If you want someone to preview the NFC Championship between Seattle and Green Bay, who better to ask than someone who faced both teams this season?
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Carolina safety Roman Harper to CBS Sports Radio. Harper’s Panthers lost at Green Bay, 38-17, on Oct. 19, and they lost at home to Seattle, 13-9, just seven days later.
They also lost at Seattle, 31-17, last weekend in the playoffs.
So, what can we expect when these two teams square off this Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET?
“It all depends on how healthy Aaron Rodgers is,” Harper said on Gio and Jones. “I think he has to be healthy. He has to be able to move around. That’s part of his game, especially with Seattle’s defensive line and the way they match up with that offensive line. Aaron Rodgers has to be healthy. He’s going to play. He’s going to be amazing. But with him being healthy, it makes it such a different dynamic because now you got Eddie Lacy running the ball.”
Rodgers was so-so in the first half against Dallas last Sunday, as the Packers trailed 14-10 at the break. The second half, however, was a different story. Rodgers led three scoring drives, including a pair of touchdown drives combining for 15 plays and 170 yards.
Rodgers finished 24-of-35 for 316 yards and three touchdowns, while Lacy ran 19 times for 101 yards (5.3 yards per carry).
“I think they’re playing better,” Harper said. “They got to be able to do some things with Randall Cobb in the slot.
Seattle, meanwhile, will rely on Russell Willson, who, like Rodgers, threw three touchdowns last weekend in a win over Carolina.
“Russell Wilson, he’s going to be him,” Harper said. “(Like) Stuart Scott – rest in peace – he’s going to be as cool as the other side of the pillow. He always is. He’s going to always have the guys set up and put them in great position. They got to be able to run the ball. They can’t allow Russell to sit back and throw it 35, 40 times. That’s not their formula of winning. And Green Bay can’t turn the ball over. Whoever handles those things is going to win the game.”
Harper was also asked to rate Seattle’s receivers, who never seem to get publicity or recognition for the Seahawks’ success. To be fair, it’s a pretty anonymous group – no Seattle pass-catcher had more than four catches last weekend, and only one, Doug Baldwin, had even 40 catches all season – but they get the job done.
“I think they’re tremendous,” Harper said. “They get it done. (Jermaine) Kearse pretty much beat us. They’re winning. You can’t be mad. Baldwin, we got a couple Stanford guys out there. They’re making plays, and you can’t be mad. All they’re doing is winning. They understand their role, they don’t get outside themselves and they just do exactly what they’re told. They’re in the exact area where Russell (wants them to be) and they’re completing passes and they’re making big plays.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much kudos you get,” Harper continued. “The best receivers – you look at somebody like Dez Bryant. He’s at home right now. He would give anything to be where these guys are at.”