The Green Bay Packers will travel to the Pacific Northwest to play their bitter rival, the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football. The Seahawks are clawing their way back towards the postseason with a new found running game. The key to victory for Green Bay will be the run defense.
Green Bay Packers Run Defense Key vs. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks Running Game
The Seattle Seahawks in the Pete Carroll-era were known for two things: a shutdown defense and an old school, smash-mouth running game. Over the past few years, injuries and retirement forced Carroll and General Manager John Schneider to adapt. It took two years, but they have formed a formidable running back by committee that will give Green Bay’s run defense a lot of trouble on Thursday Night Football.
Seattle is second in the league in rushing attempts (288) and yards (1,370), and first in rushing yards per game (152.2). The commitment to their newly formed running game is paying dividends on the gridiron as they play with more attitudes, which resembles the team that once ruled the NFL. The scariest part about Seattle’s running game is that it is only getting better.
They started the season with two running backs Mike Davis and Chris Carson; however, last week the Seahawks enjoyed their best rushing performance of the season. The player who turned heads on Sunday was rookie running back Rashaad Penny as he gained 108 yards on 12 carries against the Los Angeles Rams.
After the game, Carroll raved about the young running back when he met with the media.
The good news for Green Bay is that thus far Seattle has only scored six rushing touchdowns, which is tied for 19thin the league.
Green Bay Run Defense
In Green Bay, the defense, which has plagued the team from postseason success for many years, has improved drastically. The hiring of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been the best move the Packers made in the offseason. However, the run defense needs to improve fast.
In the opener, the Chicago Bears ran for 139 yards. Two weeks later, Adrian Peterson ran for 120. And then it was the Detroit Lions’ Kerryon Johnson’s 70 yards. The next week, the San Francisco 49ers ran for 174 yards. Todd Gurley ran for 114 on 25 carries, and then kick-returner Cordarelle Patterson ran for 61 yards on just 11 carries.
Green Bay ranks 20thin the league in yards allowed (1,088) and 22ndin yards per game (120.9). They are tied with the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints for 21stin the NFL in rushing touchdowns allowed with nine.
This season, Packers’ opponents have run the ball 242 times, which ranks 15thin the NFL. However, the 242 carries against are closer to the league’s worst (Miami Dolphins’ 293) than the best (Philadelphia Eagles’ 178).
Green Bay’s front-seven needs to take advantage of a weak offensive line and force Russell Wilson to beat them through the air. The Seahawks are at their best when they run with authority, and use the play-action to open up passing lanes. The Packers pass defense is good enough to limit the Seahawks passing offense. Shutting down the running game will go a long way in winning this tilt.
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