A look at the Seahawks’ Week 1 game against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night, including five matchups that could impact the outcome:
When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m. PT, CenturyLink Field
Records: Seahawks went 13-3 and won the NFC West last season, and were 2-2 in the preseason; Packers went 8-7-1 and won the NFC North last season, and were 3-1 in the preseason.
TV: NBC (KING 5 in Seattle), with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Radio: 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: Rams vs. Vikings and 49ers at Cowboys on Sunday; Cardinals vs. Chargers on Monday night
1. Matchup Microscope
The Seahawks’ defense vs. Packers RB Eddie Lacy: The second-year back is the new wrinkle in the Packers’ offense since these teams meet in Week 3 of the 2012 season in a “Monday Night Football” game at CenturyLink Field. Wrinkle? “He’s a hammer,” is the way Seahawks coach Pete Carroll describes Lacy, who ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie. That’s why the emphasis for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his unit that led the NFL in average points and yards allowed last season will be on not only tackling, but wrapping Lacy up to prevent the yards after contact that are such a big part of his game and the Packers’ offense.
2. One To Watch
Seahawks’ rookie RT Justin Britt vs. Packers OLBs Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers: Talk about an NFL debut, Britt will have his hands full – literally – when the Seahawks get into passing situations and Matthews and Peppers become the edge-rushers. They have flopped sides during the preseason, so Britt can expect to see each. Peppers, who was signed in free agency this offseason, has 118.5 career sacks. Matthews, who played for Carroll at USC, has 50 career sacks. Britt has been everything the Seahawks expected, and more, after they made him the 64th pick in May’s NFL Draft. But even Carroll admits, “He’ll get tested in a big way. He has worked a ton against Cliff Avril all camp in preparation for the speed and the strength. And hopefully, he’ll be ready to handle that.”
3. Fun To Watch
Percy Harvin: This could turn into an exercise in Where’s Percy? for the Packers’ defense. Harvin has the ability to line up all over the field, as he did while playing for the Minnesota Vikings from 2009-2012. And no one knows that better than Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who had to game plan for Harvin and everything he can bring twice a year when Harvin was playing in the NFC North. “Percy is one of those unique players that can score every time he touches the ball,” McCarthy said this week. “So I think that in itself speaks volumes. He’s a dynamic player.” Not to mention a player the Seahawks had for only a handful of plays in one regular-season game last season after Harvin had hip surgery on Aug. 1. If Lacy is a new wrinkle for the Packers, then Harvin’s presence can put a crease in any defense.
4. One Tough Task
Packers’ rookie Corey Linsley vs. Seahawks DTs Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill: With J.C. Tretter out because of a knee injury, Linsley makes his NFL debut in the noise factory that CenturyLink Field becomes when the 12th Man crowd revs into full roar. And, he’ll have to deal with the din while also handling the 311-pound Mebane being in his face when the Seahawks are in their base defense and the 303-pound Hill – among others – lined up on him when the Seahawks go to their nickel package.
5. Don’t Overlook
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: How have we made it this far without even a mention of Rodgers and Wilson? Or Wilson and Rodgers? These two present multiple challenges for defenses because they’re even better at making plays while on the move than they are when standing tall in the pocket. Rodgers was sacked eight times in the 2012 game at CenturyLink Field. Wilson was not sacks during the preseason. The QB who has the hottest hand in this one likely will be the QB who leads his team to a big season-opening victory.
The Packers lead the regular-season series 8-6, including wins in four of the past six meetings. But these teams have played nine times in the past eight seasons, including postseason and preseason. … The Seahawks are 14-24 in season-openers, but 2-2 under Pete Carroll. … The Seahawks also are 9-1 in prime-time games since Carroll became the coach in 2010. … Rodgers is the only QB in the league who has had a passer rating of at least 100.0 the past five seasons, and his 104.9 career rating is the highest in NFL history. … Wilson is the only QB in league history with a 100-plus passer rating in each of his first two seasons. … Packers WR Jordy Nelson is coming off a career-best 85-catch, 1,314-yard season, and his matchups with Seahawks All-Pro CB Richard Sherman will be one of the better games within the game. … Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is the only player in the league with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs the past three seasons. … Seahawks All-Pro SS Kam Chancellor has 90-plus tackles in each of the past three seasons.