A new season is upon us, and after a hiatus last season, we are back with the 2017 edition of counting down x-factors for the Packers. This week, the opponent is a familiar and much despised one: the Seattle Seahawks.
To break down this series, and what it will be throughout the next 17 weeks (minimum), we will start with three secondary x-factors for the Packers. By secondary, it’s avoiding the obvious guys like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Martellus Bennett, etc. It’ll focus on the linemen, the backups, the kicker. Then I will make 2 bold predictions about the game. And finally, we will get to one prediction for the game. So let’s dive in.
1. Morgan Burnett
The Packers strong safety is taking on even more responsibility this season as the catalyst of the Nitro defense. Playing a lot more inside linebacker, Burnett will be tasked with helping stop the run as well as covering the dangerous tight ends of Seattle throughout the game. He was up to task last year, shutting down Jimmy Graham and snagging an interception. He needs to have another game like that to help this defense.
2. Jake Ryan
Ryan has solidified himself as the best inside linebacker on the roster. A sure tackler who flows to the ball well, the Michigan product has seemed to take another step in year 3, showing more all-around ability in camp. And he will need it against Seattle. He will be a key to shutting down Eddie Lacy and the Seahawk rushing attack. He cannot be beaten in the hole. He has to hold his ground and make sure the running back hits that same ground.
3. Lane Taylor
The newest contract-extension recipient, Taylor will more often than not draw the strength of the Seattle front: Sheldon Richardson and/or Michael Bennett. The veteran left guard will have be at his most assignment sure to both help David Bakhtiari with a quick chip if needed and to handle stunts with both Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley. Seattle has a creative front seven so it will take all five linemen to keep Aaron Rodgers upright, but Taylor needs to play his best game yet.
2 Bold Predictions
1. Russell Wilson throws at least 3 Interceptions
Wilson has been dreadful in Lambeau Field the past few years, including a 5-interception nightmare last year. And that trend will continue in 2017. Wilson doesn’t have the greatest weapons outside, and the trade of Jermaine Kearse to get Richardson didn’t help. Behind a porous offensive line, Wilson will throw 3 interceptions to Quentin Rollins, Blake Martinez, and Kevin King to open the season.
2. Green Bay runs for more than 150 yards.
Naturally, with Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will be a passing time first and foremost, but they need to run the ball effectively to finish off teams in the fourth quarter. And they will do that in this one, riding the trio of Ty Montgomery and rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones to salt away a back-breaking 7 minute drive in the fourth quarter. And of the three, none will top 70 yards, but they will combine for between 150-175 yards during the game.
Packers go to 1-0 with a 31-21 victory of Seattle.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.