As Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks will host the NFL regular-season opener at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. And their opponent in the nationally televised game will be the Green Bay Packers.
A look at the Seahawks’ opponent in their regular-season opener, the Green Bay Packers:
When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 8-7-1 last season, when they won the NFC North; 3-1 in the preseason
Where they ranked: No. 3 on offense (7th rushing, 6th passing) and No. 25 on defense (25th rushing, 24th passing) last season; No. 6 on offense (6th rushing, 11th passing) and No. 4 on defense (10th rushing, 7th passing) during the preseason.
TV: KING/5, with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Radio: 710 ESPN, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Series: Packers lead 8-6 in the regular season, including victories in four of the past six meetings. The games have been played at four venues – the Kingdome and CenturyLink Field in Seattle; and Lambeau Field in Green Bay and Milwaukee County Stadium in Milwaukee.
Star power: Aaron Rodgers. The discount-double-check guy also is a pretty good pitchman when it comes to throwing the football. The Packers became a more balanced offense last season when Rodgers was out for seven games with a fractured collarbone. But Rodgers is back, and so is the passing attack. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, Rodgers ranks No. 1 in the league in passer rating (105.6) and yards per attempt (8.24) and is No. 2 in TD passes (187) and completions of 25-plus yards (211). “They’re really smart, in that they run the ball when the numbers fit and they throw the ball when they fit properly,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the Packers’ offense before the 2012 matchup. “That’s all on the shoulders of the quarterback, and he can do it.”
Unsung hero: Mike Daniels. The Packers’ defense already featured linebackers Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk and this offseason linebacker Julius Peppers was added in free agency and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the NFL Draft. But it’s Daniels who is “The guy that really gets our defense going,” as Rodgers put it. Even if the 6-foot, 305-pound Daniels doesn’t look the part. “He doesn’t have your prototypical defensive line body – he’s a litter shorter,” Rodgers said. “But he makes up for it with a really high motor.” Among other intangibles. “Mike is just
one of the all-time attitude-type players that you just love having on your football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s one of the individuals that’s here year round working out. Just can’t get enough of it. His passion and his love for football, his work ethic, it just all lines up and this is the result.”
On the spot: Corey Linsley. With center J.C. Tretter out with a knee injury, the rookie from Ohio State gets the start – in the din that will be generated by the Seahawks’ 12th Man fans. It would be a tough assignment for a veteran center. “I think it has an impact on everyone’s game when they come in there,” said Rodgers, who was sacked eight times in his last visit to CenturyLink Field in Week 3 of the 2012 season. “You have to account for it. They’re really great, smart fans up there who know when to cheer and it makes it very difficult for the offenses they play there.”
Burning question: How will the addition of Peppers affect the Packers’ defense? He is 34, in his 13th season, with his third team and playing a new position. But Peppers also is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s as defensive end. “He’s definitely an impact player and I think he’s really enjoying playing the outside linebacker position,” McCarthy said. “He’s been a great fit for us.”
Numbers to know: 7 and 9, division titles and playoff berths for the Packers in the 12 seasons since NFL realignment in 2002, which rank third-best in the league behind the Patriots (10 and 10) and Colts (8 and 11). … 118.5, Peppers’ career sacks. … 52-38-3, the Packers’ record in season openers. … 5-3, McCarthy’s record in season opener with the Packers.
Familiar faces: Backup quarterback Matt Flynn also was the Seahawks’ backup QB in 2012. Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss played linebacker for the Seahawks from 1995-97. Executive VP, general manager and director of football operations Ted Thompson was the Seahawks’ VP of football operations from 2000-04. Assistant director of pro personnel Tim Terry played linebacker for the Seahawks from 2000-02.
The last word: “We knew when the (2013) season was over that we were traveling to play Seattle. So, heck, why not do it Week 1? That’s really the way we’re looking at it. I clearly understand the challenge of playing in the opening game and it’s differently an environment and atmosphere that goes to a different level. But who doesn’t like primetime football games?” – McCarthy
Up next: Green Bay Packers.