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Packers vs. Seahawks: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction

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Packers vs. Seahawks: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy by Jeff Hanisch—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy by Jeff Hanisch—USA TODAY Sports.

The Green Bay Packers will have waited 242 days between January's playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers and Thursday night's regular season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The next 150 days—or the duration separating Thursday and Super Bowl XLIX—will determine whether the Packers can return to the biggest game in the sport for the second time in five years. 

Green Bay's journey begins with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, where the defending champions and the most intimidating venue in professional football await the Packers in the league's annual kickoff game. 

Green Bay hasn't won a season opener since 2011. To break the two-game slide, the Packers will need to become just the third road team to win the kickoff game since 2002. And winning in Seattle has become arguably the toughest task in the NFL: Since 2012, the Seahawks are 17-1 at CenturyLink Field, including playoffs. 

Here are some other things to watch and a prediction for Thursday:


1. Broken Plays

This game may very well be won by the quarterback that creates the greatest number of opportunities outside the pocket. Aaron Rodgers is the most deadly thrower in the game on the run, regardless of whether he's escaping the pocket to his left or right. He'll be facing arguably the NFL's best pass rush, and in a raucous environment that favors the defense getting off the ball. 

Russell Wilson has improved in the pocket every season, but he's still the most dangerous when creating space and puncturing outside containment. He's creative in eluding pressure and his eyes always remain down field. If Rodgers is the best when a play breaks down, Wilson is probably a close second. He'll face a Packers defense that is rightfully more confident in its ability to create pressure, both off the edge (with Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and a host of outside 'backers) and on the interior, where Mike Daniels creates constant havoc. 

Neither of these offensive lines can be supremely confident in its ability to keep the opposing pass rush off the quarterback, so expect Rodgers and Wilson to be creating on the move. Making the most of broken opportunities is especially important to the Packers offense, given how adhesive the Seattle secondary can be against the passing game. 


2. Stopping the Run

Neither head coach has been (nor needs to be) secretive about the importance of the Seattle run game. Mike McCarthy and the Packers know the Seahawks want to pound their workhorse running back as often as possible. "It all starts with run defense," McCarthy said, before stating the obvious. "They are going to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch." Pete Carroll said Monday that the Seahawks will "run the football like crazy, if we're fortunate (enough) to." 

Seattle has finished first or second in rushing attempts each of the last two seasons. The Seahawks do not possess a dominant run-blocking offensive line, but Darrell Bevel sticks with it and Lynch—like Eddie Lacy—can demoralize a front late in games. The Packers' new-look defensive line fit the run well during the preseason, but this is now an undersized unit that will start Letroy Guion, who played all of nine preseason snaps, at nose tackle. The Seahawks will likely feel good about their chances to beat the Packers up the middle, where Guion and Josh Boyd man the nose and Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk patrol the second level. Green Bay's interior defense needs to play well. 


3. Russell's Muscle

When the Packers traveled to Seattle in 2012, Wilson was still nothing more than a caretaker of the offense. The Seahawks didn't put a lot on his plate in terms of throwing the football, instead relying on a running game and defense to wear out opponents. He threw just 21 passes.

Now, Wilson is less game manager and more playmaker, and he's perfectly capable of winning a game on his own. All his decisions are coming faster as the game slows down. The preseason generally means nothing, but no quarterback was better during August, when Wilson led 13 drives that netted 11 scores and nine touchdowns. He completed almost 79 percent of his passes and had a 133.8 passer rating. Credit Wilson for winning a Super Bowl and then still making a noticeable jump the very next offseason. 

And don't forget about his home splits; Wilson has a 112.8 rating over 16 regular-season home games, with 31 touchdowns, seven interceptions and just a single loss. He'll be overflowing with confidence Thursday. A much bigger test awaits the Packers pass defense Thursday than two years ago.  


4. Offensive Line

The Packers know how quickly things can get out of hand up front against Seattle. Eight sacks allowed over just thirty minutes of football back in 2012 standout as one of the lowest points for the Green Bay offensive line in recent memory. The task of staying in front of the Seattle pass rushers will be no easier Thursday. 

