Packers vs. Seahawks: The view from the West Coast

The last time the Packers faced the Seahawks – in December of 2009 – Matt Flynn was slinging passes for Green Bay. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Keith Myers over at the 12thmanrising.com, the Seattle Seahawks fan site under the fansided.com umbrella of NFL sites.

We had the chance to exchange questions to get a feel of how things are looking out on the West Coast. Clearly, this is a team on the rise – one that will surely be a tough test for the Packers come Monday night.
Keith gives us a bit of an insight into why this team is showing vast improvement. He talks about the Seahawks’ rookie QB Russell Wilson, the pounding run game with Marshawn Lynch and the team’s young, smothering defense.
I also had a chance to answer questions posted by Keith and will post our exchange here on Lombardiave.com tomorrow.
So, without further adieu, here is our exchange.
Q. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has impressed in the early going. Given that us folks here in Wisconsin know a thing or two about both Wilson and Matt Flynn, tell us something we don’t know about each of them.

A. Considering I don’t know what you know, I’ll have to do my best. How about this:
Matt Flynn played well enough in the training camp and the pre-season to win the starting job, Wilson was just better. The Seahawks really liked what Flynn showed, and would have been happy to have him as the starter right now had Wilson not simply electrified the team with his own performance.
As for Wilson, we’re still learning who and what he really is, but one thing we’ve learned is that his height (5-10 5/8) hasn’t proven to be factor at this level. He plays like he’s 5 inches taller than he actually is.
Q. We all know the Seahawks are young and rising. Do they have a legitimate shot at a division crown and will they even have a chance against the Niners when they meet?

A. Last season, the 49ers barely scratched together enough to win against the Seahawks in both of their meetings. One required 2 special teams TDs by Ted Ginn, and the other required Tarvaris Jackson to melt down at the end of the game. Neither should be a problem this year, as the Seahawks have greatly improved their special teams, and no longer rely on Jackson. I expect both games to be very close.
As for winning the division, the Seahawks have a shot, but with a rookie QB it’s tough to believe they will get there. You never know with the way injuries can quickly change a team’s dynamic in this league, but a wild card berth into the playoffs appears to be a much more reasonable goal for the Seahawks this year.
Q. The Packers have had issues stopping the run. Do you feel Pete Carroll will stick with the run throughout the game and use Wilson’s skills only when  needed?

A. That will be the plan, and it’ll be up to the Packers to change that plan. The Pack will either have to stop Lynch, or score enough points that the Seahawks have to pass the ball in order to try and keep up. If neither of those things happens …
Q. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that the Seahawks smothering defense will be “a challenge.” Is this a simple tip of the hat or will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have difficulty moving the ball?

A. We’ll have to wait and see. This is going to be a huge test for the Seahawks defense. They’ve looked like they have the makings of being a truly special unit, but they also haven’t been challenged. Opposing teams are only averaging 2.6 yards per attempt – which is incredible. Tony Romo and the Cowboys abandoned the run completely trying to go away from the strength of the Seahawks defense, and still only managed 7 points.
The Packers have a uniquely elite offense. If the Seahawks can shut them down then we will know we are dealing with a special defense here. If not, then I think Rodgers will expose any weakness that the Cowboys and Cardinals weren’t able to show.
Q. Give us your take on the game and, of course, we would like to see your final score prediction.

A. As you can probably tell, this is a strength against strength matchup of the Packers elite offense vs the Seahawks defense. I expect the game to be lower scoring than most analysts will predict, since the Seahawks should be able to run and ball and keep Rodgers and company on the sideline.
I also expect the game to favor the Packers early, but to favor the Seahawks late. The longer the Seahawks can keep it close the more likely I think they’ll win. Unless the Pack gets the lead up over 14 points early, the Seahawks will have a shot to win this one at the end.
Unfortunately though, I just can’t pick a rookie QB to out-duel Rodgers in this one.
Packers 24 – 20 Seahawks

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