NFL Season Opener: Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks Preview

Seahawks receiver/returner Percy Harvin

After six and a half months without football, the NFL season is finally here. The defending Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to town in a rematch of the infamous “Fail Mary” game from 2012, in a classic battle of offense versus defense. Here’s what to watch for when both teams have the ball, which special teams unit has the edge and how the injury report is shaping up before both sides tussle in the now annual Thursday Night NFL curtain raiser.

When Green Bay has the ball…
Aaron Rodgers status as one of the top Quarterbacks in the NFL is unquestionable; however after he missed six weeks of action last season with a broken collarbone his durability has become a mild concern for the Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. Out wide the battle between Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson and Seahawks cornerback Mike Sherman will be fascinating, while Seattle’s defensive front will have its hands full with Packers running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy gives Green Bay their first legitimate threat on the ground since the days of Ahman Green nearly a decade ago, which should help open things up for Rodgers and the passing game. The last time Green Bay played Seattle away from home Rodgers was sacked eight times… in the first half. If the ‘hawks pass rush gets to #12 even half as much tonight it could be a long evening for the former Cal gunslinger, making Lacy’s role even more important.
Edge: Even

When Seattle has the ball…
Seattle have one of the more balanced offenses in the league, with Marshawn Lynch a reliable every down back and Russell Wilson a well drilled if not “elite” QB. Percy  Harvin was unavailable for most of last year but with the former Viking now healthy Wilson will have another weapon to use on offense, so long as Harvin’s body is able to hold up to the rigours of the 16 game schedule. Julius Peppers was brought in by Green Bay to aid their pass rush opposite Clay Matthews, although it remains to be seen what the former Bear and Panther has left in the tank. If that duo can pressure Wilson it’ll force the Seahawks to lean heavily on Lynch to move the football, something that he hasn’t had trouble doing in the past.
Edge: Seattle

Special Teams
Packers kicker Mason Crosby has a big leg but a penchant for missing crucial kicks, which could prove crucial in a likely close match-up. Percy Harvin gives the Seahawks a legitimate threat in the return game, although safety Earl Thomas is slated to return punts for Seattle. ‘hawks kicker Steven Hauschka is one of the more reliable kickers in the game.
Edge: Seattle

Injury Report
Reserve Seattle running back Christine Michael is out with a hamstring injury, while linebacker Bruce Irvin is probable. 

For Green Bay, there are no injury concerns aside from linebacker Brad Jones, who is probable.

Prediction
Green Bay 17, Seattle 27  

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