Aaron Rodgers won't cover his ears plus other Packers tidbits


SEATTLE -- Here are some odds and ends to wrap up the week before the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at CenturyLink Field in the NFC Championship Game:

  • Ear plugs: If you looked closely at quarterback Aaron Rodgers' helmet early in the Week 1 game at CenturyLink Field, perhaps the NFL's loudest stadium, you would have seen that the ear holes were covered with something yellow. Later the in the game, the ear holes were open. We finally got an explanation. "Sometimes [the equipment staffers] put some things in there to try and block out the noise but I never really felt like those worked very well," Rodgers said this week. "So, if they were in there, I'm sure I took them out as soon as I realized they were in there."

  • Comparing run games: In last Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers faced the NFL's second-ranked rushing offense. This Sunday, they face the No. 1 rushing team. But those two teams go about it differently. Running back DeMarco Murray accounted for 78.4 percent of the Cowboys' rushing offense, while quarterback Tony Romo (2.6 percent) was a non-factor in the running game. For Seattle, running back Marshawn Lynch accounted for a team-high 47.3 percent of the rushing yards, but quarterback Russell Wilson had 30.7 percent of the team's rushing yardage during the regular season. "Against the Cowboys, their quarterback is not going to come out there and carry the ball like Russell Wilson," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He's a threat with the ball in his hands. He can make the big play at any time. One of the things that makes their running game as efficient as it is, is when you have to account for the quarterback, you aren't squeezing those run lanes down quite as hard."

  • Follow the leader: Packers coach Mike McCarthy hates comparison questions, which made it surprising to hear him say this week, "If you want a comparison, an improvement from last year, I think our most improvement that I've seen out of our football team is leadership." But does that translate into anything on the field? "It really does," veteran fullback John Kuhn said. "Guys really believed we were going to play for 20, 22 weeks and it wasn't a finish line that we've crossed. We've always been like, we're playing this thing through February."

  • Major underdogs: According the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Packers are a 7.5-point underdog. If the line stays above 6.5, the Packers would be the biggest underdog in any game (regular season or playoffs) that Rodgers has started. The Westgate listed the Packers as 6.5-point underdog at the New York Giants in 2010, a game the Packers won. However, ProFootballReference.com, which also charts point spreads, says the Packers' biggest underdog game under Rodgers was in the opener at Seattle in Week 1, when the Seahawks were favored by six and won 36-16. "It's one of those things, if you believe you're the underdog, then you've already lost," backup quarterback Matt Flynn said. "We've got the two best teams in NFC going at each other. Both teams think they're the best team in the NFL. Something's got to give."

  • Blowout rematch: This is the fourth NFC Championship Game in the last 20 years to be a rematch of a regular-season game that was decided by 20 or more points. Twice, the team that lost in the regular season won the conference title game. The Packers were involved in one of those. They beat the New York Giants (35-13) in 2007 and then lost to them in the NFC Championship Game in overtime.

  • Face time: In his press conference on Thursday, Capers spoke with reporters for nearly 15 minutes. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements spoke for less than five. That may have nothing to do with why Capers has held two NFL head coaching jobs, while Clements, by most accounts a fantastic offensive coach, hasn't had another interview since he spoke with the Chicago Bears about their opening in 2012. But if owners or general managers care about a coach's public persona, then it just might.

  • A Fox in Chicago: What should the Packers expect next season from the arch-rival Bears under new coach John Fox? A quick turnaround is likely. In his previous two stops, he made an immediate impact. In 2002 with the Carolina Panthers, he took over a 1-15 team. and went 7-9 in his first season. In his second, they went 11-5 and went to the Super Bowl. In 2011 with the Denver Broncos, he took over a 4-12 team and went 8-8 in his first year and 13-3 in his second.