Breakdown: Week 2 – Seattle Seahawks

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Sunday’s matchup against the Seahawks has nothing to do with last year’s NFC Championship game. It’s not a rematch, it’s not a chance for revenge. It’s a week 2 game against a good opponent who we’ve struggled against in recent years. A win here would be important for the Packers, but would in no way alleviate the pain from the loss in January.

There. I feel better now.

On to the football. Neither the Packers, nor the Seahawks put forth their best efforts in week 1. The difference is, the Packers are 1-0 and the Seahawks are 0-1.

Seattle, already facing the pressure of a season following two straight Super Bowl appearances, will be desperate not to start the season 0-2, so expect a better performance from them this week.

Meanwhile, the Packers are no doubt fed up with losing to this team. Packer fans are well versed enough in the recent history with the Seahawks that, thankfully, we don’t need to go into any more detail. So instead, We can go straight to the breakdown of Sunday night’s clash.

Green Bay Offense vs Seattle Defense

It feels unusual to say that anyone has an advantage over the Seahawks defense, but that seems to be the case this week. The Seahawks defense put forth an uncharacteristically poor performance in week one.

The offseason loss of Byron Maxwell has hurt their secondary more than they anticipated and has left them a bit thin at cornerback. They also lost successful defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who accepted the head coaching job for the Atlanta Falcons.

What’s hurting the worst though is the holdout of Kam Chancellor, one of the best safeties in the league and the “quarterback” of the Seattle defense. Fellow safety Earl Thomas admitted that he relies on Chancellor to put him in the right position. Replacing your leader with a rookie isn’t likely to go well, and it didn’t against the Rams.

The Packers offense looked great last week in the little time they had the ball. “Efficient” is the best way to describe the performance. Rodgers and company love to run the no huddle, which can be especially devastating against a defense missing its leader, leaving them with nobody to put them into position quickly enough to counter the strategy. If the Packers get into a rhythm with the no huddle, it could be a long day for the Seahawks defense.

The one thing to watch out for is the health of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left practice Thursday with an apparent knee injury. If he’s not able to go, the Seahawks pass rush could have a field day.

Green Bay Defense vs Seattle Offense

I’m not sure what to make of this matchup. The Packers have some major advantages here. The Hawks’ o-line in porous, to put it nicely, while the Packers pass-rush looked really good against the Bears. Julius Peppers looked particularly good with 1.5 sacks.

The Seahawks still don’t have very good receivers for Wilson to throw to, and the secondary is the strongest unit of this Packers defense. So I would be surprised to see Wilson throw for a ton of yards, and I would not be surprised to see him get sacked a lot.

On the other hand, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, two guys who can run the ball as well as anyone at their respective positions. I’d rather not go into detail about how bad the Packers run defense was last week, so let’s move on. They also have Jimmy Graham at tight end. The Packers have been struggling for years to cover tight ends in the middle of the field, and Jimmy Graham is among the best tight ends in the game.

Graham caught 5 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Packers last October, despite the fact that he was completely anonymous for the first half. The Saints outscored the Packers 28-7 in the second half of that game. The fact that the Saints offense erupted in the second half was no coincidence.

Graham called attention to the middle of the field, and the rest opened up for the Saints. So while the Packers need to pay extra attention on the middle of the field to stop the running game and the tight ends, they can’t abandon the edges or Wilson will hurt them deep instead.

Special Teams

This was the most consistent unit for the Packers last week. They covered punts well, they covered kicks well, and the return game looked better than it has for years. Ty Montgomery returned three kicks for an average of 35 yards per. Not bad for a rookie playing his first game. Below is a friendly reminder of what Montgomery brings to our return game.

The Seahawks special teams unit was a mixed bag last week. Rookie Tyler Lockett had an impressive debut of his own, returning a punt for a touchdown. The punt coverage unit, however, was less than impressive as they also allowed a touchdown return.

I didn’t expect the special teams battle to be so interesting, but here we are. Look for a couple long returns, and a few big hits on Sunday night.

Prediction

As noted above, both teams are in major need of a win here, for completely different reasons. But I’m taking the Packers here to get the proverbial monkey off their backs. They have just as much talent and, right now at least, better cohesion in all phases. I think they will bully the Seahawks offensive line and send Wilson running for his life. Offensively, I think the no huddle will punish their defense.

The Packers will win, 31-24.

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By Brian Fonfara

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