Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 NFL Week 1: Packers vs. Seahawks

Today is the day we've been waiting for since the season-and-Super Bowl-run-ending loss in Atlanta, Packers's the start of a new season and the chance to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home to Lambeau Field where it rightfully belongs.

The NFL schedule-makers have set the Packers quite a test in their first two games, at home against the Seattle Seahawks and on the road versus the Atlanta Falcons...two of the teams, along with the Pack and perhaps another team or two that figure to be in the mix for the NFC Conference Championship. More about today's game in a moment. But first, here's a bit of an addendum to yesterday's Season Prediction post. Here is the overall strength of schedule for each NFL team (based on the final 2016 records of a team's 2017 opponents):
Looking at this strength of schedule, the entire NFC North seems to have one of the lighter schedules in terms of strength of opponent. Well...c'mon. This is the NFL and on any given Sunday, etc. Unless, of course...Cleveland...or Buffalo...or the Jets.

But back to the Pack and the Seahawks today. What do we know? Or at least think we know?

Packers favored by 3

At the time of this writing, the Packers get the benefit of home field advantage in what is otherwise being seen as a toss-up game by pundits and oddsmakers. The Pack has typically taken care of business, including the Seahawks, at Lambeau Field. Of course, over the last few seasons the Pack has also gotten off to slow season starts. This season, the team can't afford that. With the Seahawks and Falcons back to back to start the season, the Packers have to at least split those two games if not outright win both, as we'd all prefer, right? Right!

We have to believe that the Packers offense will put up points, particularly with the addition of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks to the tight end corps, a focused Ty Montgomery in the backfield (who is backed up by all three of the Pack's rookie draft pick runners, just in case), and the best quarterback and wide receiver group in the league. The offensive line is a bit of a question mark in terms of depth. With right tackle Bryan Bulaga ruled out for today's game, a tight end or running back might need to be dedicated to help out that side of the field.

On the defensive side of the ball, that's the big unknown. Apparently Packers management wasn't satisfied with what they had following the preseason and picked up a couple castoffs from other teams to help beef up that side of the ball. Those players seem as if they will be an upgrade, but how much they'll contribute today after only a day or two on the practice field...? Also, it will be interesting to see how well the Pack's upgraded -- but still young -- defensive backfield holds up. The Pack's linebacker corps, assisted by defensive backs Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones playing in the middle sometimes, definitely needs to up its game from last season.

Game Prediction

Overall, expectations are high. What else is new? Anything can happen in a Game 1 situation, particularly with two heavyweights trying to find and establish their identities for the season. The Packers defense has had Seahawk QB Russell Wilson's number for the last few games. That trend needs to continue today. Oh, and for a reality check keep in mind that the outcome of this first game of the season may very well determine home field advantage come playoff time. Yeah...really.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Seahawks 24.

We hope it's not a down-to-the-wire type of game. But it could be tight and back and forth for most of the game given the calibre of these two teams. Seems as if some strange plays also happen in these duels and just one of those today could be the difference.

But it's a beautiful day in Green Bay and the Pack is ready to roll. Go Pack Go!!!