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Game Preview: Packers at Seahawks, Week 1

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Game Preview: Packers at Seahawks, Week 1

The Green Bay Packers go on the road to take on the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field at 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, televised nationally on NBC.


The Big Picture: What's at Stake?

As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks receive the honor of opening the following the season at home in the high-profile NFL Kickoff game, the first game of the 2014 season. The Packers, winners of three consecutive NFC North titles and five consecutive playoff appearances, were picked as the opponent.

Since winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers have had three straight earlier-than-preferred playoff exits. They're looking to get back to the level the Seahawks were at last season, and the first game of the season should provide a good gauge of where both teams sit entering 2014.


What to Watch When the Packers Have the Ball

A) Aaron Rodgers takes on the "Legion of Boom": Right out of the gate, Rodgers faces the NFL's toughest team against the pass last season and the vaunted Seahawks secondary.

The pass rush is part of the Seahawks' key to success on the defensive side of the football too, but it's the secondary that's arguably the best in all of football. Led by Pro Bowlers, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, they're both hard hitters and ball hawks.

Rodgers and his receivers will have their hands full trying to get open and getting yards after the catch against an aggressive Seahawks secondary.

B) Corey Linsley makes first NFL start in hostile environment: After J.C. Tretter was injured in the Packers' third preseason game, the job at center became Linsley's, a fifth round draft choice.

When the Packers decided to sit 18 starters in the final preseason game, they passed on the last and only opportunity for Linsley and Rodgers to get some work together in a game environment before the start of the regular season.

As it is, Linsley will make his first start as a professional football players in stadium known as one of the loudest in the NFL. How he handles the pressure and handles facing one of the league's top defenses will be highly scrutinized.

C) Eddie Lacy's encore: In his rookie season, Lacy rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns on the way to winning the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

With Rodgers missing the better part of eight games with a broken collarbone last season, the two didn't get much of an opportunity to work together.

The Packers hope having a healthy Rodgers and Lacy in the lineup together at the same time will take pressure off each other, and they'll never be healthier than the first game of the regular season against the Seahawks.


What to Watch When the Seahawks Have the Ball

A) The Julius Peppers debut and his impact on the pass rush: Observers saw glimpses of what Peppers can provide in the preseason, but in playing rather vanilla schemes, they've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

The Packers didn't give $26 million overall and $7.5 million guaranteed to Peppers to run the same old schemes as season's past. Left or right, two-point or three-point stance, tackle or end, rushing the passer or dropping into coverage, they figure to utilize Peppers in many different ways.

More than anything, the Packers hope Peppers will be able to take pressure off the rest of the team's pass rushers and vice versa. Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels and the supporting cast should only benefit from having Peppers on the field with them.

B) Stopping Marshawn Lynch: Not unlike the Packers, the Seahawks possess a mostly-balanced offense with a Pro Bowl running back of their own, Marshawn Lynch, a powerful runner.

Last season, the Packers struggled to stop their opponents' run game, ranking 25th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing an average of 125 yards per game on the ground.

Nowhere will there be more attention than at the nose tackle position, where free-agent addition Letroy Guion takes over for an injured B.J. Raji as a starter on the Packers defense.

C) Packers safeties defending Russell Wilson: The Packers got terrible, horrible, no good, very bad play from their safeties in 2013, a position that accounted for zero interceptions.

Gone from last season is M.D. Jennings and added to the mix are cornerback conversion Micah Hyde and first round draft choice Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

It appears as if Hyde will join Morgan Burnett in the starting lineup, but Clinton-Dix may see time in the Packers' subpackages. Either way, the Packers secondary looks to be better equipped to stop a capable quarterback like Russell Wilson than they were a year ago.


What to Watch on Special Teams

Packers return specialists: The Packers did plenty of experimenting with their returners in the preseason, giving rookies Jeff Janis and Davante Adams turns on punts and Kevin Dorsey several attempts on kickoffs.

When the regular season gets underway, however, the Packers look like they'll go back the players the know and trust, Randall Cobb on punts, DuJuan Harris on kickoffs, Micah Hyde doing both and Janis not being ruled out. At least that's the word from head coach Mike McCarthy.

What remains to be seen is whether the Packers use some sort of rotation or the job will be handled by one player or whether they'll go with the hot hand.


Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I'm going to be focused on Julius Peppers and Datone Jones early on. Containment and discipline.

