Packers XLV

A Preview of the NFC Title Game?

Posted September 8th, 2017 @ 02:09pm

Finally. The 2017 season is finally here and the Pack gets its most heated non-NFC North rival and fellow favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Is it Sunday yet?

There are enough storylines to fill Lambeau Field: the return of Eddie Lacy, the debut of Marcellus Bennett--who faces his brother, Michael, the Pack's pass rush against the 'Hawks weak OL, Russell Wilson looking to put last year's five interception performance behind him, not to mention that whenever these teams meet, something wild seems to happen.

But season openers don't get any bigger than this for the obvious reason: the Packers have had to play on the road the last three times they reached the NFC title game. The winner in this one will get the tiebreaker edge, should it come down to that. I know, that's a long way off, but does anyone out there like the Pack's chances in an NFC title game at Qwest Field? We are all trying to forget what happened the last time...

The Packers and Seahawks are NFC favorites by most experts. Of ESPN's 33 NFL talking heads who made their Super Bowl predictions, 27 picked one of these two teams to make it to Minneapolis (16 picked the Pack). The Falcons were next with 3--nobody else got more than one vote.

Nothing has changed in Seattle. They're still led by Russell Wilson and an all-world defense and they're all healthy. The Legion of Boom was neutered last season when Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas got hurt. They're back and they just added one of the best D-linemen in the game in Sheldon Richardson, who may need a few games to get comfortable in the scheme--that should benefit the Pack a bit. Their weak link is at corner, where Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane are solid, but there's not much behind them. Look for Aaron Rodgers to identify the weak link and take advantage.

It looks like Bryan Bulaga will be able to go--the idea of Kyle Murphy dealing with Michael Bennett and KJ Wright is frightening. If he's close to 100%, the Pack's topnotch pass blocking unit should be able to hold up. History is on Green Bay's side here: Rodgers is 3-0 at home against Seattle, with 100+ passer ratings in all three six TDs and zero picks.

Unlike in recent years, we don't exactly know what this offense will look like. We didn't get much of a preseason look at Ty Montgomery after a full offseason turning himself into a running back. I have a feeling he will have a productive day as Mike McCarthy finds creative ways to use him. Also, will we see a lot of two tight end looks to get the two free agents on the field? If so, does that put Randall Cobb on the sidelines?

But it's on the other side of the ball where most of the important questions lie. Have they done enough to improve from last year's miserable pass defense? Have the two third year guys put 2016 behind them? Is Davon House capable of being a #1 corner, at least until Kevin King gets his feet under him? Will Clay Matthews and Nick Perry get to Russell Wilson? If they can't beat this set of tackles, it may be a long season. Will Dom Capers get exciting rookie Josh Jones on the field? If so, at whose expense? Joe Thomas (he asked, hopefully)?

The summer injuries to rookies Vince Biegel and Montravius Adams caused Ted Thompson to look outside the organization for replacements and I love the additions of Ahmad Brooks and Quinton Dial. How long have we been frustrated to watch late round picks and undrafted free agents be asked to step up? When your team has an MVP caliber QB, you need to be in 'win now' mode and the Packers front office has finally changed their  MO.

The Pack's depth at outside linebacker was frightening; Brooks' arrival gives them a third proven veteran to rotate in, and serve as protection when one of the two starters gets hurt, which is bound to happen. Dial replaces Leroy Guion and will allow Adams to catch up since he hasn't been in pads since the Senior Bowl.

It will be interesting to see how the special teams fare. The Packers will have their hands full with Tyler Lockette, who's been nursing a knee injury but was a full participant in Thursday's practice. On the flip side, we'll see if Jeff Janis (KR) and Trevor Davis (PR) can show they deserve the return jobs. And punter Justin Vogel has looked solid over the summer, but everything changes when the games count and he is a rookie--there rebound to be butterflies.

The Packers understand the importance of this one. For my money, it's the most important game on the schedule. The Pack opens with three of four at home, but with tough road games in Atlanta and Dallas in the first five, taking care of business at home is an absolute must if they want to prevent the slow starts that have doomed their home playoff hope in recent years.