Maybe no defensive line in the game is more flexible and versatile in terms of creating pressure. Michael Bennett moves all over the line. Cliff Avril has speed off the edge. Brandon Mebane is an underrated pocket collapser on the interior. Seattle can even rush Bruce Irvin (who gave Bryan Bulaga nightmares in 2012) from the linebacker position or bring on O'Brien Schofield, another versatile rusher who had a strong preseason. The Seahawks will mix and match personnel groupings until they find one that gives the right matchup. 

Can the Packers offensive line rise to the occasion? Even with rookie Corey Linsley at center, Green Bay is likely putting its best front-five on the field in some time. No set of circumstances—both in opposing personnel and noise environment—will provide the offensive line a bigger challenge this season. 


5. Lacy's Impact

Rodgers needs to play well for the Packers to win, but no player will have a bigger say in Green Bay's fortunes against Seattle than Lacy. There's no arbitrary number of carries or yards needed from Lacy to ensure a win. But if the Seahawks take him away, it's probably game over, good night. 

Seattle allowed an average of 137 rushing yards in its three losses last season. The Packers finally settled down back in 2012  when McCarthy stopped spreading the field and instead went power football with Cedric Benson. The young, powerful Lacy is light years better than an over-the-hill Benson. "He's a hammer," Carroll said. "We have a lot of respect for him." 

The Seahawks will be ready for his physicality because they tackle Lynch in practice every day. Yet Lacy's vision and patience ensures he doesn't need to break tackles to be effective. Then again, he broke six tackles on just 11 carries this preseason. Green Bay can give the Seahawks a big dose of their own medicine by pounding Lacy Thursday night. 


Prediction: Seahawks 30, Packers 22 (Last season: 11-6) 

The continued progression of Russell Wilson makes the Seahawks as complete a football team as the NFL can offer. CenturyLink Field should welcome home the defending champs with an electric atmosphere. Few teams will face a task as steep as this one. The Packers come up short in the opener, but a rematch in January—potentially with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line—feels like a very real possibility for two of the elite teams in the NFC.


Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (78) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

JimTaylor31's picture

I don't have a good feeling about this game either. If it was later in the season I think our chances would be better but I kinda see a sloppy game with penalties and missed opportunities. Neither team plays their best game but Seattle being a bit more efficient than GB. Hard to stop Lynch with out a solid middle. Hawks 27 Pack 20.

Nerd's picture

Mike's teams never show up for the first 1/4 of the season. Usually they don't start "trying hard" until week 10 or so, but they always shit themselves early and get behind the 8-ball.

Oppy's picture

Did someone say 15-1?

Whaa, hoo, what? I think I musta blacked out for a second.

Duke Divine's picture

The middle of the defense was the Packer's Achilles heal last year.... Ask yourself if this area has been upgraded or improved since then. "AND YOU KNOW THIS,,,,,MAN!"

FITZCORE1252's picture

30-27 Pack.

Bearmeat's picture

Good call Zach. I don't think GB can stop the run against one of the best running teams in football. Assuming they can't - they won't win. But it won't be a blowout.

As vital as this game feels right now, we all know by week 12 we'll be looking back and saying "So much has changed!" GB can lose to both SEA and NO and still get a bye. Weeks 3-5 are the most important on the football calendar. Win those on the road against division rivals and the NFCN will be mostly sewn up by October 15th. THEN we can start worrying about a bye.

Nerd's picture

What's the track record for "smaller, quicker" Dlines at stopping the run?

Hope it's better than that "smaller quicker" Oline thing we had going at the beginning of Mike's tenure.

RCPackerFan's picture

No Offense Zach, But I hope you start out with a losing record on the season in your predictions.

