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January 12, 2015 at 8:59 AM

First Look: Green Bay Packers

Here’s our First Look at the Green Bay Packers, Seattle’s opponent in the NFC Championship game Sunday at 12:05 p.m.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

2014 record: 12-4, won NFC North.

Coach: Mike McCarthy (94-49-1 in nine regular seasons, all with Green Bay).

Last game: Beat Dallas, 26-21, in Divisional Playoff game Sunday.

Series record: The two teams have met 15 times in the regular season with the Packers winning eight. This will be the third post-season meeting between the two. Green Bay won the two prior meetings, a 33-27 overtime win in a 2003 NFC Wild Card Game, and a 42-20 win in a 2007 NFC Divisional Playoff game.

Early line: Seahawks by 7.

Key players: QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is battling two separate injuries to his left calf suffered in the last two games of the regular season. But you’d have hardly known it just looking at his numbers in the playoff win against Dallas as he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, continuing what was one of the best seasons of his career as he tossed 38 touchdowns — third-most in a season in his career — and just five interceptions — lowest in any season as a starter.

RB Eddie Lacy: The second-year player from Alabama finished seventh in the NFL this season with 1,139 yards, finding his form in the second half of the season after a slow start — he rushed for 97 or more yards in six of Green Bay’s last seven games, including getting 101 in the playoff win over the Cowboys. Lacy is also a good receiver making 42 catches this season.

WR Jordy Nelson: The seventh-year pro out of Kansas State had his best season with 98 catches for 1,519 yards while also scoring 13 touchdowns. Seven of those were from 40 yards or longer, setting a new NFL record. Nelson had 83 yards on nine catches in the season opener but none went for longer than 16. Nelson was named to his first Pro Bowl this season.

LB Clay Matthews: Matthews was named to his fifth Pro Bowl this year after a season in which he made a subtle position shift that helped turn around Green Bay’s season. Matthews began the year playing primarily outside but moved to playing inside more on run downs after a week nine bye and the Packers improved markedly both against the run and in defending passes to running backs and tight ends. He finished the regular season with 61 tackles and 11 sacks.

Green Bay’s keys to the success: The Packers have had one of the most prolific and balanced offenses in the NFL this season, ranking first in points scored (30.3 per game) standing eighth in passing (266.3) and 11th in rushing (119.8). Green Bay scored 30 or more points eight times this year and was held under 20 just three times. The offense really started to take off after Eddie Lacy and the running game going after the first month of the season. After being held under 100 yards in five of the first eight games — a stretch in which the Packers went 5-3 — they rushed for 110 or more in each of the last eight in going 7-1. The run defense turned in a similar reversal as the Packers allowed an average of 153.5 rushing yards in the first eight games but just 86.7 in the last eight. Green Bay has also been one of the most opportunistic teams in the NFL, leading the league in turnover differential at plus-14, aided greatly by throwing just six interceptions — tied for the fewest in the NFL. Green Bay’s 13 turnovers were tied for the fewest in the NFL.

BY THE NUMBERS

30 — Years Green Bay has been in the playoffs, third behind the Giants and Dallas, which each have 31.

486 — Points scored by Green Bay this season, most in the NFL.

254 — Points allowed by Seattle, fewest in the NFL.

 

 

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