So here we are. It’s Monday afternoon, and we’re about 5 hours or so from kickoff. I took the day off, slept in, ate bacon, got coffee. The usual stuff on what feels like a weekend morning. I’ve been thinking about tonight’s game for a while now, and I’ve finally condensed my thoughts to three keys for tonight.
1. Have a short memory. There will be a lot of things on the minds of our Seahawks over the course of the day and over the course of the game. They’ll be thinking about last week’s blowout victory over the Cowboys. They’ll be thinking about that long 3rd down conversion Aaron Rodgers inexplicably made when under duress. They’ll be thinking about the bright lights of Monday Night Football and 20-30 million eyes on them.
To win, the Seahawks must have an incredibly short memory. They must play in the moment, focus, and forget everything that will undoubtedly distract them. Everyone wants this team to “win now”. It’s my opinion that it’s folly to think, at this stage of the team’s development, that they will. The offensive line is ‘set’, so to speak, but still incredibly young. The Seahawks field a rookie QB. They field a secondary that has what …8-9 full seasons of NFL experience among them all? The young and inexperienced get let the ‘ups’ go to their head, and are often crushed by the ‘downs’. It’s highly likely this team will play from behind for much of the game. It’s the Packers, after all. If they can simply focus, and play in the moment, they will play at their best. And it’s my opinion that their best is indeed enough to win against anyone.
2. Run, run, run and keep running. If Marshawn Lynch gets a lot of carries, it probably means the Seahawks win. A lot has been made of the Packers’ seemingly weak run defense. I’m not terribly convinced; it’s not as weak as its 26th in the NFL designation may seem. But the Seahawks must commit to the run, and most of all, run effectively from start to finish. How they do this, I don’t know, to be frank. In the Dallas game, the run game didn’t get its legs until the second half. By that time tonight, the Seahawks are likely in a hole against the Packers, and committing to the run when in a hole is dangerous.
Russell Wilson extends plays. By running. He often escapes sure sack situations, and extends plays. He didn’t get much help game one, as many of the receivers quit on routes when they thought the play was over. But as Golden Tate and a few other guys showed in the Dallas game, not quitting on the route and running until the whistle helped Wilson and gives him more options.
And lastly – cover those Packer receivers. Until the whistle blows. This game will test the secondary more than any other game likely has. The Seahawks pass rush has yet to reach full stride, and Aaron Rodgers, much like Wilson or last week’s Romo, can extend plays longer than seemingly humanly possible. Play until the whistle, guys, and you will do great.
3. Don’t get in a hole. I pride myself on the non-bullshit aspect of my analysis. I try to provide insightful, actionable analysis that is backed up by fact and doesn’t rely on “gut feel”. So this key to the game is a bit different than my usual schtick.
But you must understand that the Packers’ offense and defense is built to play and thrive when they have the lead. What is the Packers’ strength on defense? Pass rush and to a slightly lesser extent – their secondary. Their weakness? Their run defense. And what do teams do when they’re behind? Usually pass the ball. This situation is exacerbated by the Seahawks fielding a rookie quarterback (albeit a seemingly unflappable one) starting his third game of his career under the bright lights of a nationally televised game.
The Seahawks must come out hot, score early, and field an effective pass rush early. This Packers team, despite its two somewhat unimpressive showings this season, are no slouches. They field arguably the most talented roster, on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks will face all season. Aaron Rodgers is as good as ever, and he will make the Seahawks pay for every mistake they make, that I can guarantee.
To be a good team, you must beat good teams. This is the Seahawks’ chance to prove for the second time this season they are a good team by beating a good team. And not talking about proving it to the media and fans across the country. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about them or who does or doesn’t give the Seahawks respect. I don’t give a shit if we’re 32nd in ESPN’s power rankings. I don’t give a crap what analysts say about us (though I do admit I like hearing the positive stuff). I care about this team, the product they field every game day, and the way they perform when the game is on the line.
Over the past season or two they’ve had huge moments and beat great teams, most notably the back and forth victory against the Giants, the pound-it-out victory of the Ravens, and last week’s complete undressing of the Cowboys. They’ve shown they can do it. They can be the best and beat the best.
Tonight is yet another chance to prove they truly are among the best of the best.
Go get em, guys.