Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers – Sunday, January 12, 2020, 6:40 p.m. EST
Over the past year, PFN has been introducing the football community to the Offensive Share Metric (OSM) – a unique way to assess skill positions as it relates to contributions made during each play. Last week, we used OSM to predict the AFC and NFC Wild Card games. Though the scoreboard results differed in all but one game, OSM was very telling in what we could expect during the game. So, let’s dive back into OSM and some NFL Next Gen Stats to provide a different vantage point for how this week’s NFC Divisional round playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers will play out.
In this non-divisional rivalry, expect to see a lot of Russell Wilson with an average OSM of 31.0. He’s been in the top 5 of OSM eight times this season, including the top-ranked quarterback in last week’s Wild Card win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Green Bay’s passing defense has been great this year, only allowing a top 10 quarterback twice (Dak Prescott in Week 5 and Derek Carr in Week 7). They’re allowing less than a 60% completion rate on average. Luckily, for Wilson, he’s only fell short of that mark in three games this year.
The Packers are 7-1 when keeping opposing quarterbacks under their average OSM of 23.4. Wilson has had an OSM higher than 23.4 in all but two games this season and is expected to come in higher than that in this game as well. If Green Bay wants to stop Wilson, they’ll have to force him to be more aggressive with his throws. In the few games where his OSM fell below 23.4, he was 44% more aggressive and it affected him across the board. His average intended air yards dropped by 24%. His average completed air yards were cut by more than half, from 7.6 to 3.4. His completion rate fell from 67.0% to 61.1% and his average yards per game dropped as well, from 269 to 201.
On the Packers side of the field, Aaron Rodgers has had an atypical year, finishing the regular season with an overall OSM of 19.6 which ranks him 31st in the league. He likely will score low again this week, as the Seattle Seahawks are allowing an average OSM of just 17.8 to opposing quarterbacks. They’ve only allowed an OSM over the league average on six occasions and have kept four quarterbacks under an OSM of 10.0.
If Rodgers wants to be a factor in this game, he’ll have to throw more downfield. When his OSM has been higher than 17.8, his average intended air yards were two yards more – 9.6 compared to 7.6. This helped his completed air yards too, more than doubling from 3.4 on average to 7.0. The Seahawks have only won once this season when allowing more than an average nine intended air yards or seven completed air yards.
Seattle’s running backs are averaging a higher OSM than Green Bay’s at 15.1 vs 12.2. However, they’ve only had a featured back carry the ball 20+ times since Week 10. When running backs have 20+ carries against the Packers, their OSM jumps from an average of 11.2 to 14.2. The lack of attempts puts more pressure on Wilson. The Seahawks went 7-1 during the regular season when they had a running back carry more than 20 times, and went 4-4 without.
The Packers should have an easier time running the ball on Sunday. They had a below-average OSM of 12.2 for the year but are up against the second-worst run defense in the playoffs. The Seahawks have given up an average OSM of 18.0. To put that into perspective, only 10 of 48 running backs in the NFL that qualified overall for the season have obtained an OSM higher than that, with Derrick Henry leading the way at 21.3.
For Aaron Jones to be effective, look for him to get a lot of touches and be as efficient of a downhill runner as possible. He’s hit the 100-yard mark in every game that he’s had more than 15 carries. He’s a more efficient runner when he gets more than 15 carries too, improving from 5.9 to 3.5 yards run to gain 1 yard from scrimmage. His average yards per carry also increases by roughly 65%, from 3.6 to 5.9. Not to mention, his OSM increases from an average of 7.9 to 18.0.
The Packers receivers should have an easier game than the Seahawks. Both have an average receiving corps, with Green Bay averaging an OSM of 32.4 compared to an average OSM of 33.8 for Seattle. However, Seattle’s defense is allowing an OSM of 33.6 while Green Bay is allowing just 27.8, which ranks second-best in the league.
Davante Adams will get most of the targets for the Packers. He’s been averaging over 11 targets when qualifying for OSM and gaining more than 90 yards per game with an average 4.8 yards after catch. However, expect Rodgers to spread the wealth since the Seahawks are undefeated when allowing a receiver to be targeted 11 or more times.
The Packers’ wide receivers have proven to be reliable in the past. Geronimo Allison had the top OSM for a wide receiver in Week 7, followed by the 2nd highest OSM in Week 8 for Allen Lazard. Collectively, they’ve been targeted five or more times in just eight games this season but expect at least one of them to get that this week.
Jimmy Graham is the 10th best tight end in the league this year per OSM. Expect him to have a part in this one, as the Seahawks have allowed a tight end to fall into the top 10 on ten occasions. However, his value is still uncertain. The main reason the Seahawks have allowed tight ends to succeed is due to an average 74.2% completion rate. Graham’s best game to date was in Week 4 when he completed 6 of 9 targets. Other than that, he has yet to obtain a completion rate higher than 60% in games where he was targeted at least five times.
While Jacob Hollister has filled in nicely for Will Dissly, his overall OSM of 37.2 ranks him 13th among tight ends, three spots under Jimmy Graham. His separation is just slightly above average at 3.4 yards while his yards after catch are just below average at 3.5 yards. If he can increase yards after catch to 4.0 or more, Seattle may get some needed help.
When allowing a tight end to get 4.0 or more yards after the catch, they’re averaging 97 receiving yards on eight targets against Green Bay. When it’s less than 4.0, Green Bay has allowed an average of 57 yards to tight ends, even though the average number of targets (eight) are the same. A lot of that has to do with a tight end’s ability to get separation. When giving up 4.0 yards after the catch, Green Bay has allowed 3.6 yards of separation, as opposed to just 2.2 yards of separation when less than 4.0 yards after the catch.
Green Bay’s defense is even tougher on wide receivers. They’ve only allowed a top 10 wide receiver once (Amari Cooper in Week 5). Luckily, for Seattle, they’ve had a wide receiver crack the top 10 seven times during the regular season. In those games, either Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf have averaged 3.5 yards of separation, enabling them to catch the ball 91.2% of the time. In all other games, the Seahawks’ wide receivers have averaged just 2.6 yards of separation and an average catch rate of 55.6%.
The Packers have only given up 3.5 yards of separation to 16% of opposing wide receivers per OSM. The average catch rate allowed is the second-lowest in the league, behind the New England Patriots, at 53.3%. When giving up 3.5 yards of separation, the catch rate increases only slightly to 57.1%. Expect the Packers to shut down the dual-threat of Lockett and Metcalf, again putting the onus on Wilson if the Seahawks want to have a chance to move on in the NFL playoffs.
Look for Wilson to carry most of the weight in this game and don’t be surprised if the Seahawks own the time of possession as he extends drives with his legs. Offensively, the Seahawks have more weapons but OSM predicts they’ll struggle against the Packers defense. And, although Seattle should end up with a higher expected average OSM of 23.9, compared to 22.2 for Green Bay, most of the variance will be due to Wilson’s play. Adjusting for points per OSM, expect the Packers to beat the Seahawks and continue their run in the NFL playoffs and they will be heading to the NFC Championship by the end of the night. However, I think this will be a closer contest than the score would suggest and I wouldn’t be shocked if Wilson has yet another trick up his sleeve.
Pick: Green Bay Packers 34, Seattle Seahawks 20
Be sure to check out the PFN Betting Crew’s picks for the game as well.