Another Seahawks playoff run falls short of expectations

Mon Jan 13 7:45pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

Green Bay Packers' Preston Smith sacks Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)


Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson walks off the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)


Seattle Seahawks' Shaquem Griffin and Shaquill Griffin embrace after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch sits on the bench during the second half an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)


Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks off the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)


RENTON, Wash. (AP) It’s been six years since Russell Wilson raised the Super Bowl trophy. Five years since his fateful pass from the 1-yard line.

While he’s become one of the top quarterbacks in the time since Wilson was last in the Super Bowl, the gap without a championship game appearance is becoming more noticeable and tougher for the highest-paid player in the NFL to accept.

Some may say because of having a youthful roster as part of an overhaul that started two years ago, and a long debilitating list of injuries that the Seahawks overachieved by winning 12 games. They were inches from winning a division title and maybe a dropped pass away from rallying to beat Green Bay in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs before falling 28-23 to the Packers.

But at age 31 and having completed his eighth season, Wilson doesn’t see it that way.

“I think we underachieved in my opinion because I think the goal should be always winning the Super Bowl. That’s got to be our standard. That’s got to be our focus,” Wilson said on Monday.

“The reality is we’ve been really, really good the past eight years or so, and to go to the playoffs seven of the eight, and to do all those things are special, special things, to go to two Super Bowls, to win one. We’ve got to capture that through the whole entire season going into next year. We’ve got to find ways to get better. We’ve got to find ways just to get past the first and second round of the playoffs.”

Seattle was a flawed team that managed to be exceptionally good in close games and when playing away from home. Eleven of Seattle’s 12 wins were by one score or less. Their regular-season point differential was plus-7. They won eight games outside of Seattle and just four at home. Their defense ranked in the bottom third of the league in points allowed, pass yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and total yards for the regular season.

It was a very un-Seattle like team that did what has become the standard under Pete Carroll and made the playoffs yet again. But for the fourth time in Carroll’s tenure, Seattle’s journey ended in the divisional round.

“I really regret this thing is over,” Carroll said. “I love this team and loved the way they played and loved what they stood for and the character they demonstrated over and over again.”

ANSWERS UP FRONT

Seattle’s biggest questions going forward such as on the defensive line where Jadeveon Clowney, Jarran Reed, Ziggy Ansah, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods are all unrestricted free agents. The results from the group were mixed at best. Clowney was a star that flashed in some of Seattle’s biggest games despite playing the second half of the season with a painful core muscle injury. Reed was suspended the first six games and never came close to matching his production from a year ago. Ansah played with injuries all season and mostly underachieved. Jefferson was Seattle’s best overall lineman not named Clowney, and Woods was serviceable as a run stopper before being suspended four games late in the season.

Even if none of the five return, the defensive front has to be a heavy focus of Seattle’s offseason.

GET HEALTHY

Consider a few of the starters and key contributors Seattle played without against Green Bay: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Justin Britt, Will Dissly and Mychal Kendricks. Duane Brown played less than three weeks after knee surgery. Marshawn Lynch, three weeks out of retirement, started against the Packers. Phil Haynes was forced into the first extensive action of his career in the second half versus Green Bay. Bobby Wagner said Monday he’ll need some offseason work done to clean up injuries that were discovered to be worse than originally thought.

Injuries became a major part of Seattle’s story this season.

“We couldn’t stay healthy and it was a big deal,” Carroll said. “We were going so well late into the year ... we had six guys on the inactives that were healthy and then all of a sudden it just shifted.”

GET OUT OF THE BLOCKS

For whatever reason, Seattle has played terrible in the first half of three of its divisional road games in Carroll’s tenure. In the 2012 playoffs at Atlanta, Seattle fell behind 20-0 at halftime, rallied to take the lead, but lost 30-28. In 2015 at Carolina, Seattle fell behind 31-0 before a late rally fell short in a 31-24 loss. And on Sunday, the Seahawks were down 21-3 at halftime to Green Bay.

Seattle has played five total divisional round playoff games on the road under Carroll. It has been outscored 112-13 combined in the first half of those five games.

HOW TO GET IT RIGHT?

Seattle clearly needs some changes on defense. Carroll likened this season to 2012 and it was the following offseason that Seattle went out and landed pass rushers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in free agency. A similar haul is needed again to solve the Seahawks biggest defensive issue. The other area to watch will be how Seattle approaches its offensive line. Germain Ifedi, George Fant and Mike Iupati are all free agents. Duane Brown will turn 35 before the start of next season. Britt is coming off an ACL injury. Making sure the line of scrimmage is addressed appropriately on both sides of the ball will be the key whether Seattle can make a similar jump as it did from 2012 to 2013 when it went from a divisional round playoff loss to Super Bowl champs.

“Guys need to go into the offseason with a chip on their shoulder. They have to make sure they feel that loss. Don’t just throw it away, really feel that loss the whole offseason and how close we could have been,” Wagner said.

Player Notes
Green Bay Packers Jan 17 5:20pm ET

The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Jan 17 3:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Jan 17 2:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

From RotoBaller

Allen Lazard Jan 17 2:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Jan 17 1:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Jan 17 1:30pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Jan 17 1:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Jan 17 1:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Jan 17 12:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Jan 17 12:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Jan 17 12:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.

From RotoBaller

Kendrick Bourne Jan 17 12:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Jan 17 11:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Jan 17 11:30am ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Jan 17 1:13am ET

Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Callaway Jan 16 6:33pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.

From TheHuddle

Morris Claiborne Jan 16 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Marcedes Lewis Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Travis Kelce Jan 16 5:33pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.

Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.

From TheHuddle