Hello all! My name is Stu Weis, and this column has moved from pocketdoppler.com to Packers Talk . During the season, there will be a review of the previous weeks good and bad going forward, but for week one we will just dive right into this week’s game. Without further ado, the breakdown!
Packers’ Offense vs. Seahawks’ Defense:
The Packers will have their hands full tonight on defense. Despite Seattle losing two of its defensive ends in the offseason, the addition of Cliff Avril and the return of Michael Bennett means there won’t be any drop off to the best defense in the league. Seattle was tied for the seventh best run defense (101.6 yards per game) and had by far the best passing defense, giving up only 172 yards per game in the air. But despite Rodgers missing half the season (counting the game he was injured in against Chicago) the Packers were third in the league in offense, gaining just over 400 yards per game.
So the last time an offense like this challenged Seattle, it was the Super Bowl, and we know what happened there. The key difference in that game and this will be the men in white and black. The NFL has said they are placing a new emphasis on being too physical with the wide receivers (called, “The Peyton Manning Rule”). If Seattle gets too physical, they will draw flags. Rodgers is also more versatile than Manning, Last season the majority of Manning’s throws were short, quick completions. Rodgers is more apt to challenge this secondary deeper forcing more options in the passing game, and Green Bay can run incredibly well behind this offensive line and with Lacy. This is strength on strength and comes down to who shows up.
McCarthy has the ability to poke holes in the Seattle secondary tonight by moving Nelson and Cobb around the field. As praised as Sherman is for his skill, which is one of the three best coverage corners in the league, he does not trail one wide receiver all game like Peterson and Revis. He covers his side of the field (the right of the quarterback) and whoever is lined up in front of him. This will give Nelson & Cobb more advantages matchups and could give Seattle problems if they isolate Sherman on say Boykin or Adams.
Packers’ Defense vs. Seahawks’ Offense:
Seattle’s offensive strength comes from its ability to run the ball, where they were fourth in the league rushing for 136.8 yards per game. Green Bay struggled last season giving up 125 yards per game against the run, good for only 25th in the league. While people will look toward Raji’s injury this year and assume it will bode disaster for Green Bay’s run defense, last season when Raji was playing end in the 3-4, Pro Football Focus rated Raji sabermetrically the worst 3-4 defensive end in the league. It was the reason he signed a one-year, “prove it,” contract to try and cash in as well as moved back to nose.
Green Bay should be markedly better this season. 2013 first round pick Datone Jones has been markedly better in camp and the Packers safety position is much improved with Micah Hyde, the surprising rookie last year at nickel corner who moved to the free safety position. Capers is expected to use three safety packages frequently this season to showcase their first round pick, Haha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix looked good in camp but could not win the job from Hyde who just transitioned so well to safety.
While Seattle’s offense is predicated on the run, Russel Wilson has been so clutch in his early career that no game is safe against any opponent. Two years ago, Wilson lead a 24 point, fourth-quarter comeback in Seattle against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Even if Green Bay builds a big lead the Seahawks are not out of it. Offensively Green Bay should key on a now-healthy Percy Harvin. He is most likely of all the Seattle players to make the back-breaking big play that has plagued this defense for years.
The Weather Factor:
Weather will be a zero factor. 0% chance of precipitation, it was sunny all day and by evening will be in the high 60s at kickoff.
The game comes down to two things, will Seattle be Super Bowl hung over from all the patting on the back that will be done before the game and will the referees flag Seattle’s secondary? Regardless, if Green Bay’s defense stiffens up this year, Rodgers can keep it close but if Seattle looks like they did against Denver, no one will beat them. It is so hard to go into a crowd like this and pull off a win. Historically, when the NFL says it is going to flag something, they send the message week one. I expect Seattle will be a little cocky to start and Green Bay wanting to send a message. As the game goes on I expect the new rules emphasis to give Rodgers free first downs, leading to an upset in Seattle. Final score 27-24 Green Bay over Seattle.
Jordy Nelson- This is a gamble. If McCarthy is half as good of a coach as he appears to be, he will move Nelson around away from Sherman and give Rodgers a miss-match target. If he lines up against Sherman this will be a very low scoring outing for Nelson.
Randall Cobb- Either Nelson or Cobb will be away from Sherman. If McCarthy does not move him away from Sherman, Cobb will have his looks.
Andrew Quareless- We just can’t trust him yet as the Packers TE situation is too fluid.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University