STAR PREVIEW Sun: Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks

ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.


A few days ago this was shaping up into a Jordan Love versus Geno Smith farrago at quarterback but how quickly events change and now we have Aaron Rodgers facing off against Russell Wilson. The former returns from his Covid-19 fiasco and the latter from finger surgery than has healed quicker than was first thought it would or could.

Of course both are in the upper echelons of NFL quarterbacks, after all Rodgers is the reigning NFL-MVP and Wilson was in the running for that prize for much of last season. But and it is a but how will the layoffs that both have suffered affect their performance and that of the team? Rodgers in particular won’t have practiced at all (he was only cleared to play on Saturday) and Wilson has just got the pins removed from his right (throwing) middle finger. There’s no doubt though that both sides are better off with these two calling the shots on offence.

Seattle already in a tough division are at the moment 3-5 and well off the pace in the NFC West having stopped the bleeding of three straight losses by defeating the moribund Jaguars 31-7 prior to their bye week.

With Chris Carson ruled out again with a neck injury the Seahawks ground game looks to be one of those where they may just to ride the hot hand but knowing whose digits will be the warmest out of the quartet that they could employ in Alex Collins, Travis Homer, Rashaad Penny, and DeeJay Dallas leaves anything to do with the run game a definite non-starter. If Wilson has healed sufficiently then his two main targets wide receivers D.K.

Metcalf and Tyler Lockett could be in for plenty of work although that will come against a Packers defence that has certainly stepped up a gear or two of late. Green Bay still lack the talents of top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander but if they can keep Lockett and Metcalf under control it’s hard to see many other pieces of the Seahawks offence being a threat.

With Rodgers returning the Packers offence should once again start to look an efficient machine even if Rodgers hasn’t had much practice time this week his original chemistry with his wide receivers in Davante Adams and Randall Cobb should hold true. Adams is without doubt one of the best receivers in the game and facing a Seattle defence that concedes an average of 401.5 yards per game, if Rodgers is on song than they could be in for a long afternoon. Cobb could also cause some damage with his crossing routes particularly useful against a weak Seahawks secondary. Seattle also have a weak pass rush and I suspect that Rodgers will for the most part have a clean pocket to throw from as the Seahawks rank bottom three in sack rate (4%) and bottom five in QB Hit Rate (12.8%).

Even if Rodgers is a little “off” he has a good ground game to rely on which the Packers have been developing this season via Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. The latter in particular has made very effective strides this year and appears to be getting more and more involved on the offence although he only has one touchdown to his name so far this season. Jones is always a threat, an elusive runner he’s also a safety valve out of the backfield for Rodgers on passing downs.

One thing to note about this game and that’s the tempo that it could be played at and even with the return of Rodgers and Wilson this isn’t one that looks to be a real pace war. Green Bay remains unwilling to play at anything but a geriatric pace — which was the league’s slowest even with Rodgers. Seahawks games rank bottom 12 in average combined plays and Packers contests produce a league low. Both are bottom eight in average total points.

A case can be made for either side although Green Bay are 3-0 ATS at home this year and 4-0 ATS against teams with losing records. Seattle have had so far a schedule that has been the second toughest in the NFL, a visit to Lambeau doesn’t make things any easier where the Packers with Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur have gone 17-2 at home in the regular season. With both Rodgers and Wilson on the comeback trail and the expected slow pace of the game I’m happy to take the under 50.5 mark here in what I expect will be a narrow Packers win.

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PROFIT/LOSS (NOVEMBER 2021): LOSS -10.16 points
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