The Green Bay Packers have pretty much everything going against them in their quest to win their season opening game Thursday in Seattle.
The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champions, and are set up better for a repeat championship than any champion since the 2010 Packers. If anybody can approach a dynasty in this parity driven NFL it’s Seattle right now.
The only road team to win the Thursday night game at the home of the defending Super Bowl champion since that game was implemented was the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 when they defeated the New York Giants.
It has been very tough for the road teams to come into an environment where the crowd is so fired up to welcome the defending champs back home for their first game. You can ratchet that up times a thousand in Seattle.
The Seahawks were 7-1 at home last season during the regular season with their only loss coming against Arizona in a pretty meaningless game towards the end of the season, and they outscored their opponents by an average of 15 points per game. They especially stepped it against top opponents at home, as they defeated San Francisco 29-3 in Week 2 and New Orleans 34-7 in Week 13.
Since their Super Bowl championship in 2010 the Packers have had a tendency to get pushed around in big games. Most of them have been against San Francisco, and even though they played them very competitively twice last year it was not enough. They can make a statement that this year is going to be different with a season opening win in Seattle.
The Packers have let it be known that they are putting everything they have into this game. They have been spending the first part of their training camp practices inside all summer working on stuff for Seattle. They drafted Eddie Lacy and added the dimension of a physical running game for a matchup just like this. They changed their defense to go more multiple and with smaller and quicker defensive linemen to try to get their defense closer to Seattle’s level. Everything they have been working towards has been about defeating this beast.
It will be far from the end of the world if the Packers do not win this game, but they will have to listen to the questions about whether they can defeat Seattle or San Francisco until they do it. A loss in the first game of the season is tough because it puts a ton of pressure on the second game of the season to not go 0-2. Green Bay should not have much trouble with the Jets at home in Week 2, but you never know.
If anybody has the talent to beat the Seahawks in Seattle it’s the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and his weapons gives them a chance to beat any team any time.
This game will come down to the battle in the trenches. Lacy will have to be featured a ton to avoid the catastrophe of what happened when the Packers played there two years ago and Rodgers barely made it out alive. Rookie center Corey Linsley will have to be ready to run the no huddle offense in the toughest environment in the NFL. Bryan Bulaga will have to prove that he can handle Seattle’s speed rushers.
Green Bay’s smallish new defensive front will be put to the test right away in trying to bring down Marshawn Lynch. We will find out a lot about their run defense right away. Seattle’s offensive line is not the greatest and is especially weak on the right side. Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels and the rest of the pass rushers should be able to take advantage. However, they will have to maintain containment in their rushes because Russell Wilson is most dangerous outside of the pocket.
This is not a normal opening game for the Packers. It is still only one game in the standings and a small piece of a big sample size, but this game could set the feel for the entire season. The opportunity is right in front of the Packers to start a special season in a special way.