NFL premium

Thursday Night Football: An NFC Showdown to Stay in the Playoff Hunt

Two weeks in a row, and what appears on paper to be two tasty treats of football games in back-to-back weeks. While neither the Seattle Seahawks (4-5) or the Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) currently sit above .500, we both have them as pretty strong teams.

Per our power rankings, the Seahawks rank 9th and the Packers rank 12th. The Packers are coming off a Week 10 win, while the Seahawks lost a nail-biter to the Los Angeles Rams.

So, who will come out on top and maintain their path to a playoff spot? Let's dig in and find out.

Quarterback Breakdown

Two elite quarterbacks square off in this matchup, but 2018 hasn't gone so hot for them.

Fantasy's QB1 in 2017, Russell Wilson hasn't been quite so strong this year. In reviewing the 33 quarterbacks with 150 or more drop backs this year, Wilson has been solid p;eeking at Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, he checks in 11th with a mark of 0.17. In terms of Passing Success Rate, or the percentage of drop backs resulting in positive NEP, Wilson has fared far worse, clocking in 18th (48.19%).

In looking at Aaron Rodgers, fantasy's QB1 in 2016, he's performed even poorer, ranking 15th in Passing NEP per drop back (0.14) and 22nd in Passing Success Rate (46.32%).

Both signal-callers seem have been solid in pushing the ball downfield. In terms of Average Intended Air Yards (IAY), which measures the average Air Yards a passer throws on all attempts, Wilson has posted an 8.9 IAY mark, while Rodgers is only at a clip of 8.5 IAY.

From a fantasy perspective this season, both quarterbacks are clearly not performing as well as they have in recent years, as seen from their point-per-game and FanDuel-point-per game marks.

Player Passing NEP per Drop Back Rank Fantasy PPG Rank FanDuel PPG Rank
Russell Wilson 0.17 11 18.9 15 19.4 15
Aaron Rodgers 0.14 15 20.7 10 20.8 10

In terms of situation-neutral pace, neither team is moving the fastest. The Packers clock in 17th (30.91 seconds), while the Seahawks rank 27th (32.09).

With both teams getting pretty average play from their big-name QBs, does anyone have a decided edge at the running back spot?

Running Back Play

2018 has been a very volatile one for both of these teams from a running game perspective, so let's start with the Packers, whose situation seem a little more clear cut.

The hyper-efficient Aaron Jones seems to have grabbed the lead down duties, as he rushed 15 times for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns in a Week 10 win. Among the 53 running backs with 50 or more carries in 2018, Jones leads all running backs in Rushing NEP per rush with a mark of 0.26, despite coach Mike McCarthy only giving Jones 73 carries this season. In terms of Rushing Success Rate, Jones also leads the same group of runners at 57.53%.

The Seattle situation is a little less clear. Chris Carson appears to be returning for this tilt, but he missed last week's contest with a hip injury. In his absence, Mike Davis was assumed to be the lead back, but he was actually out-rushed by rookie Rashaad Penny 12 to 11. So far this season, Carson leads the team with 111 rushes, but Davis leads the team in running back receptions. Here's how all three stack up:

Name Rushes Yards Yds/Att Rush NEP per Rush Rank Rush Success Rate % Rank
Chris Carson 111 497 4.48 0.00 30 39.64% 34
Mike Davis 78 346 4.44 0.11 8 50.00% 4
Rashaad Penny 54 254 4.70 0.00 29 35.19% 39

Both teams appear to have solid running games ready to go, but will these defenses be prepared to stop them?

Defensive Matchup

In looking at numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, this is a tale of two very different defenses, as Seattle checks in 9th while Green Bay sits in the bottom of the group, clocking in 21st.

Digging deeper into the 'Hawks, they've been really good against both the run and the pass, ranking eighth in both categories. Green Bay has been okay against the pass, ranking 17th, but they have been shredded on the ground, ranking 26th.

One bright spot this season for the Packers has been getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. In terms of Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate, which measures sacks plus intentional grounding penalties, Green Bay leads the NFL with a mark of 9.6% and 31 sacks, while Seattle has struggled, ranking 20th (7.0%). Kenny Clark and Kyler Fackrell lead the way for the Packers with five sacks each.

While Seattle ranks highly per our metrics, they have espoused a bend-but-don't-break attitude, as they rank 22nd in yards allowed per drive (34.56), while Green Bay ranks slightly better at 13th (31.16). Seattle has shined in forcing turnovers, ranking seventh (16). Green Bay has lagged behind, forcing only 11 (six interceptions, five fumbles).

So, slight advantage to Seattle on the defensive side.

To read all premium content, upgrade to a Premium account with numberFire

If you're not a Premium subscriber, it takes just a few seconds to sign up. You'll get access to all of our insider information, game projections, handicapping advice, DFS tools, advanced statistics, and more.

Log In Go Premium