Packers QB Rodgers healthy, ready to make most of latest playoff opportunity
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers won his first Super Bowl nearly a decade ago. The time to capture a second is running out.
“It’s on my mind every day,” Rodgers said. “That’s why we play the game. That’s why you put in the time in the offseason. That’s why you do the little things. It’s to put yourself in this position where we’re two games away from being able to compete for that.
“I’m 36, I know what this is all about. This is an important opportunity for us. I feel like I got a lot of really good years left, but you never know. A lot of things happen year to year. We’ve had some great teams that have been an injury away or a play away from being special, so I want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will host the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game. It will be the first postseason appearance for Rodgers in three years.
“I’m at the age now, I believe, that Brett (Favre) was when I was drafted, and obviously closer to the finish than the beginning,” he said. “The most important thing is winning, and I know how difficult a couple of those years were when we weren’t winning.”
Rodgers led an injury-laden Packers team to the NFC championship game in Green Bay’s previous postseason appearance following the 2016 season before getting blown out 44-21 by the Falcons. But this Packers squad — including Rodgers — is as healthy as Green Bay has been in recent years.
“I feel great,” Rodgers said. “I started all 16 (games) and wasn’t in the training room a whole lot. I had some issues early in the season with my knee. But, man, I felt great from about Week 8 on. … It feels good to be where I’m at right now.”
LACK OF EXPERIENCE
The biggest issue for the Packers is playoff experience, or a lack thereof. There are only four players left from the 2010 Super Bowl team and seven from the 2014 team that lost to the Seahawks in the NFC championship game in Seattle. Matt LaFleur is also preparing for his first playoff test as a head coach.
“I think it just goes back to doing what you always do,” the 40-year-old LaFleur said. “It’s just like every other week. I think for guys that maybe haven’t experienced the playoffs, there’s definitely a heightened intensity around it. But as far as your process, as far as how you go about your daily business, I think it’s got to be the same as it is any other week.”
CAN YOU DIGGS IT?
No one has more experience on Seattle’s roster playing against Rodgers than safety Quandre Diggs. Until the middle of this season, Diggs faced Rodgers twice a year as part of the Detroit secondary. Even though it’s a changed offense from what he played against in the past, Diggs is still being leaned on by teammates for little tips on how to try and slow down Rodgers.
“He is a really smart guy and any knowledge that he has is always good to gain,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
The addition of Diggs has been a huge boost for Seattle’s defense. The Seahawks are 5-1 in the six games Diggs has played since coming over in a midseason trade from the Lions. While the defensive numbers aren’t markedly different, Seattle has played better with Diggs on the field.
KEEP IT CLEAN
LaFleur said Monday that a “little bit of a sickness” had crept into the building. But he said on Wednesday that “most of the guys are pretty healthy right now.”
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams had a simple prescription for the problem.
“Wash your hands, wash your butt, man. That’s it,” said the two-time Pro Bowler.
DK Metcalf had quite the debut to the NFL playoffs. Metcalf set an NFL rookie playoff record with 160 yards receiving last week against the Eagles. Metcalf had a season-high seven catches and pulled in a 53-yard touchdown in the second half that gave Seattle an 11-point lead. He also had a 36-yard catch on Seattle’s final possession to seal the victory.
“(Metcalf is) just a big, physical, fast, young receiver who I think is going to be a really, really good one,” LaFleur said of the 6-foot-4, 229-pound second-round pick from Ole Miss.
Metcalf had a strong second half of his rookie season, but the stage of the postseason put him in the spotlight after his performance against the Eagles. He’s caught at least six passes in six of the past nine games. He’s received praise all season from coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson for his progression.
“Just seeing that they trust in me, two of the highest people on the team trust in me to get things done,” Metcalf said. “I just got to take that and continue working and show them why they trust me so much.”
