The Packers defense will have to show improvement over last season. Maybe an entire year with these two guys will help. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Packers home opener could set season's tone

 

Stopping Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be crucial when the Packers face Washington in their home opener Sept. 15. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports photograph

 

Most everyone is gearing up for the opening weekend of the NFL season when the Green Bay Packers return to the site of their 2012 demise in San Francisco – but for me the true tone-setter for the 2013 regular season will come in the team’s home opener Sunday, Sept. 15.

From all indications, Washington Redskins sophomore quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III will be ready to play by week one, so he will be more than ready when he brings his running and passing attack into Lambeau.

The Packers can’t afford to see Colin Kaepernick doing this in week one of the NFL season. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Of course, the bigger storyline for the Packers leading into the season will be the opener at San Francisco – it’s the Packers vs. 49ers in the continuation of their long-running series; it’s the Packers first test in stopping Colin Kaepernick and the Niners’ vaunted read-option; it’s the debut of the Packers rookies in a new-look offense that promises strength on the ground.

It should be a game for the ages, if everything falls into place.

Win or lose, it will also set up the Packers home opener against the Redskins as an even more important game, in my eyes. The Packers, if the come into it after a loss in San Francisco, will face a must-win at home. Yes, every game in the NFL is a must-win, but if the Packers are facing an 0-2 record, it could change the team’s outlook that day and for the rest of the way.

I can’t imagine an Aaron Rodgers-led team at 0-2, but this is the NFL and anything can happen – especially when the team is going to be facing two of the best young rising stars in the first two weeks. We all know what Kaepernick did to the Packers in last season’s playoffs. If he does it again, huge flags will be rising over the Packers defense with the target squarely on the back of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

In addition, if RGIII dominates in week two, all conditions will be off the table … but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Here’s what I would like to see: Win or lose in San Francisco in the opener, I would like to see the Packers play a competitive game with a chance to win. There cannot be a blowout.

That would increase the Packers’ incentive to win their home opener – a game that could propel the team into another highly successful season.

It all starts with stopping the opponents’ running attacks and getting good production from their new offensive backfield.

If all that comes together, expect the Packers to easily be 2-0 and 1-1 at worst.

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins

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