Football that counts is finally here and what a game the Seahawks drew Week 1. Playing the Packers in Green Bay is never easy, but fortunately, Seattle gets to avoid the horrible climate late in the year and get this one out of the way early. Currently, Green Bay is favored by 3 points. Typically, in the first week of the season 3-point favorites are often given to home teams solely off home field, as odds makers don’t know enough to make an official line. The odds makers, along with most, view this match up as extremely close. Let’s take a moment to breakdown who has the edge, position by position. Almost like a “Tale of the Tape,” we can look at how these two powerhouse NFC teams stack up on paper.
Two of the NFC’s best go at in Aaron Rodgers and our own Russell Wilson. Rodgers is widely considered the best quarterback in the league right now. However, many large media outlets anticipate a healthy Wilson to have a MVP caliber season. Rodgers was typical Rodgers last season, tossing a league best 40 touchdowns. It was no secret that Wilson was hurt last season. Wilson tossed only 21 touchdowns, nowhere near his prior season mark and career high of 34. The biggest hurt to Wilson’s game last year was his inability to effectively to run. Wilson ran for a career low 259 yards last season. Not often mentioned when talking about Rodgers is his mobility, running for 369 yards last year. For a guy who is known for aerial assaults, 369 yards is a very good number. The edge goes to Rodgers in this scenario as he has the better resume, but don’t sleep on Wilson as he isn’t far behind. Expect these two to continue what has been a very good rivalry so far Sunday.
This is one of the more interesting positions to break down for this matchup. The projected starters are Thomas Rawls and Ty Montgomery. The reason it is intriguing is because Montgomery came into the league as a wide receiver, but was transitioned to running back last season. Running back is not a very easy position to just pick up. While Montgomery showed some promise last season, carrying the ball 77 times for 457 yards, it’s not a big enough sample size to have to worry about stacking the box, etc. against him. Montgomery fits the bill as a Packer running back, as he gives Rodgers one more passing threat to look at in the offense. The Hawks have more depth at running back though. Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, and rookie phenom Chris Carson. All of them could make claims to the starting role, and all of them have something to prove. The edge goes to Seattle on this one. A thing that could bother the minds of Packers fans, would be seeing Lacy do a Lambeau leap in his first game back in Green Bay.
Green Bay’s weaponry is super deep at the wide receiver position. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Cobb really wasn’t too much of a factor last year, which kicked the door open for Davante Adams to make a huge impact for their team. Adams was just 3 yards shy of 1,000 yards, while finding pay dirt a whopping 12 times last year. Let’s not forget about the Seahawks receivers though. Doug Baldwin has gone from being an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, to being a top 10 wide receiver in the league. Baldwin put up yet another strong campaign last season, racking up 1,128 yards and 7 touchdowns. Who could forget some fans favorite play from last season against Philadelphia. Baldwin fooled the Eagle defense for what seemed to be a simple bubble screen, for a 20-yard touchdown pass to Russell Wilson. Seattle has some question marks outside of Baldwin though. They are very high on Paul Richardson, but he has yet to remain healthy for a full season. Seahawk fans are also familiar with Tyler Lockett, whom is playing in his first game of 2017. Advantage Green Bay as they are just too deep. Don’t take the Seahawks receivers for granted though, as they can certainly make you pay in the big play department.
The Packers went shopping this offseason and bought the services of Martellus Bennett. Bennett is coming off a bounce back campaign with the Super Bowl champion Patriots. 701 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a Super Bowl later, Bennett winds up on his third team in as many years. Jimmy Graham enjoyed a Pro Bowl season in Seattle, hauling in 65 passes for 923 yards and 6 touchdowns. Graham is simply a better Tight End, and his career resume will back that up. Bennett is a great talent, but I expect him to take a step back this year with Green Bay. While it is appetizing to have Rodgers throwing at him, he could very well be victim of the old saying ” too many cooks in the kitchen”.
Seahawks fans cringe to look at this position, but it will be short, sweet, and unfortunately obvious. Green Bay has elite pass protectors on the outside in Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari. Green Bay did lose guard T.J. Lang this offseason to the division rival Detroit Lions. That could be something to watch out for. Seattle’s line is getting better Hawks fans. It’s just not Green Bay good yet. Obvious edge to the Packers on this. Can’t argue having All-Pro honors on the line.
Normally, you have to look at scheme’s when judging the defensive line, as Seattle runs a base 4-3 and Green Bay is a base 3-4. Key word, normally. But with this past week’s acquisition of Sheldon Richardson, it is without question that the Seahawks have the most talented defensive line in the NFL. Richardson, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark is something to be feared. They might just live up to the nickname they have given themselves of “Death Row”. Quarterbacks will be hit, and running backs will be stuffed by this gang. No question who has the edge on this one.
Clay Matthews is the big name for the Packers, but he really hasn’t been Clay Matthews these past few years. Matthews had a run of seasons in which he was a pass rushing nightmare. Eclipsing double digit sacks 4 of his first 7 years in the league, but he hasn’t done this in the past few years. Last year, Matthews only had 5 sacks in an injury plagued 2016 season. Matthews claims to be much healthier going into this season and that is something to watch out for Sunday. As for Seattle, Bobby Wagner has earned multiple All-Pro honors, and is arguably the best linebacker in the league. The player that gives Seattle the obvious edge in this department is K.J. Wright. Wright is often the forgotten man in the Seahawk defense. He might just be the league’s most underrated player. Wright finally received Pro Bowl honors this past season. Wright had a career high in sacks last season, knocking down the quarterback 4 times. Wright is one of the games’ most sound tackler in the league, as it is a rarity that Wright misses a tackle. Expect Wright to grow even more this year as a player.
Another Portion that will be short and sweet for everyone. The Legion of Boom is going to be the obvious edge here. A healthy Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman isn’t anything to mess with. While the Packers have a young, solid secondary, it just isn’t up to par with Seattle’s. One thing most Seahawk fans will have a hard time swallowing is seeing former Washington Husky, and high draft pick Kevin King defending passes for the green and gold. Back in April, it was a common opinion amongst the fan base for the Hawks to use their first-round pick on King. King is a physical specimen and it will be interesting to see how the young man does in his first NFL game. Outside of this match up, surely most fans will be cheering for him.
This is another interesting phase in this game as Seattle will continue to break in new kicker Blair Walsh, while Green Bay stays with Mason Crosby. These units change year in and year out as fringe players who were fighting for roster spots in the preseason are the ones who make up these units. With it only being Week 1, last year is what we must go off, as Green Bay ranked 29th in Special Team Efficiency. Seattle rounded out the top 10 in efficiency after a career worst year from now new Bills kicker Steven Hauschka. Special Teams play could prove to be a deciding factor in this upcoming contest, as far as starting field position or overall big plays. Green Bay gave up a league worst 26.3 yards per return, while also finishing near the bottom in return yards. The average return for the Packers was only 19.7 yards. The reason this is all brought up is with Seahawks Pro Bowl returner Tyler Lockett expected to return punts and kicks, he could very well have a field day and be a huge factor. Lockett has proven to the league time and time again he is one of the best returners in the league. Green Bay might be better off staying away from him in this one.
The on-paper match up looks good for the Seahawks. Ultimately, they have the advantage 6-3 in the positions listed above. Any given Sunday is indeed a real thing in the NFL though. Teams still have to perform up to their reputations and of course injuries happen over the course of games to make matters worse. Overall, these two are the cream of the crop in the NFC, and most likely both teams will be playing meaningful football again in January. Rejoice though, as the moment us fans have been waiting for since the beginning of the year is finally upon us! Have a cook out and invite some friends over this weekend. Football is back!