On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers will visit the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in a game that could already have playoff implications. The game will be televised on NBC, with kickoff at 7:30 CT. The Packers are coming off of an 8-7-1 season that saw them win the NFC North and fall to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. As we all know, the Seahawks enter the new year as Super Bowl champions, after they pummeled the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
This will be the first regular season matchup between the two since the infamous “Fail Mary” game in 2012. While some attention this week will be on that game, much of my attention will be on how the Packers offense will do against the very physical Seahawks defense. In that 2012 matchup, the Packers offensive line struggled heavily against a very good Seahawks pass rush. Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times for a loss of 39 yards. However, the Packers did make some good halftime adjustments as Rodgers was not sacked once in the second half.
But, that game happened two years ago and both teams look very different. One key difference for the Packers is they now have an effective running game. Eddie Lacy showed last year that he might have been the steal of the 2013 NFL draft. Even in a pass heavy offense with Rodgers at quarterback, Lacy finished the year eight in rushing. Most of those yards came from week five on out after he suffered a concussion in week two. Consider this for the Packers offense. They already have arguably the best quarterback in the league with Rodgers. If Lacy can stay healthy throughout the season, opposing defenses better watch out.
Speaking of defense, the Packers defense might be the one thing that could hold them back from reaching the Super Bowl. I will give Ted Thompson some credit. He went out and did something he rarely does. He signed an aging yet effective Julius Peppers to bolster the Packers pass rush. With the addition of Peppers, the goal is for some of the focus to shift from Clay Matthews. The Packers defensive line needs to be physical to slow down Marshawn Lynch. They need to stop Lynch to put more pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson is a very effective quarterback, but if is forced to win the game with solely his arm, the Packers could be in for a good day.
For any football fan, opening day feels like Christmas. For any Green Bay Packers fan, the opening day of football season is like a religious event. The defending champs are going to want to start the new year the same way they ended last year. They want to be celebrating after a dominating win. Only once since 2004 have the defending Super Bowl champs lost at home in the season opener. The Packers are hoping to crash the party and make it two.