TROUBLE AT LAMBEAU
The Seahawks are 8-1 on the road this season, including a 17-9 win in Philadelphia in the wild-card round, but have lost eight straight at Lambeau Field and are 1-9 all time in the Packers’ stadium. Wilson is 0-3 as a starter at Lambeau with a passer rating of 60.42. Wilson has completed just 55 of 96 his passes (57.3%) for 604 yards with six interceptions and just three touchdowns.
“I hope there’s some carryover,” Packers outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell said of Wilson. “We’ve had a lot of success against him here and hopefully we can do it again. Hopefully the weather will be to our advantage and I think we have a good game plan for him.”
The forecast calls for a kickoff temperature in the low 20s, but a potential winter storm is shaping up to arrive in the region Saturday night, bringing gusty winds and up to 10 inches of snow. Packers officials released a notice on Thursday seeking as many as 700 people to help shovel to clear out the expected snowfall at Lambeau.
SEATTLE (12-5) at GREEN BAY (13-3)
Sunday, 5:40 p.m. CT, Fox
OPENING LINE — Packers by 3 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Seahawks 8-8-1; Packers 10-6
SERIES RECORD — Packers lead 13-9
LAST MEETING — Seahawks beat Packers 27-24, Nov. 15, 2018
LAST WEEK — Seahawks beat Eagles 17-9; Packers bye
AP PRO32 RANKING — Seahawks No. 6, Packers No. 5
SEAHAWKS OFFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (4), PASS (14).
SEAHAWKS DEFENSE — OVERALL (26), RUSH (22), PASS (27).
PACKERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (15), PASS (17).
PACKERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (23), PASS (14).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — This will mark sixth consecutive season these two teams have played each other either in regular and/or postseason, with each team winning three contests at home. Last postseason meeting between these teams was in Seattle for 2014 NFC Championship with Seahawks coming back to win, 28-22, in overtime. … Seahawks have won at least one playoff game in seven of eight postseason appearances under Pete Carroll. … Seahawks have lost past eight trips to Lambeau Field, including two playoff losses. Last win in Green Bay: Nov. 1, 1999. … Seahawks have lost eight straight on road in divisional round. Only divisional round road win came on Dec. 31, 1983 at Miami. … QB Russell Wilson threw for 325 yards and had 108.3 passer rating in win vs. Eagles. Second time in past eight games Wilson posted rating of 100 or above. … Wilson led Seattle with 45 yards rushing. Rest of Seahawks had 19 yards on 17 carries. … RB Marshawn Lynch has TD run in each of two games since returning from 14-month layoff. … WR DK Metcalf set rookie postseason record with 160 yards receiving vs. Eagles. Had season-high seven catches, including 53-yard touchdown. … Seahawks set postseason franchise record with seven sacks in win over Eagles. Seven sacks came from six different players. DE Quinton Jefferson had two. … S Bradley McDougald had 11 tackles and sack in win over Eagles. … DE Jadeveon Clowney had one sack and two tackles for loss vs. Eagles playing through core muscle injury. … Seahawks have not forced a turnover in three straight games. Forced 32 in first 14 games. … Packers won two of previous three postseason matchups against Seahawks. Both of Green Bay’s wins took place at Lambeau Field. … Packers earned bye week to divisional round for sixth time since 1978 (2014, 2011, 2007, 1997, 1996). Green Bay is 4-1 in previous five divisional games after a bye. … Packers 9-10 in divisional round of playoffs with victories in two of last three. … Green Bay is 6-1 at home in divisional round of playoffs. … Packers’ seven appearances in divisional round of playoffs since 2010 are tied with Seattle for most in NFC and second most in NFL (New England, nine). … QB Aaron Rodgers has started six divisional playoff games, throwing for 1,819 yards (303.2 per game), 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 100.1. Dating to 2008, Rodgers is No. 2 in NFL in passer rating in divisional playoff games (minimum 75 attempts), his 14 passing TDs are No. 2 behind New England’s Tom Brady (22 TDs in nine games) and his 303.2 passing yards per game are No. 3.