Yes, Packer fans (and those who wish they were), tonight is the 2014 NFL season kickoff. And it can't get any better than this: the Green Bay Packers visit Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks. Let us be quick to remind everyone, however, that while Seattle won it all last season, it's a new season now and there are more than a few pundits who are picking the Pack to win it all. They'd get things off to a great start by beating the 'hawks. And there will be no doofus replacement referee to help Seattle steal a victory, either.
It goes without saying (then why am I saying it?) that this will be no easy task tonight. The Packers are 6-point underdogs at the time of this writing. Seattle is the loudest stadium in the league. The Packers are starting a rookie at center across from a dominant veteran nose tackle, have a new defensive scheme which we really haven't yet seen on display at all in the preseason, and have some unproven talent at tight end. But, the Packers also have a few things going for them. Do the names Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams and Julius Peppers ring a bell?
(Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Now, Seattle also has weapons. Lots of them. On both offense and defense. QB Russell Wilson, RB Marshawn Lynch, and CB Richard Sherman to name just a few. Unless the Packers' defense plays with an intensity not seen much last season, the Packers will probably lose by a nose. Now, don't get me wrong, Packer fans: I'm not saying the Pack will lose, only that it certainly isn't beyond the realm of comprehension given the place and the opponent.
Will the Packers offense put up points on this tough defense? Yes, despite not being able to hear signals and relying primarily on hand motions and body language from Aaron Rodgers to make play calls. The biggest challenge for the offense will be to help rookie center Corey Linsley handle the pressure of the moment and that across the line from him. Packers coaches and Rodgers are confident Linsley is ready. The Packers will also have their hurry-up, no-huddle offense to keep the Seattle defense on their heels and prevent them from making situational substitutions. The Packers goal is to have 70 plays on offense. If they do that, they will likely win. They need to keep Russell Wilson et al off the field and control the time of possession.
Our game prediction?
Not to cut preview analysis (is that even possible?) short, but I will. It's going to be tight, but the first game of the season is probably the best time to take on Seattle, even in Seattle.
We're calling this one 27-24 in favor of the Packers.
Go Pack Go!!!