Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be headed to the coffee capital of the world in Seattle Washington to face off against the Seahawks for the Monday night football game (8.30pm ET, Monday Sept 24).
Both the Packers and Seahawks find themselves at 1-1 on the season, desperately wishing they could get back the game that eluded them.
This match-up will carry a lot of weight as the Packers try to return once again the to the playoffs and the Seahawks under second year coach Pete Carroll try to prove they are for real.
Can the Packers Defense Pressure Rookie QB Russell Wilson?
The rookie quarterback out of Wisconsin surprised many when he fought in preseason to wrestle the starting job away from Matt Flynn. Russell performed incredibly well and showed Coach Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks brass that they might have found their future in this 23-year-old Virginia native.
Although Wilson has not been as good as he was in the preseason and training camp, he is putting up numbers that are quite respectable for an NFL rookie drafted in the third round.
On the season Wilson has passed for 304 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and has a completion percentage just slightly above 61. He has shown the ability to create plays when the pocket collapses, running for 48 yards on twelve carries this season.
Wilson is not the type of guy that is going to wow you with his numbers. He isn’t going to air it out like Colts rookie Andrew Luck or ground and pound like Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III. What he can do is play the quarterback position.
The biggest concern for Wilson against the Packers is not their defense as a whole, although this year the team is ranked second in opponent’s passing yards a game giving up just 132.5 on average. No, his biggest issue could come in how the Packers present their front line of attack.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
-120 Packers -3pts; +100 Seahawks +3pts
Bovada (all US except Maryland, Utah, NY, Washington):
-105 Packers -3.5pts; -115 Seahawks +3.5pts
Bet365 (for UK & all non-USA residents):
5/6 Packers -3pts; 1/1 (evens) Seahawks +3pts
Against the Arizona Cardinals in week one, Wilson was a very tentative quarterback when the team sent five or more pass rushers. His accuracy suffered as he completed just 6-of-18 passes for 47 yards. When the team sent less than five on the pass rush, Wilson flourished completing 12-of-16 for 106 yards.
Matched against a Packers D that boasts some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Wilson will likely see more of the same. In fact this season the Packers, led by Clay Matthews and his six sacks, have pressured the QB with blitz packages and five man push rushes over 37% of the time. This is good enough for tenth best in the NFL.
Can the Seattle Safeties Continue to Have Success Against Aaron Rodgers?
When it came to the defensive secondary, the Seahawks had one of the best in the league last season. They sent all but one of their starting defensive backs to the pro bowl and together the three combined to frustrate the opposition’s passing game quite frequently.
At 6’4, Brandon Browner was an imposing safety for Seattle in 2011. He played at both the free and strong positions and his height allowed him to play solid outside press coverage.
At just 23-years-old but with three years NFL experience, Earl Thomas is one of the veterans of this secondary. He plays the free safety position and had two interceptions and 98 tackles last season. He has garnered the respect from opposing QB Aaron Rodgers who praised him as “a big-time player.”
Finishing off the top three is the NFL’s biggest, most physical and most imposing strong safety in 6’2, 232-pound Kam Chancellor. Chancellor who made his first pro bowl in his third year in the league in 2011, had 97 tackles, one sack and four interceptions last season.
So far in 2012, all three of these guys and their teammate Richard Sherman, the only Seattle safety not to make the 2011 pro bowl, have performed well. Sherman has eight tackles and an interception on the season as he picked off Tony Romo during the Seahawks 27-7 beat down of the Cowboys in week two.
Although Rodgers is still one of the NFL’s best when it comes to the QB position, he is one of many quarterbacks who, so far in 2012, have not backed up their monster 2011 numbers. His biggest change has come in throwing the ball downfield as Rodgers has a 13.4 QBR in that category this season. He has two interceptions when the ball travels 15 feet or more and has only completed 9-of-35 of these long ball attempts.
Part of this is due to the Packers offense being a bit banged up. Rodger’s number one wide receiver last season in Greg Jennings has been limited in 2012. He missed the Packers week two win against the Chicago Bears and is questionable going into the Monday night match-up against Seattle.
If Jennings misses the game, Rodgers loses a solid offensive threat who last year caught 67 receptions for 949 yards and nine touchdowns. Jennings gives Rodgers that big play threat that he really doesn’t have with Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver. Without him on the field, Seattle’s physical corners also don’t have to worry about doubling him. The four safeties can play man coverage or zone and without Jennings, they shouldn’t have to worry too much about a downfield threat.
Packers v Seahawks Betting Pick
Green Bay comes into this game off a solid win against the Bears. The front line absolutely pummeled Chicago QB Jay Cutler literally into the ground. They sacked the quarterback an incredible seven times forcing a loss of 52 yards. They also intercepted Cutler four times.
For Green Bay, this was a very good defensive performance. On the season, their defense is ranked second best in opponent’s passing yards. They have given up 140 rush yards a game, ranking them 27. Seattle’s running back Marshawn Lynch is once again having a great season, helping Seattle to the seventh best rushing offense – averaging a little under 150 rush yards a game on the season.
I expect Seattle to put up a fight as they are much improved and a more physical team this year. They may not have the most reliable answer with their QB and his targets as their passing game is the worst in the NFL, but their defense has been in the top 15 for both opponent’s passing and rushing yards.
The spread is currently set at -3pts or -3.5pts in favor of Green Bay, which in most circumstances would be considered a pretty small margin. Seattle has done enough to gain respect but the Packers offense still has the potential to be lethal. Take Green Bay to beat the spread. The Seahawks defense may be underrated, but at the end of the day, Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers.
Betting Pick Summary: Back Green Bay Packers -3pts with BetOnline Sportsbook (all US states accepted) @ -120 or -3.5pts with Bovada (all except: NY, Utah, Washington, Maryland) @ -105. Non-USA residents bet with Bet365 (-3pts @ 5/6).