Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)
The Seahawks have a big task ahead of them in week 3, as they host the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers in front of a nationally televised audience on Monday night. The Seahawks are coming off a much needed win last weekend over Dallas and the Packers are also coming off a dominating victory over Chicago last Thursday night. The Seahawks are 5-10 all-time against Green Bay. In their last meeting, the Seahawks were blown out by the Packers at Lambeau Field 48-10 in 2009. Here is what I will be looking for this week.
This week the Seahawks need to make sure the best players start along the offensive line. This means having Russell Okung at full strength. Although the Packers have struggled recently as a whole on defense they have some pretty spectacular players. Clay Matthews in particular is a player the Seahawks must keep in check. Through two games Matthews already has 6 sacks. I always touch on the fact that Russell Wilson can make plays happen with his feet but it would be much easier to have the offensive line give him the time and the protection to make throws from within the pocket. In addition to Matthews, the Seahawks also have to keep a keen eye on B.J Raji along the defensive line and Tramon Williams in the secondary. Raji can singlehandedly give Marshawn Lynch fits this week and Williams can make the Seahawks pay if Russell Wilson is not on target with his throws.
I have heard a lot of talk early this week about the Seahawks perhaps using a ground-and-pound strategy this week. Marshawn Lynch is averaging 103.5 yards per game and I have no reason to believe why Lynch will not break 100 yards again against the Packers. Maintaining a steady run game against the Packers enables many things that would carry momentum to a victory. If the Seahawks are effective running the ball, expect them to win the time of possession battle and put themselves in position for many scoring drives. However going off of this point…
The Seahawks cannot afford to settle for field goals on every drive. I have full confidence in our defense to keep the Packers offense in check but I do expect the Packers to score touchdowns. Russell Wilson needs to improve in the passing game. The Seahawks rank last in the NFL in passing yards per game and a strong performance by Russell Wilson will put us in a great position to win. This week I predict that Sidney Rice will be our leading receiver. I think the Packers will give up a couple big plays that will carry Rice over 100 receiving yards this week.
Our pass rush has not shown significant improvement acceptable to my standards. Because we are up against a talented gun slinging quarterback this week I think our pass rush will struggle again this week. On defense, if we can hold the Packers offense to less than 150 yards in each half I think we will be in great shape. Look for our secondary to be in the spotlight on Monday night. I will not predict any interceptions or big plays but I think all four starting secondary players will play up to expectations.
The Green Bay Packers are a very talented team. Aaron Rodgers is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league and the weapons he has around him scare me this week. Cedric Benson saw expanded play last week so I would expect to see the Packers try to establish the running game early. As far as receivers, Rodgers has Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, and Jermichael Finley to throw to. All five of these guys can put up big numbers and all can find a way to get open. Jennings will most likely be back this week after missing the Chicago game with a groin injury. If we cannot put pressure on Rodgers, these receivers will put up big numbers.
The Seahawks this week will be keeping a close eye on the Packers special teams. Last week, Green Bay ran a fake field goal that turned into a touchdown pass and a relatively easy seven points. I do not expect Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to pull trick plays out of his hat again this week but the Seahawks need to be aware that fake plays are included in the Green Bay playbook.
The Seahawks have not lost a home game on Monday Night Football since 2004. Since then the Seahawks are 4-0 at home on Monday night. This week the 12th Man will be on fire and it will be up to the Seahawks to make sure we stay that way. Bad play and Green Bay scores will take the fans out of the game so the Seahawks need to keep up their Monday night momentum. Best case scenario to keep the crowd alive is to score. Score early, score often.
Random Thoughts: The last time the Seahawks played on Monday night I showed up at halftime due to a final exam for school. This year I am sacrificing my first day of the 2012 school year to be at the game. It better just be syllabus day in both of my Monday classes… The Seahawks are giving out white rally towels to the first 50,000 fans this week. Looks like I may have to cut my prefunction short this week to make sure I get one… Kris Allen of 2009 American Idol fame is singing the national anthem Monday night. Usually for primetime games the home team is able to book a well-known artist so Allen is a breath of fresh air in my opinion… There has been buzz online this week about the possibility of Chris Hansen raising the 12th Man flag on Monday night. The new Seattle arena is on track to be officially approved on Monday so I think it would be only fitting to have Hansen raise the flag. However, according to multiple Twitter reports, former Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer will be raising the flag. Dilfer works as an analyst on Monday Night Countdown so he will be in town for the game… I have been used to cold weather primetime home games recently. It will be nice to go to a primetime game with no sweatshirt and shorts instead of jeans… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue this week. I want to know what games we will be wearing gray for… Honestly I don’t want Greg Jennings to play for Green Bay. I would be fully content with starting DeSean Jackson and Mike Williams of Tampa Bay in fantasy football this week… The offense will be introduced this week. I cannot wait for Russell Wilson to run onto the field on national television in front of the 12th Man and all the fans who cheered him on at the University of Wisconsin… I will be bringing lots of Skittles this week. Fair warning: If anyone is sitting in or around section 340 on Monday night, be prepared for a Skittles shower if Beast Mode scores a touchdown… I’m so happy I won’t have to listen to Jon Gruden’s horrible analysis on television… Maybe if we win I’ll try to go down to field level to get a picture with Stuart Scott of ESPN. That would be pretty cool, even though I have heard he can be a d**k sometimes… Speaking of ESPN, it will be nice to get a lot of national media coverage this weekend leading up to the game. I just hope all the talk is not about the Packers. Who am I kidding? Of course it will be. The Seahawks get ZERO national media respect… If we win the talk on ESPN better not be about how the Packers lost. That happened last week against the Cowboys. Nobody wanted to acknowledge the fact that we played an incredible game. Stupid east coast bias.
Prediction: This game will be a lot closer than most people think. At this point however, I’m not convinced the Seahawks can pull it off. They have the pieces and the talent to win but I am not convinced right now that it will all come together. The lack of a pass rush will be the difference in this game. I think we could be in for a track meet early on in the game. I see Aaron Rodgers passing for at least 275 yards and a couple touchdowns. The Seahawks will be competitive throughout the entire game but the Packers will sneak out of Seattle with a victory.
Packers 31, Seahawks 27
Check back Tuesday afternoon as I review the Monday night matchup with the Packers and preview the next upcoming week of practice. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Seahawks!
ESPN: CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?