21

September

2012 NFL Regular Season Week 3: Packers – Seahawks Preview

Clay Matthews

Will this be a familiar scene for the Packers once again on Monday night?

The Green Bay Packers are back on track.

After the opening day letdown against the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers rebounded nicely last Thursday against the archrival Chicago Bears with an impressive 23-10 victory.  The Packers sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seven times and intercepted him four times.  Clay Matthews continued his resurgence with 3.5 sacks, although he arguably could have had more.

Monday night, after a quasi-bye week with having 11 days between games, the Packers play their first road game of the 2012 regular season and make a trip out west to face the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Last week, the Seahawks handily defeated the Dallas Cowboys 27-7.  Marshawn Lynch ran for 129 yards (with 100 yards coming in the second half) and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was much better than he was in Week 1 finishing 15-20 for 151 yards and one touchdown.  More importantly, Wilson did not turn the ball over.

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s opponent

Scouting the Seahawks

When the 2012 regular season schedule was released, many members of Packer Nation had this game circled as a big one.  It was expected that former Packers backup Matt Flynn, who signed with Seattle in the offseason, would get to face off against mentor Aaron Rodgers in a classic student/teacher battle.

Unfortunately, Wilson wanted nothing of it.  The rookie out of (ironically) Wisconsin beat Flynn out in training camp and the quarterback duel Packer fans wanted to see suddenly went up in smoke.

This isn’t to take anything away from Wilson, however.  Despite his 5’11” stature, Wilson is a mobile quarterback and as he displayed last week is very efficient with the ball and he is not making the stupid mistakes other rookie quarterbacks usually make in their first few games.

Wilson’s targets include Golden Tate and Sidney Rice.  Rice gave the Packers fits when he played for the Vikings with Brett Favre at quarterback, but the receiver has had trouble staying healthy ever since.  He is expected to play in this game.  Tate is a speedster and could also provide trouble for the Packers’ young secondary.

While Wilson still learns the ropes, the workhorse of the Seahawks offense is Marshawn Lynch.  The Seahawks got off to slow start running the ball last week, but with Lynch going over 100 yards in the second half, the running back and his offensive line with Russell Okung (also expected to play Monday) can wear a defense out in a hurry.

As for Seattle’s defense, it’s one of the up and coming defenses in the NFL.  It’s a young defense with the average age being 26, but they’re also efficient.  Last season they ranked ninth in yardage and seventh in points allowed. This season after two games, they  rank sixth in yards allowed,  second in rush defense and third in scoring defense.

They don’t any really big names, but chances are many will know them well by the end of the 2012 season.  Chris Clemons is their best defensive lineman having accumulated 11 sacks in both 2010 and 2011.   Red Bryant, Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane round out the Seahawks defensive line.

Their linebackers are very raw. With rookies Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright, the only veteran starting in the Seahawks’ 4-3 is Leroy Hill. Hill is not exactly a master of the blitz with his career high sack total being only four.  The Packers could easily expose the inexperience of the Seahawks linebackers with Jermichael Finley in the middle of the field, should the tight end be able to hang onto the ball.

The Seahawks secondary is also young. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner at cornerback combined for ten interceptions last year despite both of them being rookies. The Seahawks don’t face decent passing games very often especially with them being in the NFC West, so we will see how good they are during the game Monday night when they go up against the Packers’ elite receivers.

At safety are Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.  They both combined for six interceptions last year.  They are trained in Pete Carroll’s defense to be ball hawks so the Packers will need to have their heads on a swivel against them.

Keys to a Packers victory

1. Someone besides Matthews needs to get to Wilson

The entire league is on notice that the Claymaker is back.  This means Matthews will be facing consistent double teams from the Seahawks much like he did in 2011when his season sack total fell to six.

This means we might finally get to see if the Packers’ restocking of the defense will truly pay off.  Nick Perry and Erik Walden will be key to getting to the mobile Wilson and forcing the rookie to throw from the pocket.  Jerel Worthy, who got his first NFL sack last week, also will be a big part of the Packers pass rush this week.

 2. Don’t let Lynch wear you down

As stated above, the Seahawks wore the Cowboys defense down last week and Lynch ran for 100 yards in the second half vs. only 29 in the first.  In order to prevent this, Dom Capers may have to rotate his defensive line to keep the players fresh.  They may want to keep BJ Raji in there but the Freezer seems to grow less effective in games when he is on the field for nearly every snap.

3. Attack the Seahawks over the middle.

If Cedric Benson can find a way to get past the Seahawks defensive line, it would help Aaron Rodgers and the passing game immensely.  Rodgers could force some favorable matchups on the sidelines against the secondary, but with such inexperience at linebacker the middle of the field could be a gold mine for the Packers.

This once again means a potential big game for Finley. Patience is wearing thin with the mercurial tight end and this week’s non-controversy had nothing to do with it. Finley has got to hang onto the ball.  We’ll let last week’s punch-out slide as it was a great defensive play, but he is such a matchup issue for defenses that he if can just make those catches, the Packers passing game would be back to its old lethal form.

 Prediction:

Packers 28, Seahawks 21

I initially thought this wouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Packers, but after watching what the Seahawks did against Dallas, my concern level went considerably up.

It will be another balanced day for the Packers offense as they continue to get Benson involved in the ground game.  Rodgers may not put up gaudy numbers consistently like last year, but a more balanced attack will pay dividends down the road for the Packers.

