For the past two seasons the defending Super Bowl Champions have gotten upset in the season opener. The New York Giants lost to the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, and the Baltimore Ravens were upended by the Denver Broncos last year. Well, I’m predicting that the trend of Super Bowl Champs losing in the season opener will continue this year. That’s right, I’m part of the minority that is betting against the Seattle Seahawks.
We all know what happened last time these teams met. It was the infamous, “Fail Mary,” game as the replacement refs didn’t see Seattle receiver Golden Tate blatantly commit offensive pass interference during a last second Hail Mary. The Seahawks would win the game 14-12, and that game would be the catalyst in the return of the regular referees.
Green Bay will return to Seattle on Thursday, but this time I think things will be a whole lot different.
One of the main reasons I believe the Seahawks will get upset by the Packers is simply because Green Bay has the best quarterback in the league and he’s healthy. I don’t think there’s any defense in the league that can truly stop Rodgers. Even if a defense picks off Rodgers a few times, he usually finds a way to win games for Green Bay.
A-Rod’s accuracy is incredible, no, it’s unbelievable. Aaron’s career completion percentage is 65.8. Sometimes Rodgers makes throws that are simply ridiculous. He’s also a dangerous passer outside of the pocket. We’ve seen Rodgers’ pick up yards with his legs numerous times in the past. Rodgers’ has been described as being Kurt Warner with mobility, and it’s easy to see why.
He has a short memory, as well as the ability to lead game winning drives. Rodgers also has absolutely mind boggling red zone stats. In his career, Rodgers has thrown 133 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. 5. That’s statistic alone seems like it’s entirely made up just based on the sheer brilliance of Rodgers’ stats. (Stats courtesy of NFL.com)
The Packers aren’t just Aaron Rodgers anymore either. Second year running back Eddie Lacy is coming off of a Rookie of the Year season, and he’s shown no indication of slowing down anytime soon. Eddie, “Hulk,” Lacy is a rare talent and he’s the lead man in the Green Bay backfield. With the absence of Rodgers for seven games, the Packers relied on the legs of Lacy to lead them into the post season. Lacy is big enough to shake of defenders, yet somehow fast enough to run to daylight in the open field. For all intents and purposes, Lacy is a very complete back.
Aside from Lacy, the Packers boast dangerous weapons at the wide receiver position as well. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin make up the underrated group. Nelson got a well deserved long term extension in the off season. Nelson had his best season last year, which proved his worth to the organization. Cobb is an incredibly dynamic player but he has a hard time staying healthy. Last year he only played in five games.
The Green Bay defense has also drastically improved with the return of a healthy Clay Matthews and the addition of Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. Green Bay also added veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers to be the outside linebacker opposite of, “the Claymaker.”
By saying Green Bay will win I’m not insinuating the Seahawks are a bad team, as that would be a foolish thing to say. However, the Packers have done a whole lot of improving, while the Seahawks lost some very instrumental parts in their team. The offense lost their best receiver when Golden Tate left for Detroit. They seemed to have a sort of contingency plan when they brought back Sidney Rice, but he abruptly retired. Percy Harvin is still on the team and he still has scintillating speed, but his health concerns are always a factor.
It’s undeniable that Russell Wilson is a leader, but he doesn’t exactly have the best cast of receivers.
Marshawn Lynch is also somewhat of a question mark. Lynch has seen limited action in the preseason, and whether or not he’ll slow down is something to keep an eye on.
On the defensive side of the ball I don’t expect the pass defense to be nearly as good as last year, for two reasons in particular. The first reason is the Madden Curse (just kidding), and the second reason is the loss of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. While neither Bryant nor Clemons are All-Pro pass rushers, they were both key parts in making the defensive line a solid unit. What made the Seahawks so successful was the ability to perpetually rotate in fresh defensive linemen. It’s a strategy that works, but I don’t think the Seahawks have the depth to use that strategy anymore.
If the Seahawks can’t generate pressure with four linemen, it limits what they can do in the secondary.
Despite how many times someone on the internet tells you that Richard Sherman is the Seahawks defense, don’t listen to him. Earl Thomas is what makes the defense function. The good news for Seattle is that Thomas is healthy and he’s still back there at safety, and as long as he’s healthy the defense will be good. What they won’t be is as good as they were last year. The best defensive back in the entire league will surely play very well, but the losses at defensive line will hurt.
Just to reiterate, I’m not saying that Aaron Rodgers is going to go into CenturyLink Field and hang up 450 yards and five touchdowns on the stingy Seahawks defense. But will the Packers win? Yup, you bet. I firmly believe Rodgers will be able to lead the Pack into CenturyLink and lead them out with a victory.
With the emergence of Eddie Lacy, the Packers have become the most complete offense in the entire NFL. Lacy will keep the Seattle defense honest and make sure they can’t only worry about Rodgers and the passing attack. A retooled Green Bay defense will also help the Packers win.
So you’re probably asking for a final score, so here it is: Packers win 24-16. Despite the losses on the defensive line, the Seahawks still have a very good defense. However, I don’t envision the defense being able to keep Rodgers and company in check the entire game. It will be close until the end, but I have a feeling a late Russell Wilson drive will come up short.
And for those of you that will argue that nobody can win in CenturyLink, well Carson Palmer and the Cardinals did it last year. In that game Palmer threw four interceptions. So if a turnover happy Carson Palmer can beat Seattle, what’s stopping Aaron Rodgers and a potent Packers offense from doing the exact same thing? Nothing. That’s what.