Keys to Victory for Week 1: Clipping the Wings of the Seahawks.
Over recent years the Packers and Seahawks have developed quite a rivalry, to say the least. For Packer fans the rivalry is more about bitterness, anger, the Fail Mary, and that former Packers tight end who’s name still pains me to say… (sigh) (pause) (deep breath), who couldn’t secure an onside kick in the NFC Championship game that would have ensured another Super Bowl appearance! I guess you could say that the past fuels the present, which is why it is crucial to have a strong first performance against one of the NFC’s toughest opponents. The first two games of the season will show where the Packers stack up against the crop of the NFC and will give them plenty of time to build off of early season success or improve from early season failure.
Keys to Victory Against the Seahawks:
Protect, Protect, Protect, Aaron Rodgers!
It seems rather obvious to state this as a key to Victory, but with the acquisition of Sheldon Richardson and an already nasty front seven, I think that it bears repeating. The Packers use of Aaron Ripkowski and the three tight end tandem could present some much needed extra time and pocket preservation for Rodgers to throw, along with various favorable match ups for the tight ends, coming out of their blocks and chips.
Keep the ball moving on offense:
The Packers are at their best against formidable defenses when they start with an up-tempo pace on offense. Operating at an accelerated pace from the opening drive will be a way to set the offensive tone for the game by forcing Seattle’s defense to scramble to make substitutions and causing them to wear out over the duration of the contest. Look for quick slants and screens early, coupled with a couple of change of pace runs to set up a quick strike down the field.
Keep Russell Wilson Contained in the Pocket:
This is about as obvious as protecting Aaron Rodgers, but again it bears repeating. We have seen throughout the history of Russell Wilson’s career that a good amount of his dynamic play making ability occurs when he is rolling out or being rushed out of the pocket. Although still a threat in the pocket, we have seen him be a bit more mortal when he is contained. Just ask the New England Patriots if you don’t believe me.
For this scheme to be successful the Packers front will need to dominate the point of attack and the much-maligned secondary will need to show immediate signs of improvement early on. If the Packers coverage can hold Seattle at bay in the intermediate and deep routes over the middle, and on the outside throughout the early part of the contest, Dom Capers will be able to open up the defensive playbook and dial up some exotic specialized blitzes that will ground Wilson and the Sea Hawks attack.
Special Teams Must be a Net Positive:
Part of Seattle’s prolonged success, that allowed them to make back to back Super Bowl appearances was their ability to dominate their opponents on special teams. Looking back through the years Seattle has always possessed the ability to return both punts and kicks for touchdowns, pin opponents offenses deep in their own territory, convert on field goal attempts, and make game changing plays.
In order to secure a victory on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers must win the special teams battle! Mason Crosby must make good on any and all field goal attempts and help limit any big returns on the kick off game. The coverage team must be on their game, in both the punt and kick off game. They must overcome Seattle’s blockers, continually pursue the ball, and make “gang” tackles in order to extinguish any big returns.
What to Look For:
I will be looking for a highly spirited week 1 contest at Lambeau Field, with both teams offense and defense showing glimpses of their big play ability. The home team has held the edge in this series of contests between these two opponents. I expect that the same will hold true for this latest episode of the Seattle vs. Green Bay rivalry on Sunday Afternoon. I envision a back and forth contest with Green Bay seizing control late, with a well-engineered touchdown drive in the 4th quarter.
Green Bay wins 31-27 and Aaron Rodgers throws his 300th career touchdown pass to seal the victory for the Packers.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave