The return of football has fans so excited they’d watch whatever game you put in front of them. But, as the season wears on, fans will be reminded that not all matchups are created equal. So if you get bored sitting through the Bengals-Raiders this weekend, fear not, next weekend could feature the game of the year!
In Week 2, the newest rivalry in the NFC will take center stage as the Seattle Seahawks visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau (8:30 Eastern).
The Packers will blame Russell Wilson’s first win over Green Bay (back in 2012) on the dubious “Fail Mary” call, but in both losses to Seattle last season, the Pack have no one to blame but themselves. That rings especially true for their mind-blowing loss in the NFC Championship Game, when they blew a 19-7 lead in the final four minutes.
Rodgers’ numbers in his last three meetings with the Seahawks are not great (64.1 completion percentage, 196.7 yards per game, two TDs, and three interceptions); and in Rodgers’ world, “not great” is equivalent to downright horrific. Still, in each of those games, the Packers had to play at the very loud, very Seahawk-friendly CenturyLink Field.
Next week, Russell Wilson makes his first trip to Lambeau Field, and while the Seahawks went a solid 5-3 on the road last season, Aaron Rodgers is 20-2 (including postseason) in home games that he has started and finished over the last three seasons. But keep in mind, those two losses came at the hands of a San Francisco team that was built very similar to Seattle: a suffocating D plus a run-heavy offense led by a bruising back and an athletic QB.
The Seahawks also have a weapon they didn’t have in previous years in tight end Jimmy Graham. The massive pass catcher is an absolute beast in the redzone, and his presence should prevent defenses from stacking the box against Marshawn Lynch.
The Packers didn’t make any flashy additions of their own on offense, and lost WR Jordy Nelson for the year during the preseason. Expectations are that Davante Adams will step up to fill part of that role, but don’t expect this Green Bay passing offense to be firing on all cylinders out of the gate.
Running back Eddie Lacy will have a big role in the offense early, despite facing a fierce Seahawk defense that held him to 3.2 yards per carry last season. He should improve on those numbers, at least marginally, behind a line that coach Mike McCarthy believes may be Green Bay’s best ever. Homefield could also be big for the Alabama product, who averaged a whole 0.6 yards per carry better at Lambeau versus on the road in 2014.
Green Bay went 6-1-1 ATS at home last season, while the Seahawks were just 4-4 on the road. But Seattle has covered in two of the last three meetings between these teams.
Straight-up pick: Seattle.
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Aaron Rodgers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)