TSX GAME SCOUT: Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (4-5)
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:20 PM ET, CenturyLink Field; FOX/NFL Network, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Kristina Pink (Field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 11-7. The all-time series between these two teams has been largely decided based on home-field advantage, as the Seahawks have gone 3-9 at Lambeau Field and beaten the Packers five out of seven games on their own field. The Packers have won the past three matchups, which were all played in Green Bay, including a 17-9 win at Lambeau in September 2017.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Coming off a 273-yard rushing performance against the Rams, the Seahawks should feel confident they can continue to impose their will on the ground against the Packers. Despite possessing a solid front line featuring defensive end Mike Daniels and defensive tackle Kenny Clark as well as a reliable linebacking corps headlined by leading tackler Blake Martinez, Green Bay has given up over 100 yards rushing in six of their nine games this season. If Seattle can keep the rushing attack rolling, Wilson should be under less duress than in recent games against Green Bay, as he's been sacked six times and consistently harassed in the pocket the past three meetings between the two teams. Ball security will also be crucial, as Wilson has uncharacteristically thrown 12 interceptions in six career games against the Packers.
While running the football will stay a focal point of Seattle's offense, the Seahawks must shore up their run defense and force the Packers to become one-dimensional. Over the past two weeks, head coach Pete Carroll's defense has given up 309 yards rushing on only 45 carries, surrendering nearly seven yards per carry to Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley II in back-to-back losses. As pointed out by Carroll on Monday, inconsistent play at the line of scrimmage up front and poor execution of run fits have hurt the Seahawks, opening up big-play opportunities for opponents in the play-action passing game. Slowing down Aaron Rodgers will be Seattle's top priority, but holding Aaron Jones at bay will be vital to the team's chances at snapping a two-game losing streak.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Packers LT David Bakhtiari and RT Bryan Bulaga vs. Seahawks DE Frank Clark. This is no longer the "Legion of Boom" defense but Seattle enters the game ranked ninth in the league in points allowed. The one big-time game-wrecker is Clark, who leads the team with eight sacks and three forced fumbles. Clark will line up against both tackles in hopes of finding a matchup that can lead to a big play on quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Bakhtiari is one of the game's elite offensive linemen and, when healthy, Bulaga is one of the better right tackles.
--Seahawks C Justin Britt vs. Packers DT Kenny Clark. Though defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has changed some things compared to his predecessor Dom Capers, the Packers still run a 3-4 defensive scheme with Clark anchoring the defensive line as a nose tackle. The 23-year-old has been a force in the interior for Green Bay, registering 40 combined tackles, a career-best 5.0 sacks, and eight quarterback hits. When he hasn't been collapsing the pocket and stuffing the run, he's also been active getting his hands up and swatting away passes, as he's recorded two passes defensed in the trenches. Less than a week after battling with the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, Britt's ability to neutralize Clark will be vital to Seattle's offensive success on Thursday night.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Seahawks G Jordan Simmons. After playing only a handful of games at USC due to injury issues, Simmons entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders prior to the 2017 season. The Seahawks liked what they saw with minimum game tape and claimed him off waivers in early September, but the team surprised many by opting to start him for an injured D.J. Fluker rather than former second-round pick Ethan Pocic. Head coach Pete Carroll indicated Seattle wanted another big body to fill the void against the Rams' dominant defensive front and Simmons exceeded all expectations in his first NFL start, helping the Seahawks rush for 273 yards and holding up fairly well in pass protection. If somehow Fluker can't return on Thursday, Simmons will have another chance to impress against the Packers.
FAST FACTS: PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS threw 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 112.1 rating last week. Passed for 311 yards in last meeting. Has 10 pass TDs vs. 2 INTs for 101.5 rating in 7 career starts vs. Sea. In his past 4 on road, has 1,252 pass yards (313 per game) with 8 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 98.5 rating. Is 1 of 2 QBs in 2018 (DREW BREES) with 15+ TD passes (17) & less than 2 INTs (1). Has 7 TD passes vs. 0 INTs for 114.1 rating in his past 2 Thursday games. ... RB AARON JONES had career-high 172 scrimmage yards (145 rush, 27 rec.) & 2 rush TDs, his 1st-career multi-TD game, in Week 10. Had rush TD in only career Thursday game (9/28/17 vs. Chi.). ... WR DAVANTE ADAMS had 2 rec. TDs last week. Since 2016, ties for NFL lead with 31 TD catches. ... TE JIMMY GRAHAM has 4 rec. TDs in his past 5 Thursday games. ... LB BLAKE MARTINEZ led team with 9 tackles last week. Has 4 TFL & 3 sacks in his past 3 on road. ... SEAHAWKS QB RUSSELL WILSON passed for 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 123.2 rating & had 92 rush yards in Week 10. Has 4 pass TDs vs. 0 INTs for 105.9 rating in 2 career home meetings. Has 13 TDs vs. 1 INT for 103.8 rating in his past 6 at home. In his past 6 Thursday games, is 6-0 with 12 pass TDs vs. 3 INTs for 111.9 rating. ... RB CHRIS CARSON has 457 scrimmage yards (91.4 per game) & rush TD in 5 career home games. ... RB MIKE DAVIS had 1st-career rec. TD last week. ... Rookie RB RASHAAD PENNY had career-high 108 rush yards & 1st-career rush TD last week. ... WR TYLER LOCKETT had TD catch in Week 10. Has TD catch in 2 of 3 career Thursday games. ... TE NICK VANNETT aims for his 3rd in row with TD catch. ... DE FRANK CLARK has 5 sacks, 2 FFs & FR in his past 4. Has 2 sacks, FF & INT in his past 3 at home. ... LB BOBBY WAGNER led team with 13 tackles last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 13+ tackles & his 6th in row vs. GB with 8+ tackles.
PREDICTION: This is a huge swing game for both teams as the Packers try to stay alive in the division race, while the Seahawks' best hope is a wild card. A loss here and a Los Angeles win Monday would clinch the NFC West for the Rams.
OUR PICK: Seahawks, 27-24