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:
|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.”