Packers Play First Road Game Monday At Seattle
By: Michael Robinson
Friday, September 21, 2012
The Green Bay Packers will play their first real game outside of Lambeau Field since last December when they visit the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
Green Bay is down to a 3-point favorite at most locales on the Don Best odds screen after opening at -4 ½. The total is 46 ½ and ESPN will have the coverage from CenturyLink Field at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
The Packers (1-1 straight-up and against the spread) opened with tough home games against San Francisco (30-22 loss) and Chicago (23-10 win). They will have had 10 full days of rest as the Bears game was on Thursday, September 13.
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was happy with the defensive effort against Chicago, sacking Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seven times and picking him off four times. Cutler had trash talked the Pack before the game, but got so flustered during it that he pushed one of his offensive linemen.
The Packers offense has yet to fully click at 22.5 PPG after a league-leading 35 PPG last season (the ‘over’ 11-5). The running game is currently tied-for-26th at 75.5 YPG with James Starks (turf toe) out and Cedric Benson carrying the load. Starks is questionable for Monday.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is still extremely dangerous, but his 3:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is far different than the incredible 45:6 he posted last year. It should help that star receiver Greg Jennings (groin) is probable after missing last game.
The Packers went 7-1 SU (4-4 ATS) on the road last year. The loss was 19-14 as 11-point favorites at Kansas City on December 18. That really stung as it ended their perfect season and was a prelude to the 37-20 home loss to the Giants in the divisional playoff round.
The Seahawks (1-1 SU and ATS) opened with a 20-16 loss at Arizona as 1-point favorites before surprising Dallas last week, 27-7 as 3-point home ‘dogs. Both games went ‘under’ the total and fit with coach Pete Carroll’s philosophy of solid defense and special teams, plus managing the offense.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson surprisingly beat out Matt Flynn and is averaging just 152 passing yards at 6.53 per attempt. The latter figure ranks 31st in the NFL. The rookie who played college ball at both North Carolina State and Wisconsin has a very good arm, but makes even New Orleans’ Drew Brees look tall at just 5-foot-11.
The Seahawks want to first-and foremost run the bruising Marshawn Lynch (207 yards) out of the two, tight-end set. That helps keep Wilson out of third-and-long situations and sets up play-action. He can also tuck it and run if the opportunity presents itself.
The Seattle defense is stout up front and only allowing 46 YPG rushing (ranked second). Benson will not scare them despite rushing for 81 yards last week. Look for the ‘D’ to take away Rodgers’ deep options, force him to throw it underneath, and then come up with some solid tackling.
Green Bay has started playing a lot of rookies on defense and while that worked against Chicago, it’s much different doing it in the hostile environment. That could be the biggest reason for the spread move in Seattle’s direction.
The Seahawks have one of the healthier teams in the league with just six players showing up on the Don Best injury report. Starting left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) is probable after missing last game.
They have played well on Monday Night Football historically, 5-0 SU and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five, and beat St. Louis 30-13 as 9-point home favorites last year.
The Packers won and covered the last three meetings between the teams, the latest in December 2009. The ‘over’ is 3-0-1 in the last four with 55.5 the average total points scored.