I think these teams will open and close the season against each other. I see them meeting again in the NFC title game--this time at Lambeau. The Packers will slow Eddie Lacy and the running game, pay extra attention to Doug Baldwin, and of course keep a spy to prevent Wilson from running wild. They won't be perfect, but the defense will do enough to allow the offense to do its thing.

Rodgers is the difference, as usual. The Pack has won its last four home openers and seven straight at home against the 'Hawks. Here comes number eight.

Packers 27  Seahawks 23

Reminder: "Packer Preview" returns for a 22nd season on KFAN this Sunday morning at 7am. If you want to sleep in, listen later on iHeart Radio or iTunes. And I'll debut my "Packer Review" podcast, available on Monday morning.

 

 

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Comments (12):

So Far: Beautifully thrown interception by Rodgers ! ...... also: Ty Montgomery has 8 carries for 16 yards ..... he's almost as good as O.J. Simpson ! ..... ( I meant the 2017 version of O.J Simpson )

on September 10th, 2017 at 04:40pm

Everyone, especially Larry, R-E-L-A-X and don't start the whining about officials. The Packers were the better team today. Rodgers is special and if we stay healthy, it will be a fun run to the playoffs. I live in MN, so I hear from the Vikes' fans all the time so nothing they throw at the wall really sticks. Felt a bit sorry for Eddie today, but TT wouldn't overpay him and now that looks like a good move. PAYING Daniels and Perry was the correct thing to do - and Kenny Clark is a 21 year ole MAN. Keep it up, Dave - don't know why they have to be such haters but it should not surprise anyone.

on September 10th, 2017 at 08:03pm

Well the defense showed up. That part was pretty awesome. Everything else looked as per usual. So, I guess that means a winning season. There still plenty of polishing needed on offense. I'm not sure anyone was surprise that Seattle scored when they were pressed into hurry up mode. McCarthy got a little greedy there before half. There were some strange calls and yep, they did seam to favor the Packers. I'll take and move on. One down , Fifteen to go. Hopefully the injury report is as short I think it will be.

on September 10th, 2017 at 08:27pm

When the zebras threw the flag 35 yards behind the play and then ejected the guy, I wish Seattle would have walked off the field and never come back. It's the only way to send a message to the NFL. My dream is for some team to just walk off the field in that joke of a stadium. That call was one for the ages. There were many others, but I don't know why I watch. It's like a drug I guess.

on September 10th, 2017 at 08:57pm

well it looks like OSSG and voice have given up on this blog and so am I. we used to talk about the games , strategy, and players, and even make predictions and give each other credit for getting something right or have fun if there wrong.. now there is not much left to read . but viking guys coming back again, since they have not lost yet. But when THC can't make one reference about (poor little larry) I know.. predicting , getting House, a week b4 he was even dropped, asking TT to pick up Brooks 2 weeks ago,, and he did 3 days later, and then making fun of me when i get the 1st rd pick right on King it's time to stop giving my insight and having some fun on here. when dave predicts 1 thing right or his son does, we here about it, cobb every draft, Not looking for pat on the back, but would be nice to know he reads something I write and confirms it when i/m right too.. or at least mention it. . Oh, how about saying Rodgers would get picked off with tipped pass 2 years ago against the rams, 1st pick like in 17 games.. not a word from THC.if he would have said that , i/m sure we would have heard about it. I forgot about picking Ripkowski 2 years ago in 6th rd, never heard a word, he praises others on here. so he may just not like my predictions or like my facts more then his own.. it's his site, so I know he can write what he wants, but it does make it Nicer to read with other posts I think. Good luck Packers, 23-20 today they win, Vikes lose 24-16 Go Packers for the last time.

