The NFL season kicks off when the Green Bay Packers travel to CenturyLink Field to take on the defending Super Bowl champion, the Seattle Seahawks (8:30pm EST, Thursday on NBC).
Since the Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos in one of the most lopsided victories in Super Bowl history, all of the anticipation and excitement has been leading up to this, the first game of the 2014 NFL season. Fortunately enough, the scheduling committee has put two teams on the docket that are sure to give fans an opening game that won’t soon be forgotten.
Fail Mary, Take Two
As far as a rivalry between the Seahawks and Packers, there isn’t much as far as the history goes. There is however one game, specifically one play, that is more than just a memory for these two teams.
In 2012, in the midst of a referee strike, the Packers and Seahawks played a routine regular season game. Everything was going fine until the last play of the game. Seahawks’ receiver Golden Tate caught a “Hail Mary” pass for a touchdown giving Seattle the win. Only, he didn’t really catch the ball. It was clear to everyone except the refs that Green Bay’s MD Jennings actually intercepted the ball, taking it away from Tate before he came down with it.
The referees, whether out or principle or pride, maintained that Tate scored a TD, ruling the play a simultaneous catch and giving Seattle the win. The call was wrong and while both teams made the playoffs that year, that was one of the last games the replacements would call. Non-coincidentally, the strike ended before the next week.
But not everything ended during that game. Some of Green Bay’s players still harbor ill feelings about that game and so do the loyal Packer fanbase. And while the game itself is in the past, the memories from it, this being the first meeting between the two teams since, will be a leading storyline both on and off the field.
The Legion of Boom vs Aaron Rodgers
The Seahawks secondary is one that is respected and feared and for good reason. Easily the best in the NFL, Seattle’s defense was unstoppable last year and managed to take even the best quarterbacks into their prey. Peyton Manning, who put together the best single-season passing performance in history, learned that the hard way in the biggest game of the year. He was in short, humiliated.
Over the past season, ever since the so-called Legion of Boom was formed, many of the NFL’s best passers have suffered a fate similar to Manning. The list includes Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees twice. The Legion dismantled all of those QBs and did so in dominating fashion.
But the Seattle secondary has not yet had the pleasure of facing Green Bay’s top gun and one of the NFL’s best QBs in Aaron Rodgers (pictured).
Since taking the reigns from Brett Favre, Rodgers has been a prolific passer in a passer happy league. He has completed over 63% of his passes in each of those six seasons and has recorded over 2,500 yards in each season as well. That includes an injury plagued 2013 in which he only played nine games.
In each of the previous five seasons, Rodgers had over 3,900 yards each year and 28 TDs compared to no more than 13 interceptions. Last year, in nine games, he had 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Over the course of his career he hasn’t met a defense that he can’t handle.
But then again, Rodgers has yet to face the Seattle defense as it exists now.
It is going to be a classic battle of offense vs defense and usually, defense wins. Rodgers will have the healthy complement of his wide receivers for the first time since midway through last year and Seattle returns almost their entire secondary. It is going to be tough but with the talent level of these rosters, these teams could very well meet in the NFC Championship later this year. Until then however, my money is on the Seattle D to once again make the opposing QB look silly.
Home Sweet Home
If you are a regular reader of my weekly previews, you’ll know that I have made this argument before. It is for good reason though because you can’t underestimate home field advantage in any situation. With the Seahawks though, it is worth mentioning every time one talks about this team because it is no exaggeration when I say, Seattle does not lose at home.
You have to go all the way back to the 2008 regular season when Matthew Hasselbeck, now an ESPN analyst was still at quarterback and when a guy by the name of Julius Jones not Marshawn Lynch was leading the rushing attack, to find a season in which the Seahawks lost more than four of their eight home games. Seattle won just two of the eight that year, which was half of their regular season win total.
In the past two years however, Seattle has gone 15-1 in their last 16 regular season home games.
So whether it is the legendary 12th Man, the record decibel noise level or the overall intimidating environment both in the stands and on the field, the Seahawks have been the most dominant home team in all of the NFL.
It is really tough to bet against that level of success, so my recommendation is don’t.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Betting Picks
Aaron Rogers is a phenomenal signal caller but the Legion of Boom has stopped high caliber quarterbacks before. What hasn’t happened is a road team winning at CenturyLink Field. Add these factors to a trio of Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch and you have a winning combination. It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why the Seahawks won their first championship in franchise history last year.
Whether Seattle will win it all again remains to be seen but what is pretty clear is that they will get a win on opening night.
- The spread has the Seahawks favorite at -5pts but that should be enough given that Green Bay is just 3-7 in their last 10 ATS. Bet on the Seahawks -5pts with BetOnline or 5Dimes Sportsbook at -110 betting odds.
- The over/under sits at 46 which takes into account the high flying Packer offense. That said, Seattle doesn’t give up high scoring games at home so keep with the under 46 at -110 with BetOnline.