Packers vs. Seahawks: 5 Things to Watch and a Prediction for Week 2

Five things to watch and a prediction for Green Bay's Week 2 showdown with the Seattle Seahawks. 

A week after dispatching an old rival in the season opener, the Green Bay Packers (1-0) will host a rematch of sorts against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field for Week 2. Seattle came back from a 19-7 deficit late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game to beat the Packers last January. 

Here are five things to watch and a prediction for Green Bay’s Week 2 showdown with the team’s biggest competition for conference supremacy:

 

1. Lock(ett) Him Down

The Packers really like Ty Montgomery, the team’s third-round pick and primary kick returner. Seattle feels similarly about Tyler Lockett, a fellow third-rounder and the most explosive special teamer of the early 2015 season. The former Kansas State star returned two kicks (one punt, one kick) for touchdowns during the preseason, and he opened Week 1 with a 57-yard punt return for a score against the Rams. He’s a dynamic playmaker, despite weighing just 182 pounds. Coordinator Ron Zook better have a good plan for containing the rookie returner Sunday night, because he can turn a game in a flash. It’d be a shame if special teams lost the Packers another game to Seattle. 

 

2. Matchup Problems

Like most defenses, Green Bay doesn’t matchup well with either running back Marshawn Lynch or tight end Jimmy Graham. Matt Forte and the Bears ran over the Packers run defense in Week 1, primarily with edge runs that forced the Packers inside linebackers to make plays covering ground. Forte was also difficult to tackle, but no back is harder to get on the ground than Lynch—who rushed for 267 yards and three scores in two games against Green Bay last season. Graham is another big problem, especially if Seattle finds ways to get the mammoth tight end in matchups against linebackers or Green Bay’s smallish cornerbacks. His three career games have resulted in 16 catches and two touchdowns. Lynch and Graham could run circles around Dom Capers’ defense. 

 

3. Cobb’s Chance

The Packers wouldn’t have paid Randall Cobb $40 million this offseason unless they felt he could handle being a full-fledged No. 1 receiver. He’ll get a chance to prove he’s that guy Sunday night, when he’ll likely see a bunch of Richard Sherman. Once a locked-in left cornerback, Sherman is now being moved around to shadow receivers. Cobb should be his newest target. Sherman is a tremendous player, and he’s played exceedingly well in games against the Packers. Still, he’s not invincible. The Packers have to find ways to manufacture ways for Cobb to get open, as former NFL safety Matt Bowen laid out in detail here. Aaron Rodgers needs Cobb to be a factor. 

 

4. Rodgers at Home

Aaron Rodgers produces incredible numbers, but you still run across some stats about No. 12 that make you shake your head. Case in point: Over 14 games and 411 passes at Lambeau Field since 2013, Rodgers has thrown 37 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while producing a passer rating of 128.5. He hasn’t been intercepted in a regular-season game at Lambeau Field since December of 2012. Meanwhile, the Packers have averaged almost 32 points a game when Rodgers starts and finishes the contest at home over the last two seasons. Seattle will be one of his toughest home tests in recent memory, but Rodgers has been so superlative at Lambeau Field that you now just expect more greatness. You’d also have to think the NFL MVP has a blue-and-neon monkey he’d like to remove from his back, pronto. 

 

5. Barclay for Bulaga?

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga won’t play after injuring his knee in practice this week. Losing him mid-week beats mid-game, as was the case in Seattle during last year’s season opener. But don’t discount the potentially massive impact of not having Bulaga in the lineup. Defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are one of the best edge duos in football, and Bulaga’s backup—most likely Don Barclay—is coming off ACL surgery and a nightmare preseason. The Packers crumbled up front after losing Bulaga in Seattle last year, and he came back and played really well against Avril and Bennett in the conference title game. Expect the Packers to give Barclay plenty of help. Unlike Bulaga, he’s just not capable of handling the Seahawks edge pressure for 60 minutes on his own. Barclay self-destructing could shift the game’s Seattle’s way in a hurry. 

 

Prediction: Packers 28, Seahawks 24 (1-0)

Not having Bulaga available is a game-changer, but how can you bet against a healthy Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field? 

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Comments (15)

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jh9's picture

September 19, 2015 at 04:32 pm

Damn!!! Just read a report that Bulaga is having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He'll be out at least a month.
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/25308627/report-packers-rt-...

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Tundraboy's picture

September 19, 2015 at 04:50 pm

"Seattle will be one of his toughest home tests in recent memory, but Rodgers has been so superlative at Lambeau Field that you now just expect more greatness. You’d also have to think the NFL MVP has a blue-and-neon monkey he’d like to remove from his back, pronto."