I think this game will be won in the run game. The key to the game will be Stopping the run and running the ball.
If the Packers can stop Lynch from having a big game that will be huge for the defense. If they can control him on early downs and get them in long 3rd downs consistently that will really help.
I think the key for the Packers will be the Safety's. If they can come down and fill the box to help stop the run, that will drastically help against the run. I don't anticipate him to play a lot but Clinton-Dix is a safety that can do that. He has the ability to come down fast and fill holes, and is a good tackler.

If the Packers can run the ball that will enable the play action to be effective and will be huge for the offense. 2 keys to that. they have to run well and they have to stick with the run. They have 3 legit RB's they can use. I want them to use them all to keep them all fresh for the whole game...

Also, i think it will be key for the Packers to not only run the RB's, but to get them involved in the passing game. Rodgers needs to get the check downs, and dump the ball off early. If they are getting good yardage on checkdowns that will force the safety's to come up closer to the line which will open up down field passing.

2 Days away... Go Pack Go!!!

C's picture

Tough road opener, no doubt. I will be watching that Seattle offensive line closely the first few series. Wilson covers many flaws for a unit that's mediocre on a good day. It has no depth, any injury would be a disaster.

Tarynfor12's picture

Predicting an outcome or happenings during a match up based on things that are two years removed is absurd.

Neither of this teams are the same as was..players have changed,scheme has changed,mindsets have changed.

If we look back at that game we can see the issues the Packers had and yet the game was close not only with the score and win based on a Fail Mary,but the over all play of the players..a tale of two halfs.

The Packers are not even close to that team..they are different and much better on both sides of the ball.

Every season has its rude awakening game...this season its knocking and then banging down the door of the least in week one! :)

packsmack's picture

31-28 Packers in another opening game slobberknocker.

cpitt's picture

Depends on how the refs call the game in the secondary. If they let the Seattle db's accost our wr's then we have no chance. If they call it like they did in preseason we win by two touchdowns because we'll score more and Seattle won't be able to pound the ball as much.

RCPackerFan's picture

I hate to admit it but the Refs will play a role in this game. If they call a tight game, Seattle's DB's will be getting a lot of flags. If they are loose on the calls then Seattle will be on the receivers every play.

My guess is Seattle's DB's will get at least 1 pass interference penalty in the Packers first 2 drives to try and see how far they can go without getting a penalty.

Idiot Fan's picture

I think I read somewhere that, at least after the first three weeks of preseason, the only team in the league not to have been called for DPI or illegal contact in their secondary was Seattle. That's insane. While I'm not actually a fan of increased scrutiny on DPI and illegal contact, the only thing worse would be calling it unequally. Our DBs can definitely get a bit grabby. Either call it or don't, but please call it fairly.

JimTaylor31's picture

I disagree about this "game means everything" or that home field in the playoffs "means everything". The bottom line in the playoffs is how healthy we are and how well we are playing. Much more important than where we are playing.

zeke's picture

It only means something if you think they have a chance at being more than 8-8, no? Otherwise, why do you care?

murphy's picture

Today I learned that playoff seeding is determined by Week 1 outcomes.

4thand1's picture

lmao at the longfaced one. +1 murphy.

Evan's picture

Hey straw man...people aren't saying the game means "nothing" just that it doesn't mean "everything."

Bearmeat's picture


First of all, you still suck.

Second, NO ONE is blowing out the Packers when the best player in the NFL at the most important position in sports is starting for them.

Third, there are 15 more games. The Seachickens play in a much tougher division than GB does, which means they'll most likely drop more than a couple throughout the year too.

Fourth, while winning is certainly preferable to losing, all that really matters in the NFL is getting into the playoffs. You do realize that the Seahawks and Saints are the only two #1/2 seeds in the past 10 years to win the Super Bowl right?

I stand by my earlier comments - this season stands on the stretch from weeks 3-5. If GB can win all three (which will be admittedly difficult) they'll have the division 90% wrapped up by 10/15. THEN we can start worrying about head to head tiebreakers with other NFC foes.

Bearmeat's picture

And what about my 3rd point? Only two #1 seeds have won it all in 10 years?

