After avoiding an 0-2 start, one weight is lifted off the collective shoulders of the Seattle Seahawks and their fans.
Another one awaits, however, in their biggest test yet.
Two weeks into the NFL season, 20 teams sit at 1-1, including the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. What do the Seahawks have to do to come away with a win on Monday night and keep themselves in the race for the NFC West?
In their first two regular season hit outs, the Seahawks have suffered from a severe case of slow starts. The defense has barely had time to leave the field before Russell Wilson and company are forced to punt. A fresher defense would have been better placed to stop both second quarter touchdowns against the Cardinals and Cowboys.
It all comes down to the offense.
In the first two games this season, Wilson has failed to score a touchdown inside the first half. This is a bigger concern for the Seahawks because they are a different team coming from behind—and not in a good way.
Against the Packers, it will be crucial for Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell to prepare an offensive unit that can turn strong second halves into complete-game performances.
Showcasing one of the best secondaries in football is Seattle’s strength, but they will be coming up against arguably the strongest receiver core in football in the Green Bay Packers.
Whoever wins this battle will define the outcome of the game.
The biggest weakness on the defense is the pass rush. The ‘Hawks have only 2 sacks this season, which is the second-fewest in the NFL (along with four other teams). It is imperative that they don’t give Aaron Rodgers enough time to make passes downfield on his own watch.
The better they do this, the less time Rodgers will spend on the field. THAT will win Seattle this game.
The biggest question leading up to Monday night is how long Seattle’s O-line can give rookie Russell Wilson to throw the ball.
Packers LB Clay Matthews will be their biggest threat after getting off the blocks quick this season. He carded 3.5 sacks against the Bears and has tallied six this season.
The Seahawks will be confident, though, after completely shutting down the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware, holding him to zero sacks.
Their line should be boosted, as The News Tribune is reporting OT Russell Okung is expected to be able to play.
In Week 1, the 49ers' Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards against Green Bay. Marshawn Lynch will have to at least mirror or better Gore’s performance to put the Seahawks in contention and take some of the pressure off Russell Wilson.
Lynch ignited Beast Mode in the second half against the Cowboys and finished the game with 122 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Whether or not Lynch can repeat this performance at CenturyLink Field will depend on which Packers defense shows up.
It is hard to imagine CenturyLink Field getting any louder, but if one thing could do it, it will be a Monday Night Football game.
Monday night has treated Seattle well in the past. This will be the franchise’s 26th appearance in the spectacle. With 17 wins and just eight losses, they hold the NFL record (source: Seahawks.com). To increase this to 18 wins and retain the record, the Seahawks fans' deafening cheers will have to put Green Bay out of sync.
Put bluntly, if the 12th man does his job, it will make the Packers' night hell.