Well, to say the story-lines heading into this week 1 matchup are plentiful would be a drastic understatement. There’s the “main” one that the media wants to follow and that’s the Brothers Bennett and how goofy Martellus is and the agenda that Michael has…neither I care to touch as I focus and care about the on-field stuff, but not to mention it would be irresponsible.
There’s also the return of Eddie Lacy, the talented running back that ate himself out of Green Bay. There were reports he got as heavy as 275-280lbs, which is comical. I’ve always been an advocate for cutting ties with a player that has issues staying in shape. That’s always been a minimal requirement for a professional athlete’s job, is to be in prime shape to perform. Otherwise that opens Pandora’s Box by keeping a player like that.
Lastly, the 3rd major story line, or at least the one that’s most applicable to me, is both of these teams’ seasons ended at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in January. I believe, including Atlanta, these are the top 3 teams in the NFC (Atlanta, Green Bay, and Seattle) which is what makes these first two games for the Packers so important. If Green Bay can somehow come out 2-0 they’d have a stranglehold on home-field advantage for the entire season. Not trying to get ahead of myself, because obviously GB can’t go 2-0 without going 1-0 – and there’s something about having home-field that bodes well to get to and ultimately win the Super Bowl (keep in mind, I have no interest in going to the Super Bowl and not winning…that’d be the ultimate worst-case scenario for a majority of reasons).
Both Seattle and Green Bay are different teams from the last time they faced one another (week 14, Packers W 38-10)…many of you reading know the changes that have occurred for the Packers, but Seattle hasn’t had too many differences – the major ones were signing Eddie Lacy (he still won’t be the feature back and if he is that’s good news for Cheesehead nation) and the trade with the Jets just last week that brought troubled, but extremely talented, Sheldon Richardson to Seattle in return for a marginal Wide Receiver (Kearse) and a 2nd round draft pick.
Taking a look at Seattle- they feature the same QB, essentially the same WRs (sans Kearse), and essentially the same Defense (+ Richardson). The Packers’ OL didn’t have too much trouble keeping Rodgers clean versus that daunting defense, however Seattle added a premier player while Green Bay lost one of the best Guards in the NFL, TJ Lang, to Detroit. I believe the offense will be fine, maybe not in a position to pull Rodgers with 10+ min left in the 4th in a 28-3 game, but I think hanging 30+ at home in ideal conditions should be the expectation. Couple that with the fact that Russell Wilson has accounted for 10 INTs since the 2014 NFC title game (50.7 rating in those three games) – the interesting part is the Packers’ defense has only improved and gotten much faster since those 3 meetings.
Sea +: Their entire defense (4th overall in 2016) returns essentially everyone, plus adding Sheldon Richardson only improves their strength.
Sea –: Their offensive line. A team that prided itself and that was built around the rushing attack, finished 25th in rushing and gave up 42 sacks (6th most) last season.
GB +: Their entire offense. Although losing TJ Lang is a major loss, Ted Thompson bought some insurance by signing veteran Guard Jahri Evans and he should provide a solid veteran presence across that line, keeping them ranked towards the top OL in all the NFL.
GB –: Defensive experience playing together…does that make sense? The loss of Micah Hyde shouldn’t prove too costly as he’s been replaced with Josh Jones (2nd pick by the Packers in the draft), a player I absolutely believe can be an instant difference-maker. The new #27 for Green Bay has the potential (dangerous word, I know) to be an Earl Thomas-type playmaker on this Packers’ Defense. *Question, did I just turn my Packers’ negative into a positive?*
Overall, the Packers are a better team, and have shown to be the bully (which is quite refreshing) in this series the last two games. If you can, head to NFL.com to watch 1 play – the game was in hand 31-10 with Brett Hundley in the game – with 5:50 left in the game, immediately following Wilson’s 5th INT of the game, the Packers rand an end around to Jeff Janis to the left side of the offense. Richard Sherman was lined up on Davante Adams, Sherman slipped on his drop back and Adams took that opportunity to absolutely destroy him on a block that allowed Wayne Larrivee to deliver his “dagger call.” Yes Sherman slipped, but the attitude behind Adams to attack as a blocker is a note he took out of Jordy Nelson’s book of hustle and if this team plays with that tenacity and attitude, I believe there’s too much talent on this roster to fail in succeeding the goal of winning a Super Bowl…however January is a different time and execution has been lacking since Feb 2011 in that department.
22-15: It’s still tough for me to admit I allowed myself to be convinced the Packers were going to roll Atlanta. But hey, when I’m wrong I’m wrong – however I don’t think that’ll be the case come Sunday! Have fun! Go Pack Go!!!