Rodgers' Injury Gives Wilson & Seahawks Edge in QB Matchup

Kevin Stott

Friday, January 16, 2015 8:02 PM GMT

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers are two of the NFL’s premiere signal callers and on Sunday, the two meet in the NFC Championship game in Seattle. Is there a bet here?

Aaron Rodgers Health is Going in the Big Difference Here in Emerald City
Like in the Sunday’s second game, the AFC Championship, this meeting between veteran Aaron Rodgers and youngster Russell Wilson is a meeting between two of the best in the business and two players neither team could do without. The good thing for the University of Wisconsin product Wilson? He doesn’t have to go up against his own team’s defense.

On Sunday when these two stars get together at possibly rainy CenturyLink Field in the NFC Championship game (FOX, 3:05 p.m. ET/12:05 p.m. PT) to settle things with the winner getting to advance to next month’s Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Heading into this massive game, in which odds makers have the host Seahawks as 7-point favorites on the NFL odds and the Total now (Thursday morning) set at 46½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), the big differences in Rodgers and Wilson are quite evident. University of California product Rodgers is a veteran (10th season) who isn’t very mobile right now with his calf injury and comes into this game well less than 100% (Rodgers participated in limited practice on Wednesday for Green Bay). Wilson is a youngster who is known for his mobility and who is perfectly healthy for Sunday’s first game of the day.

Let’s look at some of the key matchups between Rodgers and Wilson and determine if there is enough of an edge to back either the Packers or the Seahawks with a straight bet on a side in the game.


Physical, Running Ability
Thirty-one-year old Rodgers stands 6-foot-2-inches tall and weighs 225 pounds. Wilson, 26, is in his third year in the NFL—like Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck—and the Seahawks QB is 5-foot-11, 206 pounds. Rodgers has a better overall in terms of both strength and accuracy compared to the former baseball player Wilson, but then again Rodgers has a better arm than most signal callers in the league. But with his calf injury and the way he looked the last two games, limping and needed massive attention from the Packers training staff and potentially pain killing shots, Rodgers is just not close to himself and this is the wrong game in the wrong place against the wrong team to go into limping. Wilson’s forte is running and scrambling and making things happen with his speed (4.55 40-yard dash) and mobility and with Rodgers (4.71) leg problem, the advantage is with Seattle in this category. Edge: Wilson


Overall Experience
Like the New England Patriots Tom Brady over Indianapolis Colts third-year man Andrew Luck in the AFC Championship game, Rodgers has the obvious advantage in overall experience and the Packers QB has led his team to a win in Super Bowl XLV, in a game where he was named MVP. Granted, Wilson has a lot of valuable experience for a man in just his third season playing professional football and successfully led his Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl season, stamping his mark on the Modern Game, but Rodgers is Rodgers and while he was playing in his first season in the NFL (2005), Wilson was still just a junior in high school back in Virginia (Collegiate School). Edge: Rodgers


Under Pressure
Rodgers is pretty good making last-second decision, but with the bum calf, his potential, his to get away from pressure as well as scramble out of the pocket and run up-field for yards is just not there. Wilson can avoid the pressure and create room to connect to passes on broken plays or run for first downs and terrorize defenses as he has done for three years. Wilson is a the new and unique type of QB people thought Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick could be. But the 26-year-old Wilson has much work to to grow in his position as has a Total 48.9 QBR on third down this season and ranked 22 of 33 qualifying QBs. Still, he gets the nod because when one is under pressure, it helps to be faster and healthier than the defenders chasing after you. Edge: Wilson


Statistics, QBR
Wilson’s aforementioned amazing ability to run the football (118 rushes, 848 yards, 6 TDs, 7.2 ypc) combined with his underappreciated Passing game (285/452, 3,475 yards, 20 TDs, 63.1% completions, 7.7 yards per pass) makes it almost impossible not to give him the edge in this category right now over Rodgers (341/520, 4,381 yards, 38 TDs, 65.6%, 8.43 yards per pass). But Seattle is still an anemic 27th in the league in passing (203.1 ypg) whereas Green Bay ranks #8 (266.3 ypg) and if The Pass is one of the arrows in the quiver we’re evaluating offensively, than the Packers and Rodgers get the edge because they have that arrow and will always be able to rally should they get down...unless Rodgers ends up watching from the sidelines. Slight Edge: Rodgers