RCPackerFan's picture

I really think this game will come down to who runs the ball more effectively. If the Packers can run the ball well against the Seahawks defense it will force them to bring the safety' s up in the box more which will open up the offense.

The key to the defense will be to not allow Lynch to take over the game. If they can get some early stops and get them in long distance 3rd downs they will be able to get creative with the pass rush.

cuphound's picture

If Corey Linsley holds up against the Seahawk D-Line, I'm buying his shirt.

Amanofthenorth's picture

More superlatives needed for 2013 safety play. I think they actually only touched the ball six times the entire season.

Guisado's picture

Run the ball. Run it again. Run it some more.


Peyton Manning

JimTaylor31's picture

The O-Line has got to play up to the speed of the Hawks D if we are to have a chance. It will be a very long night if Seattle's D is beating us off the ball. if we can neutralize the speed of their defense then we have a good chance.

RCPackerFan's picture

This is why I think the run game is crucial for the packers offense tonight. They have to be able to run the ball to prevent the Defense from jumping off the ball fast and getting a step on the OL.
One way to stop a defense from firing off the ball is run it right at them.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I agree. I also hope to see screens and checkdowns more often than last match up

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree with that. Rodgers has to be smart and checkdown when he can. Lacy is a great option to be able to check down to also. Get him in some space where he can run.

I really hope to see a heavy dose of all 3 RB's tonight. Harris would be a really good option as a receiver out of the backfield. Starks hands aren't the best so i would prefer to see more Harris in that role. Harris also provides the speed and quickness that neither Lacy or Starks provides. So I wouldn't mind seeing a little more Harris then Starks tonight.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I wouldn't mind seeing more Harris than Starks either,but I'd like to see Starks before Harris. Allow Lacy and Starks to bruise and wear the Seahawks down.

Just ask Guion how it feels to be run through by James Starks. Ouch.

JimTaylor31's picture

Agree on that. If we let them turn the game into track meet we are screwed. But you are correct. A good dose of Eddie & Co. should slow them down enough to open things up for AR.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Wait,the Seahawks lost Clemons TOO? That slipped my mind. Bonus!

If Bahk is much stronger than what he was last season like reports have been saying - I'd attack those (smallish) DEs right out of the gate. I think we'll see a ton of running out of 3-4 WR sets.

Paul Griese's picture

I want a track meet with more than 75 offensive plays.

skokie's picture

How bout a Packer victory to celebrate #16s 27th birthday today !!! GOPACKGO

Paul Griese's picture

Dont you mean its important to be balanced run/pass and have a successful passing game? Are we all that calibrated to McCarthy's playcalling?
I think its all about red zone scoring. Score 7 when you get there, and more than 3 TDs or more in the game, and its probably a win with 24+ points. So I agree its important to have success on the ground - inside the red zone.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Just got back from Vegas. The line has pretty much gone to 6 pts. That as a rule, does not bode well for GB. I don't play the GB game, because I've been wrong more than I've been right. Hopefully I'm wrong on this one. With 6 pts, I have to believe the $$$ is going on GB. Where ever the money is bet in this game, it will lose. I have to believe most people will take GB +6 tonight. Seattle can't be that good. The keys to Victory as I see it are not letting Mathews & Peppers getting caught inside, & then allowing Wilson to get outside. He'll kill us if that happens. I think they will fake a lot of plays up the middle, in order to get Wilson out of the pocket. When they do run up the middle, Hawk needs to show up, or they'll run there all night. I can see the game both ways, but I think GB's offense is more than capable of beating Seattle. I go against my own thinking tonight, & pick GB 27-24. I'll take Revenge & Rodgers

jeremyjjbrown's picture

The Vegas line is moving up because people are betting on the Seahawks to beat the line, and they need them to bet on the Packers. That's how it works, Vegas wants the bets split evenly on both teams. Most of the time Coastal Teams have more people betting on them than Small Market teams because of population amongst other things.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Sorry Jeremy, That's what Vegas would like you to believe. LVT

Duke Divine's picture

27-23 Pack. Mashed Potato Mike gonna scheme up somethin real good!!

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I hope I'm wrong on this line. It tells me GB loses. I've been wrong too many times on GB. I'm picking GB to win tonight. I hope the money is the other way. LV doesn't operate on Juice. They don't try to even out the betting. That is why their line is 70% wrong every week. GO PACK!!

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