The defense can force Wilson into some rookie-type throws and force some interceptions, which could be the difference between a win and a loss.

——————

Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

——————

24 Responses to “2012 NFL Regular Season Week 3: Packers – Seahawks Preview”

  1. Jclombardi says:

    You’re right. Finley has to show up for us to break this game open, along with all the receivers. As usual the game will be won in the trenches.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. SchenySchen says:

    If Finley drops an early one on 3rd down, look for Crabtree and DJ Williams to see more action. GoPack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Mark says:

      Yes, he needs to be a on short lease. Especially with his return to Twitter and his agent mouthing off.

      Could we see him become the next Wes Welker (have him on the field as a decoy only?)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    I will say it now. Finley is expendable. Cobb has become the X-Factor of the offense. When Finley was in his 2nd year, everyone was saying his Athleticism would be the X-Factor for a Offense because of the security blanket factor.

    Cobb now is Wide Receiver, Returner, Running Back and anything you want him to be.

    Finley is now just a tight end to me, as I don’t view him the most special weapon for Rodgers. With Benson at RB, Tom Crabtree is the best TE on the squad because Finley really hasn’t been a balanced blocker, just a receiving tight end.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    • Nate says:

      I wonder how long the Packers should stick with Finley if he’s not going to catch the ball. There are too many people behind him who will play as hard and are maybe a little more hungry.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      • Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

        My guess would be at least the season. I think the problem with Finley, is that he really has no drive in a sense. No one that good loses his hands, and he did went to Texas which is a Top Tier college program.

        I think Finley still can have a Pro-Bowl level career, and maybe All-Pro. I just don’t know if Green Bay is the place. He needs a mental punch in the mouth.

        Almost the exact opposite was Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers and Jarrett Bush. Clay and Aaron were able develop their game into the pro level and now are All-Pro.

        Jarrett was always picked to be that one guy on the roster who shouldn’t be with the Packers, and he never gave up despite his limited skillset and using that fuel he became the Packers best special teams weapon that is not a Punter/Kicker.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  4. Nate says:

    If the line can get pressure on Wilson we could see several interceptions on Monday

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    The worst thing that could happen for the Packers…is to have Finley be the hero in a win.
    How many games of excuses will that buy him when he isn’t close to being the’potential freak’again and again and again.
    2010,2010,2010…faze his ass out and stop the’if’ with him and win without him.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  6. BrianD says:

    The coaches had better be pounding one word into Perry’s head this week: contain.

    If he doesn’t contain Russell Wilson he’ll be riding the pine most of the game while our speedier pass rushers take over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      We have speedier pass rushers?

      Do not mistake Perry’s bull rush as a limitation. Perry has got impressive speed as well, though we have not seen it yet.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. I bleed green more says:

    Finley to me needs to produce, he shows up half the time. He misses his blocks often, I am no expert but when you as big as he is its pretty easy to see. How many times have other players catch the ball, Finley goes oops and and misses and our player gets tackled behind the line. Example Bear game at Christmas, Bear game last week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    “I initially thought this wouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Packers, but after watching what the Seahawks did against Dallas, my concern level went considerably up.”

    The Cowboys beat themselves more than the Seahawks beat them:

    1. Horrible special teams play.
    2. Atrocious tackling.
    3. Bad accuracy by Romo. Guys were getting open.

    Let’s not forget that Seattle lost to Arizona in week 1.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Mark says:

      Seattle was spotted 10 points against Dallas. I am getting worried about the Cardinals. Looking at the schedule, I had that chalked up as a “W”. But their defense is sick and if their QB can “manage” the game, they will be in it. #GoPACKGo

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. madtowne says:

    Lynch is an excellent RB and Wilson can
    really scramble.Stopping these guys is
    the key to winning. The D must bring it!

    Our offense will score, and the special
    teams units are among the best.

    Packers 31 Seahawks 17

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. nick perry says:

    Wow, I hope it really doesn’t come down to a guy who seems to be a distraction every week. If he’s not dropping the ball he’s saying something stupid (Now it’s his agent), or my personal fav, acting like a complete idiot when making a 4 yard catch. Is he acting this way because it’s a 1st down or he actually hung on to the2 ball. I’m with the person who said to use Cobb in other ways and get D.J. Williams on the field. I’m tired of Finley, his mouth, and his hands…or lack of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  11. Oppy says:

    Yeah, Finley deserves all the hate for dropping balls, just like Donald Driver last season… Oh, wait.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. BTF says:

    I understand the frustrations with Finley but I don’t understand those who seem to want him run out of town at the first chance.

    Even with the drops last year he put up the numbers of a good receiving TE-not outstanding but good-and he is someone the opposition have to game plan for. I like all our TE’s but I’m not sure the same can be said for Quarless or DJ Williams..

    I’ve not seen anything that says that Finley is a bad professional in practice and he’s not in off field trouble. Sure he’s got an ego and he speaks without thinking sometimes. Pro sports would be a sparsely populated space if you removed everyone who does that..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. D4L says:

    Sorry for the dislike Al! iPhone error!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Nerdmann says:

    I look at this game as one where we’d try to contain Wilson and force him to throw.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Mike H. says:

    I say the Packers have two jobs on Monday:

    1. Win the game (of course).

    2. Put Russel Wilson back where he belongs, as a backup quarterback. Go Matt Flynn!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0