OL
Both QBs teams have underappreciated OLs blocking in front of them and the starting five on the depth chart right now for both teams is very even in terms of size and NFL experience. Although it doesn’t tip the scales toward Seattle in this category, last week’s return of starting C Max Unger was worth its weight in gold to the defending Super Bowl champs. Green Bay will have LT David Bakhtiari (6-4, 310), LG Josh Sitton (6-3, 318), rookie C Corey Linsley (6-3, 301), RG TJ Lang (6-4, 318) and talented RG Bryan Bulaga (6-5, 314) protecting Rodgers in the Emerald City on Sunday afternoon while LT Russell Okung (6-5, 310), LG James Carpenter (6-5, 321), stud C Unger (6-5, 305), RG JR Sweezy (6-5, 299) and rookie RT Jason Britt (6-6, 325) in front of Wilson. That Seattle OL along with RB Marshawn Lynch (Anytime TD Scorer -162, bet365) and Wilson’s rushing ability to give the hosts the #1 Rushing game (172.6 ypg) in the NFL but in the context of the values of the OLs to these two QBs and the betting odds in this big game, they are fairly even heading in because of Unger’s valuable return. Edge: None


Head-to-Head
Wilson has only been in the league three years and he has played Green Bay and Rodgers twice, with his Seahawks covering the 3-point spread and winning outright as underdogs, 14-12 in that memorable Monday Night Football freakshow in Seattle in 2012. The two also met in Week 1 of this season, also at CenturyLink, with Seattle rolling to a 36-16 victory as 4½-point favorites. So, two SU wins—even if one was controversial—and 2-0 ATS for Wilson head-to-head against Rodgers. Edge: Wilson


The Hot Factor
Wilson is 5-0-1 ATS in his L6 playoff games, while Rodgers has frightened his teammates and Cheeseheads worldwide by needing massive attention and probably drugs in the locker room at halftime. One can’t seemingly lose while the other is hobbled. It’s hard to be “hot” when you’re injured, no matter how many times you rally the troops like George Washington did at Valley Forge. And, as team, the Seahawks are white hot, having won 7 straight and going 6-0-1 or 7-0-0 ATS (depending on what closing numbers one uses) and allowing a total of just 53 points (3, 3, 14, 7, 6, 6, 14) along the way. Welcome to the machine. Edge: Wilson


ATS Records
The Seahawks and the Packers both went 9-6-1 ATS in the regular season but Green Bay failed to cover the point spread in its home win over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend while Seattle both won and covered at home against the upstart Carolina Panthers—a team which plays the Seahawks very tough up to that point in low-scoring affairs. So, the champs might actually prefer playing the Packers to the Panthers. Wilson is 20-7-1 ATS Home in his career and 26-16-1 ATS as a favorite—a role Seattle was in all but one game this season (+1 at San Francisco 49ers)—while Rodgers is 27-22 Away and 11-10-1 ATS as an Underdog, a somewhat unfamiliar role for the NFC North’s Packers and The Old Gunslinger Rodgers. Noteworthy: Green Bay was 0-3 ATS this season as an underdog, losing all three games outright (Seahawks, Lions, Saints). That certainly does not bode well for the Packers here against Wilson who is 25-2 SU lifetime at home and that sparkling 5-0-1 ATS in his L6 playoff tilts. Edge: Wilson


Skill Position Weapons
Seattle shipped unhappy Percy Harvin to the New York Jets after he chirped too loudly so Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are Wilson’s two main WR threats. Rodgers has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, probably the best WR duo in the NFL, so big advantage to the Packers there. And Rodgers uses his RBs in pass patterns more so than does Wilson who has the luxury of having Lynch and the NFL’s top rushing attack at his disposal. At the TE position, Green Bay has Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers, while Seattle and Wilson have Luke Wilson and Cooper Helfet (and Zach Miller on the I-R), so big edge to Green Bay although with Lynch and Wilson’s ability to run so effectively, that perceived big edge is somewhat tarnished. Edge: Rodgers


Conclusion
In the end, Wilson gets the narrow edge in this one because of Rodgers’ health. But the Green bay QB has proven he can rally his team after being injured at halftime and he still threw for 9.0 yards per pass, 3 TDs with no interceptions against the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round and has 38 TDs and just 5 picks all year. But Wilson’s health and his elusiveness with those nimble feet combined with his ability to improvise and find players downfield on broken plays, especially in the second half of the season. In short, it’s always better to be younger and healthier. 


NFC Championship Pick: Seahawks -7 at 5Dimes

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