Packers 2017 schedule release: Game-by-game predictions
By Kenn Korb
Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks
I’m not sure if I need to say this, but the Seattle team we saw Green Bay play in 2016 is not what we should be expecting here.
Player-wise, they likely will be almost the same at all the key spots (as long as Richard Sherman doesn’t get traded) except for one: this time, they’ll have Earl Thomas back on the field. Remember, that game was the first for Seattle after Thomas’ season ended.
Without him, that defense cratered: in the 12 games before his season ended, the Seahawks gave up 16.2 points per game and allowed no 30+ point games; in the six games (including playoffs) after, they allowed 23.3 PPG and let up 30-plus three different times.
His return will make them much better on the back end, but there are still ways to attack them, and this offense has proven capable of doing so before. Even without Jordy Nelson in 2015, they managed to make enough plays to come away with a close win at home.
That is important here on two fronts.
First, Nelson proved last year that his knee is fully recovered from his ACL tear, and even with some early struggles he was able to lead the league in TD catches and become a top-10 quality receiver again. With another year away from that knee injury, he should have more consistent access to his deep receiving abilities on the outside, and allow Rodgers to have access to his full array of weaponry.
Second, this game being at home is a major boon for the team. While I do believe the Packers could win in Seattle, that field has been a house of horrors for them in the Russell Wilson era. In 2013 we saw the Fail Mary. The 2014 season began there with a blowout, and ended with the NFC Championship Game collapse. Green Bay hasn’t had to play there since, and things have fared much better for them, with the team going 2-0 against Seattle the past two meetings.
The biggest consistent differences between the games at both places has been that in Green Bay, the offense has managed to open things up more often, and the defense has been able to prevent Wilson from scrambling around and buying time better.
The differences aren’t so vast on a play-to-play scale, but the slight lean in Green Bay’s favor at home has been enough to give them the edge.
I see that happening again here.
Packers 26, Seahawks 20 (1-0)