By Matthew Asher
Now that Seattle has secured the best seed in the NFC and a week off before the divisional round, the question is: who would be the ideal matchup for the Seahawks?
As the top seed in the NFC, they will face the lowest remaining seed from the wild card round. Sixth seed New Orleans travels north to face the third seed Philadelphia Eagles while the fourth seed Green Bay Packers host the fifth seed San Francisco 49ers. This assures us that the Philadelphia Eagles will not face Seattle at least until the conference championship.
But between the Saints, 49ers and Packers, which team should be the easiest and which team might pose the biggest problems? Seattle has faced both the 49ers and Saints this season, each with some success, but not total domination.
New Orleans Saints
When New Orleans and Seattle meet in Week 13, it was supposed to be a battle of the NFC’s elite teams. Seattle manhandled the Saints 34-7. And yes, the score was indicative of the stats by both teams. Drew Brees didn’t even throw for 150 yards but Russell Wilson eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark. As a team, New Orleans ran for 44 total yards while Seattle had two separate players run for more than the Saints combined. As a team, Seattle finished with 127 yards on the ground.
San Francisco 49ers
The two contests Seattle has had with San Francisco have been split with the home team winning each game. The first matchup was Week Two at CenturyLink Field. Just like the New Orleans game, this was supposed to feature two of the best NFC teams and Seattle dominated the 49ers 29-3.
The rematch wouldn’t exactly go the same way. In San Francisco, the 49ers narrowly defeated the ‘Hawks 19-17. Neither quarterback had a good game as both were limited to fewer than 200 passing yards. Frank Gore was the only 49er who had an outstanding game as he ran for 110 yards. This one wouldn’t be decided until the final minute of the game. While Seattle showed they can stay with San Francisco, losing a close game doesn’t really help out a team’s confidence.
Green Bay Packers
That leaves the Green Bay Packers. They’re the definition of a wild card because with Aaron Rodgers just making a return to the lineup last week, it’s unclear how his body will be able to handle playing in consecutive weeks again. He was able to win in Week 17 against the rival Chicago Bears, but he hasn’t played enough games lately to know what he’ll be able to do during the post season.
If it turns out that Rodgers suffers no ill-effects of the collarbone injury, then the Packers are the one team Seattle wants to avoid because Rodgers will be a very fresh quarterback taking on defenses that have played an entire season already.
Regardless of who Seattle ends up facing in two weeks, the games between the other four teams should provide the answer at least to which would be the most entertaining game.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.