Seahawks vs. Packers: 4 Things to Watch
Another NFL season is set to kick off and for the Seahawks it begins in Wisconsin at Lambeau Field against the Packers.
These are two teams that will likely be in the NFC Playoffs this January and this game could very well decide who will host the NFC Championship game. But it's Week 1 and important we don't get too far ahead of ourselves.
Here are 4 things to watch in Sunday's season opener for the Seahawks.
1. SHELDON RICHARDSON
The new defensive lineman acquired in the trade for Jermaine Kearse and a 2nd round pick will make his Seahawks debut against the Packers. Richardson isn't a sack machine but he is a beast in the middle and will command double teams which will allow Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark to get after the quarterback.
Richardson will wear the same number he wore with the Jets #91. The number became available when Cassius Marsh was traded away to the Patriots also last weekend.
Richardson made an already impressive defensive line even better. He has barely been here a week and Head Coach Pete Carroll sees Richardson fitting in just fine.
"He knows he can play the game and he has a lot of confidence about himself," Carroll said this week. "And he's anxious to see how it can mix with the other fellas and compliment effectively."
2. A HEALTHY LEGION OF BOOM
The Seahawks have lost two straight to the Packers at Lambeau.
In 2015, it was week two and the secondary was without Kam Chancellor who was holding out. In that game Aaron Rogers completed 25 of 33 passes for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Packers won that game 27-17.
In 2016 it was December 11 at Lambeau and the Seahawks didn't have Earl Thomas who was lost for the season to a broken leg. Rogers had another good day completing 18 of 23 for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. Packers won that game 38-10.
This time around, the Seahawks have the Legion of Boom. They're all healthy and that could make all the difference between Aaron Rogers having a good day or a bad one.
"We've usually done well when we've had everybody," said Richard Sherman this week. "We've never won in Lambeau with our group because we are always missing somebody. I think we have all the pieces in place to go out there and give them a great fight and I look forward to it. I think we are going to have an exciting game and excited to play the chess match with Aaron Rodgers. He is always a fun opponent and a great guy to play against and plays the game the right way."
3. EDDIE LACY
Another newcomer to keep an eye on, Eddie Lacy returns to Green Bay a little lighter than when he left and that may make him more effective against his old team. Lacy reached his target weigh in again this week and Pete Carroll said Lacy has done everything the Seahawks have asked of him.
Last year, the Seahawks missed that bruiser of a back they had with Marshawn Lynch. Now that they have Lacy, they once again have a back that can deliver hits and punishment to defenders anytime he has the ball. Thomas Rawls can deliver some knocks but injuries have held him back from being as good as he was his rookie season.
Lacy only played five games last season and rushed for 360 yards, a far cry from his rookie season in 2013 of 15 games and 1,178 yards.
The Seahawks are hoping Lacy can get back to his ways of old, beginning this week against his old team.
Lacy is even contemplating a Lambeau Leap if he scores Sunday.
"Honestly, I’ve been thinking about that for the past two days,” said Lacy on Thursday. “Part of me wants to, but I don’t want to get pushed down. I don’t know how the crowd would react to that. Maybe I could find like a small patch of Seahawks fans and do it there. But, I have thought about it."
4. LAMBEAU FIELD
The Packers have one of the best home field advantages in all of sports. It's right up there with Centurylink Field and the Seahawks dominance in Seattle. The Seahawks know what to expect this weekend.
Three straight years with trips to Green Bay, they know it won't be easy to pull off a season-opening win, Pete Carroll certainly does.
"Well, it's kind of historic that it's pretty darn hard to play there. They're great there and they fit very well with their crowd," Carroll said this week. "Just everything about it makes it difficult. It's as hard as it gets in any sport to play in that venue. It's just kind of built into the fabric of the whole place."
Packer fans bring a unique, infectious enthusiasm to Lambeau Field every game. Add in that this game is against those pesky seabirds from Seattle who stole the NFC Championship away, sending Wisconsin into a deep state of depression a couple years ago and none of the fans showing up on Sunday will be quiet. Lambeau will be a challenge once again.
This will be my third straight year with a trip to Green Bay covering the Seahawks for KOMO Sports. I didn't think the Seahawks would come away with a win the past two trips, too many missing pieces.
But, this time around I think they have as good a chance as any to start off the season with a huge road win.
Enjoy the game and we will see you live from Lambeau Field during our Sunday 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. news on KOMO, with a breakdown of game one and post-game reaction.