I mean hell it had been 3 days since a major injury, right? In all seriousness, it’s starting to feel a little bit like old times in Green Bay. Last season was such a fortunate one health-wise that there’s no wonder the team was so very close to the Super Bowl. All of a sudden Jordy Nelson and Sam Barrington are out for the season and Bryan Bulaga will most certainly miss the Seattle game. According to Rob Demovsky’s (ESPN) report, Bulaga avoided serious injury but may have sprained his MCL, an injury that occurred in-game not mid-week and required the Packers right tackle to miss a game.
It’s not all bad, though. The Packers are 1-0 for the first time since 2011. Seattle lost a week ago and their vaunted defense allowed 34 points to Nick Foles and the Rams without star safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor continues to hold out and his battery mate Earl Thomas is clearly not healthy. The Packers were 8-0 a season ago at home and very little about their operation has changed, even if Bulaga can’t go.
We the fans have a hard time dealing with this game. Sure, the coaches can wax poetic about how this is just another game. It might be a conference game with playoff tiebreaker ramifications but that’s it. There is no revenge being sought here. For the fans it’s different. For the fans it’s about getting the Seahawks monkey off of their back. So many demons were exercised in 2010 (Favre, Vick, the Eagles, the Bears) that Packers fans have come to expect eventually getting what they want.
The problem is Packers fans never did get the best of Harbaugh’s 49ers. Until something changes, they haven’t gotten the best of Carroll’s Seahawks either. The main two villains of the post-Super Bowl XLV era have gone unchecked. Packers fans are ripe for retribution, and whether or not the players and staff want to admit it, they’re excited to give it to them.
Why the Packers will win: right now they are the better team, and this game is finally not being played in Seattle. A lot of people believe that the Packers were the better team on that fateful day in January. I’m not 100% sure one way or another. I do know that Green Bay is better now. They actually have (in my opinion) slightly more talent on defense. Their offensive continuity is unmatched. Yes Jordy Nelson is gone, but his replacement James Jones has just as much of Aaron Rodgers’ trust as he did. Green Bay has offensive groups that they trust, and that trust each other.
The Seahawks are by no means a bad team, but as you saw when the Patriots came into Lambeau last year, you have to be perfect to win a game in Lambeau Field. I am convinced that Seattle was weakened by the Jimmy Graham trade. Graham has one skill and his addition is actually a subtraction in an area (blocking) where they already were going to struggle because they traded Max Unger and lost James Carpenter in free agency. The Seattle defense continues to lose defensive backs to big free agent contracts and Chancellor’s loss cannot be understated.
Lambeau Field will make a difference in this game as well. CenturyLink field is so very loud. When the Packers are on offense, Lambeau is basically silent. Aaron Rodgers will have no noise to deal with while he sets up the offense. Russell Wilson will no longer have the luxury of the home crowd (or replacement officials) as he continues to try and prove that he’s worth his new deal. The “disease of more” is setting in in Seattle and it’s finally time to take care of what has happened the last three times these two squads have locked up in Seattle.
Why Seattle will win: cause sometimes bad things happen. In the Carroll era, the Seahawks have been very good up front. Everyone remembers what happened to Bryan Bulaga in the Fail Mary game, but his absence is not going to somehow help things. Yes, the Legion of Boom is currently Richard Sherman and 1/2 of Earl Thomas but the Seahawks still have an aura about them. Thus far, the Seahawks have been able to make Rodgers look human. Keeping the MVP down is realistically the only way to come into Lambeau Field and secure a victory.
If not for a now abysmal offensive line, the Seahawks would actually be a very difficult matchup for Green Bay on offense. The Packers struggle defending the run and the Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch. The Packers historically struggle holding receiving tight ends down and the Seahawks have Jimmy Graham. Because of a lack of athleticism at inside linebacker the Packers have struggled defending mobile QBs and the Seahawks have Russell Wilson. All of these different weapons still concern me, regardless of how little I now think of their offensive line.
The mental aspect is concerning as well. It would certainly be understandable if it were difficult to believe the Packers could beat the Seahawks without Nelson, Bulaga and Barrington. I don’t believe that, but if there is a mental block in place I wouldn’t be able to blame anybody.
Bottom Line: this is such an important game. The Packers have to get a win over the Seahawks. Seattle has been the class of the NFC for the last two seasons. Green Bay’s season has been ended by either the NFC Championship winner or loser every season since Super Bowl XLV. Aaron Rodgers won’t be the best player in the world forever and as you can see it’s hard to stay healthy. The Packers have the better team, they’re at home, and a win means a virtual 3 game lead over Seattle in the standings after just two weeks. They’ll get it done. Packers 27 Seahawks 21