BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 01/17/2015

Odds long for Packers’ win, but it’s been done

The Seahawks (13-4) are a touchdown favorite over the Green Bay Packers, but nine teams have surmounted long odds on the road to advance to the Super Bowl.

Aaron Rodgers is ailing with a calf injury, but the Seahawks will play him as if he’s completely healthy. / Wiki Commons

Las Vegas established the Seahawks as 7-to-7½-point favorites to defeat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Sunday in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. It’s obvious why. Since 2012, the Seahawks have won 25 of 27 regular-season and home playoff games by an average margin of 15.4 points. No team is close to that kind of dominance.

Also, the Packers lost their last two at CenturyLink, including a 36-16 decision Sept. 4, and went 4-4 on the road this season. That’s not the worst of it. Green Bay is 12-12 in its past 24 regular-season and road contests, 12-13 if a playoff loss at San Francisco last year is counted.

More telling: Green Bay went 0-3 on the road this season against home teams that finished with a winning record, as Seattle did (12-4), and is 0-5 in such contests the past two years and 0-7 dating to 2012.

In addition to factoring in Rodgers’ calf injury, oddsmakers noted that the Green Bay quarterback has thrown only 11 interceptions in the past two regular seasons — but all came in road games.

With all that, plus the fact that home favorites almost always prevail in conference championship games, the defending Super Bowl champions can take nothing for granted.

Since 1970-71, 25 teams (15 in the NFC, 10 in the AFC) have won conference championships as the road underdog, as Green Bay will be Sunday.

The last time this happened in the NFC was Jan. 22, 2012, when the New York Giants, a two-point underdog, won at San Francisco 20-17 in overtime. In the AFC, it last happened two years ago when Baltimore, an eight-point ‘dog, won at New England 28-13.

On nine occasions, four times in the NFC and five in the AFC, a home team favored by six or more points failed to reach the Super Bowl. Those teams:

Year Date Game Fav. Win Skinny
1999 1/17 Atl @ Minn Minn +10 Atl 30-27 Chris Chandler 3 TD passes
2002 1/27 NE @ Pitt Pitt +10 NE 24-17 2 TDs on blocked kick returns
1995 1/15 SD @ Pitt Pitt +9 SD 17-13 Stan Humphries 2 TD passes
1991 1/20 NYG @ SF SF +8 NY 15-13 Matt Bahr 5 field goals
2008 1/20 NYG @GB GB +8 NY 23-20 Lawrence Tynes 3 field goals
2013 1/20 Bal @ NE NE +8 Bal 28-13 Joe Flacco 3 TD passes
2000 1/23 Ten @ Jax Jax +7 Ten 33-14 Steve McNair 2 rush TDs
1976 1/4 Dal @ Rams Rams +6 Dal 37-7 Roger Staubach 2 TD passes
2000 1/14 Bal @ Oak Oak +6 Bal 16-3 Matt Stover 3 field goals

If Green Bay is to become the 10th team to overcome a pre-game dis of six or more points, Rodgers will need to have the kind of game that he had against Dallas in the divisional round, when he threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns despite the calf injury.

The Seahawks have prepared as if Rodgers will enter the game completely healthy.

“We’re going to assume that he’s at his best and able to do all the things that he does,” said Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

“Even when he didn’t move out of the pocket (against Dallas), you could see how effective he is,” Quinn added. “It’s a blast to play against them. We have a lot of respect for their staff and the way they play. They make you go through the whole process, and so it’s a great challenge, one that we’re really looking forward to.”


  • just passing thru

    hey Steve – good stuff. I do wonder what you meant by this (specific to the Seahawks): “Green Bay went 0-3 on the road this season against home teams that finished with a winning record, as Seattle did (12-4)…”

    Seattle was 5-3 on the road, with 2 victories against teams with winning records, 1 win against an 8-8 team, 2 losses against teams with winning records, and that “Oh my, is this season going to be a train wreck?” loss to the Rams.

  • jafabian

    IIRC, the Packers have a losing record when they aren’t favored. They dug down deep to win against the Cowboys. Conventional wisdom says that can’t be done again but you never know. I’m hoping it rains Visiting teams hate playing in the rain.

    • Topcatone

      Heavy rain, wind looking pretty likely now. That will certainly affect the passing games. The critical thing for the Seahawks is to really put on a hard pass rush on Rodgers. He is terrific at throwing deep, and deep coverage is a Seahawks weakness. We can’t give him time to throw deep. With his scrambling somewhat hampered, we have to hurry his throws. Although GB is greatly improved, so are the Hawks, as they finally have everyone pretty healthy, only missing TE Luke Wilson (that said, with the loss of Tate, he is a very important piece). So, watch the first couple of GB possessions. If we don’t bring it with the pass rush, GB will have a great chance for an upset.

  • ll9956

    Good article, Steve. Despite the statistics I’m still worried. The Packers are a strong team on both sides of the ball. I consider Rodgers’ injury to be all but meaningless. Look at his numbers against Dallas, which is no pushover. The Hawks need to minimize, if not eliminate, penalties and, especially, turnovers.

    Go Hawks!

  • dinglenuts

    “Green Bay is 12-12 in its past 24 regular-season and road contests, 12-13 if a playoff loss at San Francisco last year is counted.”

    If I remember correctly, the playoff loss last year was in Green Bay. It was really, really cold.