Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Site: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
This is the most anticipated preseason game this season. On Friday night in front of a nationally televised audience, the Seahawks head to Green Bay to take on the Packers in a rematch of last year’s 14-12 Seahawks victory on Monday Night Football. The game was highlighted by Golden Tate’s disputed touchdown catch on the final play of the game. The play, ruled a simultaneous catch by Tate and defender M.D. Jennings, was awarded to the Seahawks even though Jennings appeared to have more control over the ball. The game did not have any effect on the Seahawks at the end of the season but a Green Bay win would have given the Packers the number two seed in the NFC playoffs and could have changed the landscape of how last season ended in the National Football League. There are some notable things to be watching in this game so let’s get right to it.
The starters will see the most playing time of the preseason this week. Both starting units will play into the third quarter on Friday night. What makes this noteworthy is our opponent. The Green Bay Packers are the defending NFC North champions and are expected by many to win their division once again in 2013 and compete to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII. For the starters to get the majority of their preseason playing time against the starting defense on a team that is also very talented is the best thing for the Seahawks. From this standpoint I am excited for two things specifically. I am excited to see how Russell Wilson handles the Green Bay defense and I am excited to see how our defense matches up against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense. If we can hold the Packers offense and keep our offense on the field, that can only be a sign of good things to come in the regular season.
With the trade of John Moffitt to the Denver Broncos, J.R. Sweezy has officially won the starting right guard spot. Although I am disappointed in the trade, I am glad we were able to get it done now. Every starting offensive line spot has now been solidified and the job now is to build continuity between these five guys. Sweezy is still a bit raw and I thought Moffitt was a better fit for the time being (which is why I am disappointed) but in the long run I think this will be good for the team. It will be interesting to see what kinds of blitz packages Green Bay will dial up, specifically in Sweezy’s direction. Do not be surprised to see Clay Matthews attempt to rush up the middle and through Sweezy. If Sweezy can maintain his ground, our offense will be in good shape.
I will have special interest in the starters and the overall playing time of certain Seahawks defenders this week. Benson Mayowa started at defensive end against Denver last week and could get the start again in Green Bay. We will see a lot of Mayowa and linebacker John Lotulelei as well as linebacker Allen Bradford. Bradford can play all three linebacker spots and will mainly be competing for the backup middle linebacker spot. Bradford has impressed throughout the preseason although he has not gained as much attention as Mayowa and Lotulelei. If Bradford can also impress on special teams Heath Farwell, Bradford’s primary competition, could be out of a job come time for roster cuts. Antoine Winfield is another man to watch. According to defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Winfield is currently the starting nickel corner in front of Walter Thurmond. An impactful game by Winfield could solidify his roster spot, a spot that was considered to be unstable during the first week of training camp.
For the Green Bay Packers I am mostly interested in their offense. Green Bay has some serious question marks along the offensive line considering starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Packers offensive line was a point of weakness last season. The Seahawks can confirm that given their 8 first half sacks of Aaron Rodgers in their matchup last season. According to the Packers official depth chart rookie David Bakhtiari is in line to start at left tackle in place of Bulaga on Friday night. Look for the Seahawks to send increased pressure to Bakhtiari’s side to see how he handles it. The Packers also drafted two rookie running backs this year. According to the Packers website DuJuan Harris is currently the starter but make sure to watch how Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin fit into Green Bay plans both in the backfield and on special teams.
Random Thoughts: I hope Golden Tate is ready to hear the boo birds. Packers fans still remember what happened last season and if social media is any indication, Tate will be showered with boos throughout the game. I hope we see Tate score a touchdown to see what kind of fun he has planned for the fans regarding his touchdown celebration… How many times will we see the replay of last year’s game during the broadcast? I say five… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week… Ian Eagle and Phil Simms have the call for CBS this week… No word yet on who the referee for this week’s game is… It’s too bad we’re playing in Green Bay during the preseason. Of all the regular season road games I have been to, I am waiting for the chance to see the Seahawks play at Lambeau. Maybe it will happen next season… I have my fantasy football draft on Sunday night. Here’s to an injury-free week of football!
Prediction: I think the game will go back and forth until the backups come into the game. I think the Packers will hold a 10 point lead at the time the starters exit the game and the Seahawks will close the gap with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Unfortunately I think the Packers hold on for a victory this week and snap the Seahawks preseason winning streak.
Packers 31, Seahawks 27
Check back on Saturday for a review of the game. Go Hawks!