Early Bird Breakdown Week 1 – Seahawks @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week one of the regular season and the biggest match up in football this week in a likely playoff preview. With no previous week to recap, let’s jump straight into the breakdown:

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Seahawks’ Defense:

While a match up Packers’ fans have now seen four times over the past three seasons, this is the meat of the game with a battle of each teams’ best units. The Packers will have to be extremely efficient and score when the opportunity is available. Seattle’s stingy defense has held Rodgers to under 250 yards in each of the two Packers’ wins and under 200 yards in each of the two losses. Seattle likely will hold Rodgers to around 250 yards or less again today so it is paramount that they make the most of the few scoring opportunities they have.

Previously the Seahawks have done a good job against the run and they recently completed a trade to massively upgrade their run defense and interior pass rush. Sheldon Richardson, recently acquired from the Jets, is a former Pro Bowl 3-4 defensive end that will slide inside to defensive tackle in Seattle’s 4-3 defense. This dynamic gives Seattle a play maker at defensive tackle that this defense has not had before. This will be both a massive test to the offensive line, as Sheldon Richardson likely would have lined up versus TJ Lang had the Packers resigned the Pro Bowl guard. For the first time in years, we may have to question if the offensive line can protect Rodgers, especially if right tackle Bryan Bulaga cannot play (as of writing this article, he is listed on the injury report as questionable).

The best course of action due to the questions at offensive line would be to spread Seattle wide and throw the ball to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams while using Jordy Nelson to lure cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas away from the other weapons. Strong safety Cam Chancellor or linebacker Bobby Wagner each likely will be able to cover and shut down new Packer tight end Martellus Bennett so it is unlikely that this week will be his first big game for the Packers. Seattle despite having three Pro Bowlers in their secondary is very thin running nickle packages as their backup corners and safeties are either rookies or poor in coverage and the Packers going to multiple shotgun sets with at least three wide receivers should be able to exploit the pass coverage for moderate gains and first downs.


Packers’ Defense vs Seahawks’ Offense:

While the star-studded match ups are all on the opposite units for each of these teams, this is the match up that will likely decide the game. Green Bay should likely generate a strong pass rush behind star defensive end Mike Daniels against a poor Seattle line. That will be critical to keep Seattle’s offensive on the sideline from turnovers and short drives allowing the Green Bay offense to wear out the Seattle defense. While quarterback Russell Wilson has the maneuverability to escape the pass rush, an attribute that has plagued the Packers’ defense for years, his offensive line played so poorly last year there were not even lanes for him to often escape out through. Couple this with Seattle no longer being able to provide a consistent run game due to the ineptitude of the offensive line and the lack of any explosivity or power at running back, and Green Bay should likely handle the offense for Seattle well.

While Russell Wilson can maneuver around the pocket the protection usually does not give running lanes forcing him to throw it rather than tuck and run.

The one wrinkle to be concerned with from the Packers standpoint is that Seattle has two explosive pass catchers in wide receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham. If the Packers secondary does not take huge strides over the play they showed last season then Wilson likely will find one or both of them on multiple big plays.

The Weather:

69 degrees with clear skies and no wind. Perfect weather.

The Prediction:

The Seahawk’s defense is the immovable object, and at home the Packers’ offense is the unstoppable force. If both play at their absolute best and assuming the protection holds up for Rodgers throughout the game, I expect him to play turnover free ball which should allow enough drives to convert into points. What will tip the scales will be whether or not the Green Bay defense can cause multiple three-and-outs or turnovers to force Seattle’s defense to stay on the field and wear them out. I believe the Packers defense is up to the task and Green Bay will later in the game start seeing dividends from the fatigued Seahawk defense. In the last four meetings between these teams, the team at home has had the edge in the match up and I think that holds true here today as well. Packers take this one 24-17.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University