Get in the dance Cow. Anything can happen when you get on the floor. And the Packers WILL be in the dance.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"This game means everything."

You mean you don't want them to loose on purpose to get a better draft slot?

packeraaron's picture

"If they were to lose and still make the playoffs - they'd end up having to go through Seattle"

There's zero way of knowing anything close to this. Both teams could make the playoffs, both could miss them. It's one game. One of 16. Means a bit more because it's a conference game. But that's it. It's nowhere near "everything."

RCPackerFan's picture

What happens if they lose Wilson, Lynch, Sherman and Earl Thomas for 1/2 the season or more to injury's?

Samson's picture

You're missing his point. Head to head competition is still the 1st tiebreaker. Both the Pack & Seattle will in all probability be playoff teams. If the Pack lose on Thursday night it increases the chances substantially that they will have to play again in Seattle in the playoffs.

Most Packer fans would much rather see Seattle AT GB in January.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm not convinced that it matters all that much to the players. In any case, it really doesn't matter. In order to worry about tie-breakers, first you have to have a tie. I've noticed a lot more tie-breakers coming into play when deciding who the wild card teams are than I've ever noticed for the top seed. I mean seriously, you get 20 pages of analysis in December on play-off scenarios, and only a paragraph will be talking about who gets the top seed. Usually the top seed sorts itself out just fine.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Umm,for those who are doubting a Packers win.....

We beat them with an old & ineffective Cedric Benson,J McMillian starting SS,ineffective Randall Cobb,DJ Smith starting MLB,Erik Walden starting OLB and CJ Wilson starting DE.

The Seahawk lost Golden Tate,Browner and Sidney Rice.

Ummm,I think we'll do fine .

JimTaylor31's picture

I see what you're saying but a healthy (for now) Percy Harvin more than makes up for losing Tate & Rice and Wilson is a vastly better QB than he was two years ago. The defense is outstanding with or without Browner.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Percy Harvin vs Same Shields. Percy will get his #s through running and ST.

Wilson is no Rodgers and their O-Line is no better than the Pack's.

Who are their CBs outside of Sherman (who can't mirror WRs,btw)?

They lost a run-stuffer and a CB to the Jags.

I'm just saying I don't think there will be any dominating in this game. The Pack are NOTHING like the Broncos. Better QB. Better WRs with more depth. Better RBs.

I'll shred up my fan card if the Seahwks bully the Pack like they did the Broncos.

Evan's picture

That's kind of what I'm thinking too. The Seattle D is great, no doubt, but they have lost a fair amount of depth - Browner, Thurmond, Clemons, Bryant, McDonald. The players who really matter are still there, but I do like the Packers chances of moving the ball on them. Strength vs. strength.

TC026's picture

O.K. COWord, I'll take the bait.

1.) I don not know who won that game, I could give a flying cowpie.

2.) Russel Wilson and that read offence of his, is not only boring to watch but
it will be contained not only by GB but by the entire NFL who is sick of that
crap and who have watched enough film on it to make anyone pewk.
Wilson will have his pants full the first incounter w/Salt and Pepper on first
series (should make the rest of the game very uncomfortable for him).

3.) Seattle will suffer the dreaded SB hangover because this was there first
one and they do not know how to handle it yet.

GB 32
Seattle 17

Eraserhead's picture

Are you really a cow?

jimtalkbox's picture

Geez! What if he was? We would have been VASTLY underestimating him this entire time.

Evan's picture

At the end of the day, the best player on the field will be Rodgers. Packers 23-17.

Samson's picture


That's at half, right? No way is this game a 40 and under game.
The Pack will go 16-0 if they can hold Seattle to 17 points in Seattle in game one. The defense has much to prove. Scares me.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Held 'em to 7 last game. Just sayin'....

Samson's picture

2012 is an eternity ago.
These are 2 completely different teams in 2014.

