MILWAUKEE The Seahawks’ first game day of the 2017 season dawned here in Wisconsin sunny and pleasant.
The status of Thomas Rawls will be the game-time decision to watch up the road at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Coach Pete Carroll said the team would take the choice of whether to play or sit Seattle’s lead running back up to Sunday afternoon just before kickoff. Rawls hasn’t practiced or played since he got a high-ankle sprain following two carries anf 5 yards rushing in the first preseason game Aug. 13.
If Rawls can’t go -- or even if he can -- Eddie Lacy seems ready to run. Or at least he should be, as you can see below in the keys to this challenging Seahawks opener.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (0-0) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-0)
Sunday 1:25 p.m., Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
TV: KCPQ Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Green Bay holds a 10-7 series edge in the regular season. The Packers have won two of the three playoff meetings, both at Lambeau. That includes Dec. 11, a 38-10 win in which Russell Wilson threw four interceptions and the Seahawks were without three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. That and Green Bay’s 27-17 win at Lambeau in 2015 are the two largest margins of defeat for Seattle since 2011. The Seahawks have a seven-game losing streak in Green Bay, including playoffs. Their last win there was on Nov. 1, 1999. Jon Kitna threw two touchdown passes for the Seahawks and Brett Favre threw four interceptions in the Packers’ 27-7 loss. That Monday night was new Seattle coach Mike Holmgren’s first game back in Green Bay after leaving the Packers.
Line: Packers by 3.
The return of Earl Thomas: Amid all the stories and injuries and fretting about the offensive line, the biggest–and best--difference between the Seahawks of last December and January and today’s is No. 29 is back at free safety. The numbers when he’s there and when he’s not are staggering. This is the first time in the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks have played at Green Bay with their entire starting secondary healthy and on the field. Simply put, Thomas being fully back from a broken leg in December gives the Seahawks their best chance to win in Green Bay in a decade. He’s that big a factor all over the field.
Take advantage of his motivation: Of all the games the Seahawks should try to capitalize on the addition of Eddie Lacy this offseason, it’s this one. The Packers let him go after season-ending ankle surgery in October—and two 1,100-yard rushing seasons before that. Thomas Rawls is coming off a high-ankle sprain and hasn’t played since the preseason opener Aug. 13. Time for the Seahawks to see how much of a coup that one-year, prove-it contract they gave their 250-pound masher back may be.
Help the kid: As sure as there’s dairy products in Wisconsin, Aaron Rodgers will target Seahawks rookie right cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Perhaps 15 or more times. Rodgers in the many recent meetings between these teams has avoided Richard Sherman on the other side. Look for the Seahawks to help Griffin, perhaps with Thomas shading to his side or maybe even dime packages of a sixth defensive back, Bradley McDougald roaming on the right. Then again, the way the Seahawks talk about Griffin’s beyond-his-years poise, they say he doesn’t need much help.
The pick: Rodgers is the league’s all-time leader in passer rating for quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts. He is 56-15 in his career regular-season games at home. He has 161 touchdown passes, just 30 interceptions and a passer rating of 109.4 in those 71 games in Green Bay. This is the toughest opening task on the road there is in the NFL. If the Seahawks pull this off they could be 6-0 in mid-October. Packers 24, Seahawks 20.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
3 Russell Wilson RB 5-11 215 sixth
He’s thrown 10 interceptions in his last 3 games vs. the Packers. Will his iffy line give him time to throw in this one?
26 Shaquill Griffin CB 6-0 198 rookie
He knows Aaron Rodgers is coming at him. His reaction: "I’m excited…it’s a situation that I want to be in."
27 Eddie Lacy RB 5-11 250 fifth
His Lambeau return is the best place for him to show off what Seattle got—and what Green Bay discarded
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
12 Aaron Rodgers QB 6-5 244 13th
Seahawks defense respect the overlooked: how good he is avoiding sacks, extending plays all over the field
80 Martellus Bennett TE 6-6 275 10th
Emotional reunion this weekend with his brother Michael—and then a new Packers issue for Seahawks to deal with down the middle.
20 Kevin King CB 6-3 200 rookie
2nd-rd pick from UW many wanted Seattle to draft is back from an August groin injury. Damarious Randall may start instead