Earlier in the offseason I predicted that this game would happen. It was just too juicy, too good to pass up. The only storyline that could rival the NFL kickoff game would be the last game of the season with huge playoff implications.
I thought that was too risky, however. Who knows where these two teams will end up at the end of a 16-game regular season. One or both might be playing for nothing at the end of the year. No, nothing rivals the highly-anticipated first real matchup of the season.
The Seahawks are defending Super Bowl Champions looking to repeat. The Green Bay Packers are trying to prove that they have entered into a new window of opportunity under Aaron Rodgers and Co. Each team is looking to make a statement on Thursday night and only one will write the story that they want to tell.
Packers Nation is already a fire kindled. The ashes of Sept. 24, 2012, may burn low, but those flames will be stoked and reignited Thursday night.
Those old wounds aren’t the only ones that are adding fuel to the fire this time around, however.
Storylines abound for this marquee matchup …
This is the first time the Packers are returning to Century Link Field since the infamous “Fail Mary” debacle of replacement ref lore. It will forever be burned into the NFL history books and go down as one of the most unusual, disastrous, confusing and down-right-ridiculous endings to an NFL game … ever.
Russell Wilson threw an interception that was ruled a touchdown, Golden Tate committed the most egregious offensive pass interference that was left uncalled, a replacement official was too cowardly to change the call and the whole NFL world was turned upside down.
Pete Carroll and the entire the Seahawks organization still hold that everything was called and done fairly that fateful night. Now, what can you really expect from them, right? To come out on National TV and say that the refs got it wrong and that they didn’t deserve the win?
No, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would subject themselves to that kind of horror. But to be so blatant and so over-the-top about winning “fair and square” as if they never actually SAW a replay of that night?
Not only is it arrogant and cheap, it’s just disrespectful to everyone with eyes and ears and the good sense to use them. Carroll, Russell Wilson and other Seahawks players were interviewed by Packers’ media a couple days ago and are still singing the same praises for Wayne Elliott and Lance Easley and their moronic (no) call.
It is no secret that the Seattle Seahawks show a propensity for trash talk. In fact, they revel in the fact that they can talk their way into opponents’ heads. Richard Sherman is the forerunner of it, but other guys get involved with it as well; Bruce Irvin being the latest to grace the news desk with his sarcastic quotes and witticisms.
With J.C. Tretter possibly headed for short term IR, it is left to rookie center out of Ohio State, Corey Linsley, to anchor the Packers’ offensive line against the hard-hitting Seahawks’ defense. Packers coaches and fellow teammates don’t seem worried. As with fellow offensive lineman, second-year man David Bakhtiari, sometimes you just have to hit the ground running.
Irvin and Co. say that they are looking forward to exploiting the young center on Thursday night. In fact, his exact words were: “I’m going to pray for him. It’s going to be a long, hard night.”
Not to mention, Seahawks DB Jeremy Lane thinks that he’s going to have a fine time handling the likes of Randall Cobb. Yes, with such talent as Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin (huh?) surrounding him in practice daily, why should he concern himself with the Randall Cobbs of the world? He’s just the “poor man’s Percy Harvin” anyway, as he was so aptly dubbed two seasons ago.
His skill set couldn’t possibly give Lane any pause or garnish any of his respect. Just manhandle Cobb at the line of scrimmage and you should be good, right? Well, I do so hope we see an up the seam where Rodgers hits Cobb perfectly on the shoulder pads for a trip to the house, with Lane trudging along in the background.
The Seahawks aren’t expecting anything different from the Packers this time around. They fully expect an eight-sack night and a hop, skip and a jump into the endzone against a porous offensive line and a stagnant defense incapable of righting the ship.
Well, (I know it’s cliché but …) talk is cheap.
If the Green Bay Packers locker room ignites the way that its fan base has on Thursday night, the 12th Man will have to find a whole lot of words to string together that will be worth the W that they seek at home, week one.