DrealynWilliams's picture

1 completely different team

davy jones's picture

MM better coach...AR better QB...Cobb better than Harvin...Jordy better than anyone...Seattle won't score 30 which will be what they need to win this game...Packers 26-20

Evan's picture

Don't know about better coach, but the rest I agree with.

JimTaylor31's picture

Oh Please. Rodgers is probably the most accurate passer in the NFL. Granted, Wilson is a very good QB and I never thought he would get to the point where I would say that. I thought he would be pretty good but never as good as he has become. But saying "There is nothing Rodgers can do that Wilson can't" is just goofy. Rodgers has the ability to carry a team on his back and there are only 3-4 QBs in the NFL that can do that. Wilson is very good but without the Seattle defense there's no way they win a SB or even get that close. I agree with one of the posters above: Rodgers will be the best player on the field Thursday night. No question. IMHO.

Evan's picture

Oh, Jesus. First Kaep was going to revolutionize the position and now this garbage. Wilson is a good QB. Rodgers is all-time great.

Evan's picture

Just because the Packers can't defend him doesn't mean there is "no way" to do so. Many teams have shut him down. Looking at last year, Seattle twice, Indy, Carolina, New Orleans and Houston didn't seem to have much trouble defending him.

Evan's picture

Or, hell, Randall Cunningham? Steve Young?

zeke's picture

“There has been no quarterback like him in the league before.”

“He has the whole package wrapped up in one body, and it can be very scary if you’re on the outside looking in.”

“He is unreal, maybe the fastest guy I’ve ever seen in a football stadium. If you’re not disciplined, this guy can do a lot of damage.”

If you guessed "Michael Vick" take a bow (and donate to your local SPCA).

pooch's picture

Who carried the pact to 15-1 without a defense???

Oppy's picture

"There is nothing Rodgers can do that Wilson can't."


C'mon, dude. You don't believe this.

zeke's picture

It isn't a matter of what he believes, it's what he can come up with that will generate the most replies. If GB loses it will be like Christmas morning, as he'll be back to tell everyone how smart he is. If the Packers lose AND Clay gets injured, it will be like he got a backstage pass to Justin Bieber and Christmas morning all wrapped into one.

Evan's picture

Hell, why wait till the end of the game? Let's see who has better stats on the first drive and call it a day.

ballark's picture

Packers win in a romp on Thursday, 38-17 that will shock the football world.

Wilson is getting picked (more than once), Clay and Peppers give the Seahawks o-line fits, and Rodgers Lacy move the ball practically at will.

The storyline coming out of this game will be the Packers making plays on defense, looking unstoppable on offense, and now being widely recognized as the team to beat in the NFL.

4thand1's picture

I would love it if loud mouth Sherman gets flagged and goes nuts. Gets an unsportsmanlike , then gets tossed. Then shoots off his big mouth after the game and gets fined 500K by the league. Plus a Packer win.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Schematic thought/question.

It's well documented that Sherman doesn't travel. Why not put Jarrett on his side of the field, and if he gets taken out, so be it. Keep Jordy on the other side with a more favorable matchup and in a better position to feast.


Ruppert's picture

I thought I read somewhere that Boykin is generally on the side of the field that Sherman occupies. Could be wrong. Of course I like the idea, though.

On another thought, weren't we hearing a lot of the same things about how the opener against SF last year was going to be so HUGE in determining where a possible playoff rematch would be held? And we lost the opener, yet we hosted SF in Green Bay in the playoffs. I'm well aware we lost the rematch. And we could well lose to Seattle twice this year, too.

The point is that a lot can happen during the year and the outcome of the opener against a potential playoff team may or may not determine playoff venues. There is no guarantee.

I am most concerned about how the noise affects our very new center. If the O can handle the noise, we can win. 28-24.

Oppy's picture

No question- If I'm Carrol, I'm attacking and testing the center as much as possible, I'm telling my DT's to constantly jaw and bark at him without mercy, I'm overloading the middle.

