Two NFC playoff regulars open the season against one another when the Seattle Seahawks visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Green Bay’s streak of eight consecutive playoff appearances is one shy of the NFL record, while Seattle has made the postseason each of the last five years.
Aaron Rodgers is the pivotal factor in the Packers’ longstanding success as he has topped 4,000 passing yards six times and recorded his second season of 40 or more touchdown tosses last year. “He’s at the peak of his career. He’s at the top of his game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters of the 33-year-old Rodgers. “It’s hard to imagine what more he can do or how much better he can play. All the great players are looking for extraordinary consistency. He is just such a fantastic football player.” Seattle counterpart Russell Wilson passed for a career-best 4,219 yards last season but threw just 21 touchdown passes - 13 fewer than the career high he set in 2015. Wilson was picked off a career-worst five times when the Seahawks were routed 38-10 at Lambeau Field in December.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Packers -3. O/U: 51
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (2016: 10-5-1, 1st in NFC West): With Thomas Rawls (ankle) questionable, Seattle is preparing to give the rejuvenated Eddie Lacy the bulk of the work as he returns to Lambeau Field after twice topping 1,100 rushing yards in four seasons with the Packers. “First off, he’s ready,” Carroll told reporters regarding Lacy. “He’s had a great run with us getting to this point. ... He’s prepared to play. He’s ready for a full load.” The Seahawks’ defense remains loaded with stars, and the list includes cornerback Richard Sherman (four interceptions last season), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (167 tackles) and defensive end Michael Bennett (five sacks).
ABOUT THE PACKERS (2016: 10-6, 1st in NFC North): Rodgers has three stellar targets at his disposal in Jordy Nelson (97 catches last season), Davante Adams (75) and Randall Cobb (60), while converted receiver Ty Montgomery (457 yards in 2016) is the starting running back. Green Bay allowed 30 or more points in five of its regular-season setbacks last year and recently added former Pro-Bowl linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a mix that includes outside linebacker Clay Matthews (career-low five sacks) and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (five interceptions). “Green Bay offered me the best contract, they had the best team, I wanted to be part of a winning tradition, a winning organization, and coming here gives me that,” Brooks, who spent the previous eight seasons with San Francisco, told reporters. “You want to win a championship.”
1. The Packers have won 10 of the 17 regular-season meetings with the Seahawks and two of their three postseason matchups.
2. Both teams were eliminated by Atlanta last postseason - Seattle in the divisional round and Green Bay in the NFC title game.
3. Green Bay TE Martellus Bennett (403 career receptions) is the younger brother of Seattle DE Michael (45.5 career sacks).
PREDICTION: Packers 34, Seahawks 30