The two playoff teams least likely to win the Super Bowl according to my stats meet on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. How the Packers earned the second seed in the National Football Conference would require an inquiry if it was a horse race. And the fact that the Seattle Seahawaks hung with the top seed San Francisco 49ers until a goal line stand in the final game of the regular season tipped the balance to the much more talented Niners, is a head scratcher.
Both these teams won close game after close game during the regular season. Consider this, the Seattle Seahawks opened the season at home and edged the Cincinnati Bengals by one point, and the Bengals went on to win only two games the entire year. Then, in the 16th week of the season, the Seahawks lost their first and second string running backs in a loss on their home field to an Arizona Cardinals team that struggled for victories all season.
Last week, the Seahawks opened the postseason in Philadelphia against an Eagles team they had beaten earlier this season at Lincoln Financial Field. Again, as a Wild Card, Seattle got a win over the Eagles by an identical score as their regular season road win, 17-9. Last week, they were greatly aided by a huge break when Philadelphia starting quarterback Carson Wentz was literally knocked out of the game by Seahawks defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney. His replacement, Josh McCown, had already retired from playing in the NFL and was prepared to work with ESPN and coach high school football this season when the Eagles called on him to serve as the team’s backup after an injury sidelined Nate Sudfeld.
They were hoping to not need him, although Wentz has never finished a playoff season with the Eagles. He was injured two years ago in December when he had the inside track to become the league’s Most Valuable Player. His replacement, Nick Foles, finished the campaign while leading the Eagles to their only franchise Super Bowl win. Last season, Wentz was injured again, and Foles came to the rescue to guide the Eagles into the playoffs and earn a postseason road win before their campaign ended against the Saints in New Orleans in the Divisional round.
This year, Foles was on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster when Wentz was knocked out of action, and McCown didn’t match Foles heroics while failing to guide the Eagles into the endzone in the eight point home loss.
The Seahawks, who historically enjoy one of the best home field advantages in football, split their eight games at CenturyLink Field this season. Further evidence that this is not the best group head coach Pete Carroll has guided into the playoffs.
Still, he has Russell Wilson running his offense from the quarterback position. The eight year veteran has displayed leadership qualities that seemingly can elevate his team to a contender on his back alone. Last Sunday, in Philadelphia, the gap between McCown and Wilson spelled the difference in the Seahawks win.
But, this makeshift offense, that after the Week 16 injuries pulled out of retirement twice retired Marshawn Lynch to run the ball, is now up against a Green Bay Packers squad that surrenders an edge at the quarterback position to no one. They have Aaron Rodgers directing their attack, and while he has not had his best season he is still coming off two weeks rest and at home against a Seattle team playing a second straight week on the road.
If the Packers or Seahawks were up against the 49ers or Minnesota Vikings this weekend, I would bet against either one of them. But, given they are playing each other, one of them has to win … before being eliminated next week.
The team most likely to extend their season one week is the home standing Green Bay Packers.
Qoxhi Picks: Green Bay Packers (-4) over Seattle Seahawks