clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Packers-Seahawks Key Matchups: Jordy Nelson vs. Richard Sherman

New, comments

We break down another critical matchup in Sunday's game, as we expect to see a lot more of the Packers' top boundary receiver lineup against the Seahawks' top corner than we did in the season opener.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these two teams played, this matchup did not exist.

In the week one meeting between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy lined up wide receiver Jordy Nelson on the left side of the offense on essentially every play, with the expectation that the Seahawks would move All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman over to that side of the field to counter the Packers' best receiver. Instead, Seattle was content to leave Sherman on the other side one-on-one against Jarrett Boykin or Davante Adams, rolling safety help over to Nelson's side repeatedly instead.

This Sunday, expect a very different tactic from the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

While Nelson will likely be moved around to both sides of the offense, he should see plenty of snaps matched up against the corner with the most prolific interception numbers and the most prolific mouth in the NFL. How the Packers decide to use Nelson when he's guarded by Sherman should be a key factor in the Packers' ability to move the ball in the passing game.

Certainly, the matchups with Byron Maxwell on the other boundary receivers and Randall Cobb against Jeremy Lane in the slot will be ones to watch, but expect the Packers to take some shots with Nelson against Sherman.

It's not as if Nelson has put up his franchise-record-breaking numbers this season against a weak crop of corners, either; arguably his most memorable play of the year was on a deep slant route that burned Sherman's fellow All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis and ended up as a 45-yard touchdown. Sure, Nelson didn't have a huge game in terms of catches or yards in that win over New England (that honor went to Davante Adams), but if this game ends up being close in the late stages, don't be surprised if a play involving these two great competitors changes the complexion of the game.

Another facet to the Nelson-Sherman matchup involves the play-action pass, one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite ways to get the ball to #87 deep down the field. The success of those "shot" plays relies on two factors: the running game being effective enough to keep the Seahawks' safeties creeping up towards the line of scrimmage and Nelson's ability to get separation from the cornerback covering him. That second part will certainly be put to the test when #87 is lined up wide on the right side of the formation.

How much will Jordy really be lined up opposite Sherman on Sunday? We'll have to just watch and find out, but you can bet that it will be a lot more than "never", and there's a good chance that a couple of passes thrown in that direction could end up being some of the most critical plays in the game.