Tale Of The Tape: Green Bay Packers At Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackThe Packers figure to be one of the primary challengers to Seattle for the NFC dominance this season, and they should have an excellent chance if Aaron Rodgers can remain healthy. He is one of the premier quarterbacks in the game because he reads defenses exceptionally and is one of the most accurate passers in the game.The Seahawks should have an excellent chance to defend their Super Bowl title as Russell Wilson continues to improve in his third year. Wilson is a confident athlete who understands exactly what head coach Pete Carroll wants him to do. Wilson has thrown 26 TD passes in each of his first two seasons, and he is likely to exceed that total this year.
- OffenseThe Packers want to take some of the pressure off of Rodgers by using the running talents of Eddie Lacy as much as possible. Lacy has power and could rush for 1,200 yards or more this season. Jordy Nelson is Rodgers’ best receiver and he knows how to get open in key situations. Randall Cobb has breakaway talent and he should be able to stretch the field.The Seahawks don’t subscribe to the modern theory that a team has to throw the ball all over the lot to win. That’s because they have Marshawn Lynch to run the football with a purpose and establish the Seahawks’ aggressive personality. The return of wide receiver Percy Harvin to full health should give this offense the big-play ability that Carroll wants.
- DefenseThe Packers were one of the most generous defensive teams in the league last year, and head coach Mike McCarthy is determined to turn things around this year. He is hoping former Chicago Bear Julius Peppers can provide a consistent pass rush and that stellar linebacker Clay Matthews can stay healthy. Cornerback Tramon Williams will be under the gun to play decisively.The Seahawks combine speed, athleticism, excellent technique and a sense of nastiness to play excellent defensive football. The secondary is clearly the best in the NFL as Richard Sherman (eight interceptions in 2013) is one of the game’s top corners and Earl Thomas (five interceptions) is a dominant safety. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril combined for 16.5 sacks a year ago.
- Special TeamsThe Packers appeared to be quite vulnerable on special teams at the start of the 2013 season because Mason Crosby was miserable in 2012. However, he bounced back with a stellar season, making 33-of-37 FG attempts last year. Micah Hyde is a dangerous returner, and the Packers are solid in coverage.Unlike most teams who merely pay lip service to special-teams importance, the Seahawks put outstanding athletes on the field and are excellent at preventing big plays. Steven Hauschka made 33-of-35 FG attempts last year and punter Jon Ryan is dependable.
The Packers would like to come into Seattle and steal the thunder away from the defending champions. That’s not likely as the Seahawks have too much talent, athleticism and pride. Look for a decisive opening game from Seattle on their home field. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports