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Aaron Rodgers and crew travel west for Monday Night Football.
Two teams looking to build on big Week 2 wins will clash tonight when the Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. After losing the season-opener at home to the 49ers, the Packers rebounded last week with a resounding defensive effort in a 23-10 victory over the division-rival Bears. Seattle also lost its opener to the surprising Arizona Cardinals, but Pete Carroll’s bunch spanked the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field last Sunday by a 27-7 mark.
When the Green Bay Packers have the ball:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an amazing MVP campaign last year, but he has not been able to establish quite the same passing rhythm this season. Green Bay has faced two top defenses so far, and a tough Seahawks unit will present a challenge as well. The Packers offensive line will need to do a better job of protecting Rodgers, who has been sacked eight times in two games. The good news for Green Bay is that star receiver Greg Jennings should be play after missing last week’s game against the Bears with an injured groin.
The Seahawks defense has been very solid this season, especially against the run. Seattle has only given up a total of 92 rushing yards on 36 carries, for a stingy average on 2.6 yards per run. Cedric Benson and the Packers run game has not been much of a threat in two games, so the Seahawks will look to put Rodgers in difficult down-and-distance situations. Seattle only has two sacks in two games, and that will need to improve against the Green Bay passing attack.
When the Seattle Seahawks have the ball:
The Seahawks have been fairly conservative on offense with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson getting acclimated to the NFL game. Seattle will continue to use the power running game with Marshawn Lynch, who has totaled 207 yards and two touchdowns this season. He battled back issues this week, but the sixth-year runner practiced Saturday and should be a go tonight. Wilson will need to avoid turnovers against a gambling Packers defense and play well on third down.
The Packers defense has given up an alarming 280 rushing yards this year, and improvement in that area will be a critical factor against Lynch and the Seahawks. If Green Bay can control the Seattle run game, there will be ample opportunities to force the youthful Wilson into challenging predicaments. The Packers already have 11 sacks this year, and generating that type of pressure on a rookie quarterback could lead to turnovers and big plays.
This contest should come down to the play of Rodgers and the Packers passing game. If Green Bay is effective throwing the ball on first down, Rodgers can create a successful offensive balance that will keep the raucous Seattle crowd out of the game. With Jennings back, look for the Packers to rediscover their lethal air attack.
Packers 27 Seahawks 23
---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)