You got that right. I think we will see that this week.

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 19, 2015 at 04:50 pm

I think the Packers will be forced to try someone other than Barclay before Bulaga returns. He just can't play the position.

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NickPerry's picture

September 19, 2015 at 08:34 pm

You're right Mark, the thing is they knew Barclay isn't a very capable backup in the preseason. During the draft I kept thinking, common Ted, use one of those 6th rounders on La'el Collins and you have his rights and eventual starter or backup for sure. No matter what you have a Tackle that is much, much, better than any back-up and possibly Bakhtiari for a 6th round pick. That and taking Bulagas injury history into account it would have been a better pick than Ringo, Ripper, and Backman combined.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 19, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Yeah. But Collins was threatening not toreport and just entering next years draft. He wanted to choose who he'd lay for and take the shorter contract that UFAs get. Plus, he was being questioned in relation to a murder investigation. No one is going to draft a guy who has that kind of baggage. He didn't sign with the Cowboys until after he was cleared.

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NickPerry's picture

September 20, 2015 at 05:46 am

He had pretty much been cleared by day 3 so it turns out he really didn't have much baggage at at. I highly doubt he doesn't report to the Packers for a tad over 2 million dollars for 4 years. To me it's worth a 6th round pick on a team so talented most "Normal" 6th rounders might not stick.

Ripper has turned out to be a pretty good special teamer.

Ringo was pretty much a no show and is one the practice squad just because he was drafted.

Backman didn't really display much at all, he's on because he was the best of 3 poor options.

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dobber's picture

September 20, 2015 at 10:48 pm

He played pretty well, tonight.

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The TKstinator's picture

September 19, 2015 at 05:42 pm

A 5-11 cornerback is not smallish.
However, a 6-7 tight end makes lots of defenders look smallish.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

September 19, 2015 at 06:50 pm

Well could we have better news this year. I am not sure how much more of this I can take. I know tomorrow will tell us what the rest of the year is going to be. Can you say back up back ups and so on. Practice squad might be real big this year.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 19, 2015 at 10:13 pm

At least it isn't IR. I'm trying to stay positive.

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Mojo's picture

September 20, 2015 at 12:19 am

Don't know why, but I'm more concerned with Justin Houston next week on ten days rest than with Avril. Think Avril's best days are behind him, Houston's are right now.

This is going to be real interesting the next month or so. Think we're going to see a lot of Lacy and Starks. Plus more Kuhn as ARod last line of defense, dumpoff target and backfield chipper. His veteran knowledge will be more appreciated by the coaching staff than ever.

Will ARod go with slants and check-downs more?Quick passes (TE's better be ready), the pistol formation? Could see a lot of variations since QB1 can do it all. With Jordy gone, they'll probably limit their deep passes anyway.

Take the chances when they're there. It will be up to ARod, who has great latitude with play calling, to play smart. We know he has the physical gifts, but I think he'll relish the chess game.

The coaches always say they need to find new way's to keep him challenged. He should be up to it and it will be a great lift to the team when BB comes back. They should be fine.

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NickPerry's picture

September 20, 2015 at 05:53 am

Excellent point Mojo. Just think of all those that wanted to get rid of Kuhn too. I feel a lot better if Kuhn is back there with Rodgers than a rookie.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 20, 2015 at 05:21 am

Why we are always talking about Packers "weaknesses"? Packers have more strengths then Seattle, so do not worry. Enjoy!

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Archie's picture

September 20, 2015 at 09:20 am

Packers have one strength - #12.

If 12 gets us to 3-0 it will be his greatest feat yet, short of winning the SB way back when.

I worry that 12 may get injured - ace WR gone, best blocking tackle gone, Cobb playing hobbled and a defense that can't tackle my grandmother. And we are facing the Beast, Jimmy Graham and R Wilson, not to mention rookie return sensation Tyler Lockett. Thank god there is no Chancellor and thank god their OL sucks. Can we sack the nifty Wilson? Does the Beast need an OL playing the Pack defense? If the answer to both questions is no, GBP will be in deep doo-doo.

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Mario Willis's picture

September 20, 2015 at 10:26 am

Barclay is no longer an NFL player if he ever really was. I seriously think he is a liability of monumental proportions.

Aaron doesn't want to get hurt but Eddie Lacy or Kuhn can be assigned to help Barclay but it changes the amount of plays we can call. Our offensive line is so fragile from a chemistry standpoint.

Barclay doesn't seem to figure out what is going on till after it happens and I watched him get pushed around like a Flubber in a Judy Blume book.

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