The Seattle Seahawks aren't likely to get a warm welcome from the Cheeseheads at Lambeau Field on Friday night when the Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of last season's infamous "Fail Mary" game.
For the players, however, this game is all about the "now." Every single player hitting the field for both teams will be focused on either getting sharp for the regular season or on doing enough to impress their coaches and make the team.
Both NFC contenders made it to the playoffs last season, but were defeated by the two teams that ended up going to the NFC Championship Game. This season, expectations for the Seahawks and Packers are identical—both are in "Super-Bowl-or-bust" mode, and rightly so.
The Seahawks rival perhaps only the San Francisco 49ers in fielding the deepest roster from top to bottom of any team in the NFL. Many experts expect Seattle to overtake the 49ers as NFC West champions this year.
The Packers are annual favorites to win the NFC North, and this year's squad looks ready for another Super Bowl run. Aaron Rodgers, in my opinion, is the best all-around quarterback in the NFL and if his offensive line can protect him, he'll light up opposing secondaries all year long.
Here's what you need to know about Friday night's Seahawks-Packers preseason game.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
When: Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. ET
Live Streaming: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Lines (via Covers)
Over/Under: 43 pts.
Spread: Packers (+2)
Given the way Seattle has dispatched the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos so easily in the first two preseason games, it's not surprising that oddsmakers see the Seahawks winning this game.
That said, I find it hard to believe that these two teams will only score 43 points.
Take the Seahawks and the over in this game.
Injury Report (via ESPN.com)
- No Injuries to Report (active players)
- Tramon Williams, CB: Questionable (knee)
- Jordy Nelson, WR: Questionable (knee)
- Datone Jones, DE: Questionable (knee)
- Casey Hayward, CB: Questionable (hamstring)
- Charles Johnson, WR: Questionable (knee)
- Randall Cobb, WR: Probable (biceps)
Seahawks' Player to Watch: Russell Wilson, Quarterback
Second-year quarterback Russell Wilson has looked sharp this preseason, and as Pro Football Focus illustrated, he improved throughout the season last year:
For those who have watched Wilson from his early days at North Carolina State, it's no surprise that the diminutive signal-caller is finding success in the NFL.
Blessed with a strong, accurate arm, athleticism and speed usually reserved for running backs, a brilliant mind and a proven ability to lead, Wilson has a chance to build an incredible legacy with the Seahawks.
Given the team's ability to pound the ball on the ground and play lights-out defense, Wilson wasn't asked to do a whole lot as a passer early last season. But, as alluded to earlier, he earned the trust of his coaching staff last year with his stellar play as the season wore one.
It's scary to think how good he could be if the arrow continues pointing up in the years to come.
Packers' Player to Watch: Eddie Lacy, Running Back
The Packers feature one of the league's most explosive passing games, led by Rodgers and an incredibly talented group of receivers.
Opposing defenses have been able to get after Rogers with regularity, however, partly due to the fact that Green Bay has lacked a strong running game for the past few years.
Last year, the Packers ranked No. 22 in the NFL in yards per carry, averaging 3.9 yards and rushing for just nine touchdowns. Teams didn't have to dedicate extra defenders to stop the run and weren't scared to rush the passer.
As a result, Rodgers was the most sacked quarterback in the league last year, getting taken down 51 times.
Lacy was drafted in the second round out of Alabama, however, as general manager Ted Thompson decided to do something about the lack of production at the running back position.
In his first action of the preseason in Week 2, Lacy looked the part of a workhorse back, rushing for 40 yards on eight carries and making one catch for 11 yards.
The Packers will be counting on the rookie in 2013. A balanced approach is needed on offense in order to protect Rodgers and you can be sure Lacy will get plenty of chances to shine on Friday night.
If Lacy can pound the rock effectively against the Seahawks' front seven, then Rodgers will have the time he needs to find open receivers against Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary.
However, if Lacy can't make headway against Seattle's tough defensive front, Rogers will likely be under pressure all night long.
Russell Wilson doesn't have to worry about his running backs. Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael will find lanes and move the chains.
In the end, Seattle's depth will be the deciding factor. Many of the players who end up getting cut by the Seahawks in the next couple of weeks will end up signing with other teams. Friday night''s game will be a great chance for them to shine.
Final Score: Seahawks win, 35-27
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