seasons.
From 2012-2014, the Seahawks are 25-2 including playoff and regular season games. That span, by no coincidence, corresponds directly to the beginning of QB Russell Wilson's career. Wilson has a 102 passer rating in those 27 games. In the four playoff home games specifically, Wilson rushed for 439 yards and four touchdowns.
The other playmaker to watch for the Seahawks is Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Lynch is the only player in the league to rush for 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.
Seattle's dual-rushing threat could mean substantial problems for the Packers, who on the season ranked 23rd in stopping the run at 119.9 yards rushing allowed per game.
To stay at pace with the Seahawks offense, Rodgers will have to continue his postseason magic. Rodgers' 105.3 postseason passer ranking is the second best mark in NFL history (second only to Wilson's 109.6 rating), and going 24 of 35 for 316 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Cowboys only helped to boost it.
Wide receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb each had 11 targets and more than 115 yards receiving against the Cowboys, so watch for Rodgers to be looking to find them once again. Running back Eddie Lacy provides an already historical ground game for Green Bay, as his 2,317 yards rushing are the most by any player in Green Bay's history.
The Packers will be up against the game's best defense in the self-dubbed "Legion of Boom."
The Seattle defense ranked first against the pass (185.6 yards per game) and third against the run (81.5) this season, and the Seahawks secondary had three of its members, safety Kam Chancellor, cornerback Richard Sherman and S Earl Thomas, selected to the Pro Bowl. Sherman, who had an interception last week against the Carolina Panthers, leads the NFL with 25 picks since 2011.
Green Bay met Seattle at CenturyLink Field in Week 1 of the season in a game in which the Seahawks won in convincing fashion, 36-16. Rodgers will need to make sure that doesn't happen again if he and the Packers are to reach their second Super Bowl in five years and end the run of the reigning champions' bid to repeat.
|LAST WEEK'S RESULTS (JANUARY 10-11)|
|Saturday, January 10||Sunday, January 11|
|NEW ENGLAND 35, Baltimore 31||GREEN BAY 26, Dallas 21|
|SEATTLE 31, Carolina 17||Indianapolis 24, DENVER 13|
|Home Team in Caps|
|2014 CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND SCHEDULE (JANUARY 18|
|Sunday, January 18|
|Green Bay at Seattle 2:05 PM (FOX)|
|Indianapolis at New England 5:40 PM (CBS)|
|All times local|