The Pack is back! After a disappointing end to the 2016/2017 season, the Green Bay Packers will look to start the season off right with a win at home against the Seattle Seahawks. This game will mark the 6th time these two NFC power-houses have matched up in since 2012, with the Packers winning the last two games. The Packers will look to keep the winning streak alive, and start the season off with a big win. Let’s get you ready for the season opener in this week’s Countdown to Kickoff.
3 Burning Questions
What should we expect from the Packers secondary?
It’s no secret that a large portion of offseason moves was to bolster the secondary. The Packers signed a familiar face in Davon House and drafted cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones in the draft. Looking at the Seattle game this week, they aren’t going to be heavily tested with top wide-outs, but they will face one of the best quarterbacks in football in Russell Wilson. There is going to be a lot of man to man coverage in this game, and that should play to the strengths of our top cornerbacks. The achilles heal of this secondary last year was given up the big plays. The secondary allowed 58 plays of over 20 yards last season which was the 4th most in the league. This young Packers secondary will need to rely on there speed and athleticism to shut down Seattle’s passing game and believe in the gameplan Dom Capers has established for them. Look for them to gameplan around taking the big play capabilities away from Wilson and forcing them into short yardage plays.
How effective will the Packers run game be?
The good news going into this game is that the newly acquired defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson for the Seahawks is exactly what was advertised, newly acquired. The front seven for Seattle will be extremely dangerous once he is acclimated to the playbook. Aside from Richardson, is an established core of incredible defensive players who have managed to have a top-10 run stopping defense for the last 5 years. Running the ball will not be easy against this front seven, but Mike McCarthy will try to jam it down there throats a fair amount in this game. With that being said, how effective will it be? Only three running backs all last season rushed for over 100 yards against Seattle, but it took them 21+ touches to do so. I don’t expect Ty Montgomery to get 20+ touches in this game, but that doesn’t mean he cant be effective. For the Packers, when you have Aaron Rodgers, the run game is meant to keep the defense honest, but if you get production out of the position it is a big bonus. I do think Montgomery and the group of young running backs will have great production this season, but not this week.
How will Eddie Lacy’s return play out?
In the same light of praises the Seahawks front seven was given, the Packers aren’t too far off. Last year the Packers finished 8th in run defense, a mere spot back of Seattle. Seattle had their big pick up in Richardson, but the Packers added incredible depth to their front seven. Ricky Jean Francois, Quinton Dial, and Chris Odom will only add to the run stopping ability of the front seven. Throw in a consistent veteran Ahmad Brooks at outside linebacker, and Eddie Lacy’s return should be spoiled.
2 Key Match-ups
Jimmy Graham vs Packers Safeties
Aside from Doug Baldwin, the only other main weapon in Seattle’s passing attack is Jimmy Graham. In five previous match-ups versus the Packers he has yet to go for more than 76 yards. Playing with Seattle he has yet to get more than 16 yards against the Packers. Trends like this need to continue this week to further the Packers chances at winning. In one of the more memorable blow-outs the Packers had handed to them last year came at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. In that game, it was the only time the Packers allowed a Tight End to go for more than 100 yards. Look for versatile safety Morgan Burnett to get physical with Graham early and often and take him out of the game.
Aaron Rodgers vs the Legion of Boom
Isn’t this always the questions when the Packers play Seattle? So much of the Packers success lies on the shoulders of #12, and Sunday isn’t going to be any different. In the last two meeting Rodgers has had with Seattle he has been able to find success, QB ratings of 116.9 and 150.8. The biggest question for Rodgers success is going to be the status of veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga. If Bulaga is healthy then Rodgers should have more time in the pocket to make things happen. If not, Rodgers will have to get the ball out quickly and
trust the playmaking ability of his crafty receivers. Rodgers will get a tough test early right out of the gate, but a whole offseason to prep for this early test favors the arm of Rodgers and should account for success against the tough Seattle defense.
1 Bold Prediction
Out of all the bold predictions I’ve made, I’m about to make a prediction I’ve never made before. This week’s prediction is that 2nd year wide receiver Trevor Davis will have a punt return for a touchdown against Seattle. After flashing some incredible displays of return ability in the preseason, Davis will carry that over into the regular season and start this season off with a 79 yard punt return and keep running into the loving arms of the lucky Packer faithful that finds themselves in Lambeau Leap territory.