The NFL regular season is set to begin with two of the NFC favorites for a Thursday night showdown between Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Currently, the Seattle Seahawks are a six point favorite according to Sportsline.com. There are tremendous match ups galore across each opponents front seven, as well as, the two of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL right now.
The last time Green Bay visited the Seahawks, the NFL was working with replacement officials and the game ended with the infamous "Fail Mary" pass. What has been overlooked from that game is how dominant the both teams were on the defensive end.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times by the Seahawks and it took a Cedric Benson touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to give Green Bay their first touchdown of the game. It also gave the Packers a 12-7 lead until the final moment when Golden Tate caught the Green Bay defender in the end zone.
At this point, Russell Wilson was starting in his third game as an NFL quarterback. He only completed 10 passes for 130 yards. Green Bay had the decided advantage at quarterback, but now Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl champion, an NFL MVP candidate, and he has a couple weapons at his disposal.
One of those weapons expected to flourish for the Seahawks would be Percy Harvin. In Harvin's first season with the Seahawks, he was sidelined with a hip injury for much of the season. However, the most electrifying player in football made his presence felt in a legendary playoff run. Percy Harvin can line up anywhere on the field, and he'll be a factor in the running game as well as the passing game.
Russell Wilson accounted for 27 touchdowns (26 passing) and 9 interceptions in 2013. His consistency has been uncanny since entering the league in 2012. Overall, he's thrown for 52 touchdown passes in two seasons. Yet, Seattle has not used Wilson in the same manner as other quarterbacks in the NFL. This may be the year that Seattle breaks their mold a little bit.
If Marshawn Lynch has anything to do with it, Seattle will continue to work the power running game. Lynch had three carries in the preseason, and looked as quick as ever, so don't be surprised if he doesn't slow tonight or the rest of the season.
Every time Russell Wilson takes the field, thoughts arise about him being the best quarterback in the NFL. Then Aaron Rodgers takes the field and it's easy to recognize his greatness. His smooth precision in the pocket needs to be evident in the season opener. Green Bay can use the running game to help slow down Seattle's ferocious defense.
Eddie Lacy led the Packers in rushing as a rookie, but he had to perform half the year without Aaron Rodgers. Still, Lacy gained 1178 yards and helped Green Bay sneak into the playoffs. This season, it's time for Green Bay to get back to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Thursday night may be the game that decides whether they have home field in the NFC or have to hit the road during the postseason.
The Packers have a dynamic wide receiving corps, and they'll be a great test for Richard Sherman and the best defensive backfield in the NFL. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin, the Packers might be the best team equipped to challenge this Seattle defense in the home of the 12th man. They also added rookies, Jared Abbrederis and Davante Adams in the mix.
Green Bay will be starting rookie center Corey Linsley in the most hostile place in the NFL. If Green Bay is able to avoid the onslaught early, they'll be able to hang in with the game. It will be tough for Green Bay to make a huge comeback if Seattle jumps out to a lead.
Penalties will play a factor in this game. Will the Seattle defense be able to play their physical brand of football in the secondary? It's not widely known, but Seattle has a variety of schemes on defense, and they don't just sit in bump n run coverage for the majority of the game. Therefore, defensive holding and illegal contact might not affect the Seahawks like previous notions believed.
Seattle is home and celebrating their Super Bowl championship. With the wide range of emotions, the theme of the game could go a couple of different ways. Turnovers might be a problem due to the crowd noise. That's where Seattle will get the upper hand.