We’re just a couple days away from the critical early season rematch of the NFC Championship game and I’m feeling pretty good going into this game. That, of course, doesn’t mean that I think the Packers are completely prepared for this matchup. They still have some serious question marks that they, no doubt, have been working on all week long but will remain question marks until the game is done.
There are, however, several reasons that make me think that the Packers are going to walk away from this game with win number two and shake the green and blue monkey off their backs.
Lots and Lots of Eddie Lacy
The Hawks had a lot off difficulty containing Benny Cunningham when they played the Rams. I have a lot of respect for Cunningham. He’s a hard runner. But, he’s no Eddie Lacy. I’m thinking the Seahawks are just as concerned about stopping Eddie Lacy as the Packers are about stopping Marshawn Lynch.
Cunningham only had 45 yards rushing but he racked up 77 yards receiving and averaged 19.3 yards per reception. If you watch the game replay, the Seahawks had difficulty locating Cunningham when he got in the open field. And, we all know how dangerous Eddie Lacy is when he catches a pass out of the backfield and gets a good head of steam in the second and third levels.
Richard Rodgers and the Packer TEs
The Rams had five receivers with double-digit reception averages. Of those receivers, the Rams’ tight ends made a big statement. Jared Cook was the team’s leading receiver and the receiver with the highest average per reception was Lance Kendricks. The Seahawks had difficulty keeping tabs on the two TEs all game long.
In his article Breaking Down Week 2 vs the Seahawks Mike pointed this out and I think he’s absolutely on the mark with his assessment.
Return of Morgan Burnett
It looks like Morgan Burnett will see his first playing time of the 2015 season on Sunday. That’s important for a couple reasons.
Morgan is the Packers’ leading tackler in recent years. And, that’s something we’ll need when facing Marshawn Lynch with a couple of OLBs converted to ILBs and the defensive play caller out for the season. I’m not saying that Morgan is the answer for Lynch in light of the chaos at ILB but it sure helps having him back.
Also, the Hawks had a great deal of difficulty in the passing game in week one. Sure Wilson completed 78% of his passes but it was only for 251 yards and the Seahawks had only one receiver average double-digits (Jackson 1 reception for 16 yards). Burnett’s return will also bolster the pass defense which should continue giving Wilson the same fits that he struggled with against the Rams.
Healthy Aaron Rodgers
Probably the most important factor of all is a healthy Aaron Rodgers who has his mobility back. Aaron was a warrior in the NFC Championship game (and throughout the playoffs) struggling with that painful calf. He continued to find ways to keep the ball moving downfield even though he was in pain and couldn’t move like he was used to. But, the fact remains, that, in order to protect his franchise quarterback, McCarthy’s play calling had to change.
The reduced playbook the Seahawks met in the NFC Championship will not be in effect in week 2 of the 2015 regular season. Aaron is feeling good and is deadly accurate. And, that, in itself, should strike fear into the hearts of any opponent.
The Seahawks are for real and this will not be an easy matchup. It will probably give many Packer fans a heart attack, but I think the above factors and an offense that controls the clock will give the Packers the edge and another 2015 win.