on September 10th, 2017 at 11:53am

congrats Packer Rubes, Your defense's effort was completely unexpected! Who was that woefully unprepared Seattle team? How much concern do you have that they got to Aaron as much as they did? The Big take away from this game to me is: Now the NFC North and the NFC for that matter, goes through Lambeau and Rodgers.

on September 11th, 2017 at 02:09am

Can't wait to see Eddie Lacy jump into the stands so many times that they collapse under his weight. I know he's slimmed down a bit but after visiting all 7 Taco Bells in Green Bay (this is the actual number, look it up) he'll be right back to the size of your average cow/Wisconsin resident. The sooner that you accept that your defense sucks and that you didn't do nearly enough this off season to fix it the happier you'll be. I've accepted that about the Vikings offensive line, you can do it too. How does it feel to know that Rodgers, the only reason why you're not annual basement dwellers, is having a midlife crisis and is definitely leaving soon? An Instagram account and dating a soccer player in their early 20s screams "I'm moving to LA". You're screwed.

on September 8th, 2017 at 01:43pm

Mike McCarthy and the Packers fan base effectively fat-shamed Eddie Lacy out of Wisconsin... and that is ironic for all of the obvious reasons.

on September 8th, 2017 at 01:59pm

Oh Dave, how you inspire the hate. I need to train myself to not even read the 4 previous comment authors. Although Cane can sometimes appear reasonable, most of this is just trolls being trolls. After last nights game we are reminded what it looks like when a visiting team can spoil a home opener. I have long held that the minimum number of points the Offense needs to score to have been effective is 27 points and the maximum points the defense can allow is 17. I'm using that to judge your prediction. I think it also follows that Dave expects the Tight ends to be able to beat coverage. If they can't the two tight end set would seam to play into the Seahawks' corner depth issue. I like our chances and Ty probably needs 150 combined yards for us to win. Oh, how nice it is to have football back. Can't wait to read some insightful comments Sunday morning while I'm listening to the show. Go pack! Oh and one more thing, The person you are online is the person you are. If have express hate and disrespect hear, that is who you are. You can pretend that you are playing a character , or that it doesn't really matter because your semi-anonymous, but that is playing a false game. You deceive only yourself. Be moral. Be truthful. And I know it is two much to ask, but, be kind, not really for my sake. I can handle it, but for your own sake. You may all now roll your eyes.

on September 8th, 2017 at 02:42pm

I see scoring similar to the Thurs night pats chiefs game. Sea-slugs 42 Packers 27

on September 8th, 2017 at 11:54am

Hilarious that you somehow think that rookies will improve your horrendous defense. TT still refused to spend FA $ on any proven defensive talent. Davon House was so bad, he was allowed to walk by two teams prior. Lacy will be doing the Lambeau Lardo Leap all day. Seahags in a a blowout.

on September 8th, 2017 at 12:41pm

I wouldn't read too much into the result of the season opener either way. There's good reason to highlight this as a future playoff or championship game match-up based on the histories of these two but recent years have seen other clubs suddenly jump up and have exceptional seasons by postseason time. See Carolina in 2015 and Atlanta last year. But this is a good marquee for the league's opening Sunday. The Packers actually should have their best defense since the Super Bowl team of 2010. That's not saying they're the 2002 Bucs but the adds of linebackers Brooks and Odom and d-lineman Dial with development and improvement in the secondary leaves few excuses for Dom Capers going in to the year. The thinness of the o-line and the inexperience of the running backs should be the concerns. The Packers have lost 5 of their last 11 home playoff or championship games and won the Super Bowl as a road team in 7 years ago. So banking entirely on playing at Lambeau in January to pick up world title 14 is conditional. The Pack will make the playoffs for the 9th straight year, probably as NFC North title holder. But they will need more consistency from start to finish. Remember, two years ago they started 6-0 and finished 4-6. Last year they were 4-6 and finished 6-0. It'll take at least 12 and probably 13 wins for postseason home field. They won't get it that way. I call a win for Green Bay this week, similar to the 27-17 decision they won over Seattle in Week 2 of 2015.

on September 9th, 2017 at 06:18am

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