Here is my key matchup for Saturday's divisional playoff matchup between Seattle and Green Bay ...
This game has many storylines, including the return of Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren -- who brings the Seahawks to Green Bay for the second time in five years to play a postseason game against his old team. In his seven seasons as head coach in Green Bay, Holmgren led the Packers to two Super Bowls -- winning Super Bowl XXXI against the Patriots and losing Super Bowl XXXII to Denver. The coach has a street named after him -- Holmgren Way -- and four members of his current staff were coaches with him in Green Bay. Ray Rhodes, who is not an active coach but still works for Holmgren in Seattle, also was on the staff in Green Bay and replaced Holmgren as head coach of the Packers in 1999.
The last playoff game between these teams was won on the 11th play of overtime when Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck -- who spent three seasons with Green Bay before being traded to Seattle -- threw an interception that Al Harris returned for a touchdown.
The weather for Saturday is expected to be in the 20s but dry. Both teams like to pass -- Green Bay passed 190 times more than they ran the ball during the regular season, while Seattle threw 160 times more; both teams had 30 TD passes. So the Hasselbeck vs. Harris matchup will again be critical, as is Trufant vs. Favre.
|Here's how these teams stacked up this season in some critical statisitcal categories:|
|Third-down conversion pct.||35||42.6|
Trufant had 7 interceptions in the regular season with one returned for a touchdown. He returned another for a score in last week's wild-card win against Washington. He earned a starting nod in the Pro Bowl, and while Seattle ranks 19th overall in passing yards allowed, Trufant is a key reason why they lead the NFC with just 15 TD passes allowed. Trufant is having his best season as a Seahawk, playing as well as any corner in the NFL. He is very consistent against the run and outstanding against the pass.
Favre, meanwhile seems to be enjoying the freedom he's been given more of this year in terms of changing plays at the line of scrimmage. He still has a rocket arm and can put the ball in tight spots when teams drop off in coverage. He likes to double-count at the line to predict coverages and check blitzes -- and when he sees a blitz coming he'll throw the slant pass all day long. When Favre calls a quick count, expect a running play. For the first six games of the season, Favre averaged 41 attempts per game; he finished the season averaging 33 pass attempts per game. But while the running game has picked up steam, it's still Favre, who threw for 4,155 yards on the season, who holds the key.