I sincerely hope he comes out of this game a warrior who has braved the fire, but to see Linsley in interviews the last week, he's got some definite jitters and insecurities. It seems as though the whole team is attempting to boost his confidence, because he needs it.

I'd pick away at him.

DrealynWilliams's picture

But you also want to make Sherman "work".

Evan's picture

If Sherman locked down Boykin all day and never saw a pass attempted his way, I'd be more than happy with that outcome. Let Nelson and Cobb carry the load.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Then the Seahawks could just roll coverage to one side of the field and not have to worry/guess about anything opposite side. Not good.

Evan's picture


Ha...yeah, you're probably right.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Lol,I'm just sayin',man....

Oppy's picture

16-14 Packers win on the strength of a Mathsay aussie style punt downed on the 2 yard line, followed by a gutsy, well timed run blitz- maybe Neal- that catches Marshawn Lynch in the endzone for a safety.

Packers STs wins the day.

It would warm my heart.

4thand1's picture

I say the 1st offensive play the Packers run will be a run off of left tackle.
Lacy for 5 yards.

RCPackerFan's picture

I think the first play will be a Lacy run.

I could see play action first though too...

If they go play action, I think it will be a pass to someone that not many would expect. Maybe to Rodgers. Or even a dump down to Lacy.

zeke's picture

So actually the entire season doesn't just come down to whether GB wins their first game, it's whether they get a first down on their first drive.

Football is so simple when you break it down to its "essential" elements.

Evan's picture

Really, it's a relief to know this. We'll know in about 3 minutes whether we need to waste the next 5 months of our lives or not.

kevin1107's picture

As a lifelong Hawks fan, I must say this is incredibly well written. I think the Hawks D is going to be too much but Rodgers is the best QB in the league. May the best team win!

FITZCORE1252's picture

That would be refreshing.

Evan's picture

It's Packer fans, I really don't think we realize/appreciate how good Rodgers/this offense is.

I don't know if it's just a matter of perspective, the fact that we know so much about the team, follow every minute detail and tend to focus on the relatively insignificant flaws (how much time did we spend debating the #3 QB or #8 OL?) , but we talk about how scary New Orleans or Philly's or Denver's offense is (or the Seattle D) but those fan bases look at the Packers offense in the exact same way. I think that's something we need to keep in mind.

RCPackerFan's picture

Attention ... Cow .... please read ^

kevin1107's picture

My perspective, as rabid Hawks fan who hasn't missed a home game in years, is that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are outright lethal (Peyton not so much... :). Looking forward to a good game and having Green Bay in town.

4thand1's picture

Lets hope for an opening day classic.

Lphill's picture

As a longtime visitor of this site but never a member I was compelled to join this site to comment on this article, 1. Zach don't watch the game if you dont think the Packers could win, if any team can its the Packers ,perfect time t o play them when our key players are healthy.

2. this cow person is no fan, must be a fan of a losing team, never has anything positive to say so he tries to bring everyone down to his level, if you are a fan and are so negative then stay off this site and find something else to do, Rodgers is just an average QB? are you kidding ? please go away.

thats all from me, GO PACK!

White92's picture

Gads..NFl Network, 24 hours before the opener, leads with a guy signed to the practice squad by Dallas..ugh..then to hear them actually talk about the game, the Packers shouldn't have even bothered to get on the plane..according to them, they have no chance. But I digress..

Packers need to stop the run for sure, but I am afraid of Russell Wilson doing his best Kapernick impression.

Lacy with a buck twenty on the ground and the Green and Gold shock the Chickens and the NFL Network Nimrods 27-17.

The TKstinator's picture

I think that the Cow is really the best one on this whole site when it comes to tempering his enthusiasm.
Let us all salute him with a hearty "moo"!!

Bearmeat's picture


4thand1's picture


The TKstinator's picture


dullgeek's picture

I don't know what it is, but I feel incredibly confident about this game. Whether this turns out to misplaced, we'll see. But I got the Packers 31-21.

DrealynWilliams's picture

So am I.

I just don't see this game being a high scoring game.

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