Let’s get right to the nitty gritty tonight. This will be a great Monday Night Football game. The east coasters will get a chance to see just how good — and they’re pretty good – the Seahawks are while the world gets another chance to marvel at Aaron Rodgers. Don’t be surprised if this is a playoff preview played in a playoff-type atmosphere tonight.
Tonight’s Important Numbers (5Dimes)
LINE: Green Bay – 3 ½ (-105); Seattle +3 ½ (+155)
OVER/UNDER: 44 (-110)
Breakdown: Green Bay
Here are some probably meaningless but interesting Green Bay trends nonetheless: The Packers win on the road, having been victorious in 10 of their last 11 games. Green Bay is also 6-1 in its last seven games against Seattle; although it should be noted only two of those games were played on the west coast, accounting for the only Packers loss. (That loss was also a Monday Night game, for what it’s worth). While the Packers love to score the total has gone under in 13 of Green Bay’s last 19 road games. The oddest, but worth noting, stat is that Green Bay is 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win.
Obviously, statistics and trends will only get you so far. The fact is Green Bay was a juggernaut offense in 2011, helped the team make a push for perfection before settling on a 15-1 regular season. Nonetheless, Green Bay is a different team away from Lambeau Field. The Packers covered the spread in all but one regular season home game last year. On the road Green Bay failed to cover four times, including in the team’s lone loss as an 11-point favorite at Kansas City.
This team is different, and Vegas has noticed. Just once last season – when Green Bay was resting a slew of its starters in Week 17 vs. Detroit – were the Packers favored by less than four points in a game (they were favored by four points twice and 4 ½ points once). We’re hitting Week 3 this season and already the Packers are just a hook more than a field goal favorite.
Some Seahawks trends to digest: The total has gone over in six of Seattle’s last eight home games and has also gone over in five of Seattle’s last seven matchups with Green Bay. Quest Field is really the best home-field advantage in football hands down. I’m sure you’ll have Green Bay fans and New Orleans fans challenging that but there is something about those animals in Seattle that make it a west coast house of horrors for so many east coast teams.
Seattle generally plays close games at home or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, blows a team out. That’s what makes this a perfect spread. Outside of some questionable clunkers at home last year (a 23-17 loss to lowly Washington and a 34-12 whipping at the hands of Cincinnati) most Seattle home losses are by close to a field goal. (Last year’s 19-17 Christmas Eve loss to San Francisco is the perfect example).
All things even, Green Bay is the better team. On a neutral field, assuming the three points given to home teams, the Packers would be about a touchdown favorite against the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Green Bay offense will do that. Interestingly enough, this potent offense is averaging a pretty blah 22.5 points per game through two weeks. It hasn’t helped playing two of the league’s best defenses in San Francisco and Chicago. As with most prolific offenses the Packers will always go as Aaron Rodgers goes.
Last year Rodgers threw for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns in only 15 starts (he sat our Week 17). That’s nearly 290 yards per game to go along with three touchdowns. I didn’t even mention he threw just six picks in 502 pass attempts last year. This year, albeit in just two games against shut-down defenses, he has just 522 passing yards, three touchdowns and two picks. While the yardage is still respectable (261 yards per game is nothing to scoff at) it isn’t what makes Aaron Rodgers well, Aaron Rodgers.
Seattle’s defense has been getting high praise for the past few seasons, especially the front seven. Therein lies the problem: While Seattle has the seventh-best run defenses in the NFL it ranks dead last in pass defense. That has to sound like music to A-Rod’s ears.
The Packers defense was expected to do a complete 180 from last year’s dreadful defensive season. So far, in two weeks, it looks like the turnaround is in full effect. Green Bay is getting to the quarterback and, when it’s not the defense is making plays (four interceptions, a forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown are already on the resume). The caveat here is that rookie Russell Wilson doesn’t play like a rookie, especially against a pass rush. He’s cool in the pocket and, if forced to scramble, he still keeps his eyes downfield in hopes of making a play. While he’s not lighting up the record book in the air (averaging 152 passing yards and a touchdown through two weeks), he’s keeping plays alive and still has the ability to scramble for some yards.
That, my friends, will be the key matchup tonight. Rodgers is going to do his dirty work and throw for close to, if not more than, 300 yards and at least a few scores. The game will be decided on how Green Bay handles Wilson.
If the NFL season has taught you anything now it’s don’t be surprised by anything. New England at 1-2? New Orleans winless? The Arizona Cardinals at 3-0? The Minnesota Vikings leading the NFC North? All this should force your mind into reality: Anything can happen in the NFL, especially in 2012. Seattle has a rowdy crowd, one that’ll be even more lit up because of the Monday Night game. That extra half point is the key here as there’s a more-than-good chance Green Bay wins, but it’ll be close. There’s also a solid bet that the Seahawks win outright and the Packers trickle to the bottom of the NFC North with the Detroit Lions at 1-2. Go with the trends and that says to take Seattle +3 ½. This game has the looks of a 23-20 showdown, but could very well be played in the 30s. I would steer clear of the over/under on this one and just ride the Seahawks to victory.