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Saturday, September 22, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 3: Packers vs Seahawks

Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks: GB -3 (5Dimes)


I think I might be missing something here.  The early line on this game was Packers -6.  The look-ahead line last week was -5.  Now it's moved all the way down to a field goal at most shops.  I understand the Seahawks play well at home, but how many extra points on the line are we talking about here?

Strength vs Strength

First off, I'm a big fan of the Seahawks defense. We all know they have a stacked secondary, but with or without Greg Jennings, Green Bay still have Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, and Randall Cobb.  The scary thing about these guys is that a few of them are still improving and have their best days ahead of them.

Let's break this down a bit further and see what we're looking at on Monday night.

The key that can break the back of any defense is the ability of Finley.  Like all athletic tight ends, defenses must decide if they are lining up as a wide receiver or as a regular tight end.  What can make this so difficult is the base personnel that Mike McCarthy puts out there.  If he lines up in a two-tight end set, Seattle won't always have the option to cover Finley as a receiver.  The great thing about this Green Bay system is how often their alignments create mismatches for Rodgers.

Even when a play breaks down, Rodgers often buys enough time to find the open man or he simply runs to the sidelines to pick up the first down.

So let's not be so quick to mistake the Seahawks' defense for the 49ers.  The name to watch here is K.J. Wright.  He's getting a lot of early season praise for his aggressive approach, but he's far from a polished pass defender this soon in his career.  It will be interesting to see how they account for Finley in this game, but linebacker is the area you want to attack on this defense.

Up front, the Packers O-line is healthy and more than capable of pass-blocking but whatever shortcomings they do have is often masked by Rodgers escapability in the pocket.  If Seattle wants to win this game, they'll need Mebane, Branch, Irvin, and Clemons to bring their 'A' game.  I really like the potential of this group, but whether it's the short passing game or Rodgers' legs, it's hard to contain this offense for 60 minutes.

Marshawn Lynch to the Rescue?

The game plan for Seattle is no secret.  They have the 49ers game on tape and I'm sure they believe they have the roster to replicate it on Monday.  This is a good news, bad news situation.  The good news is Russell Wilson's feet are going to help keep the edge-rushers honest.  If Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, or Erik Walden crowd the line they'll need to maintain gap integrity and not over-pursue.

The bad news for Seattle is Matthews is healthy this year and probably one of the more instintive rushers in the league.  With BJ Raji disrupting the interior pocket, the Packers should be able to keep contain more times than not.

Russell Wilson Ready for Prime-Time?

The other bit of bad news for Seattle backers if the uncertainty at QB.  If you were unfortunate enough to have the Panthers on Thursday night you'll know that a home dog crowd isn't much of a benefit if the QB plays like crap.  Wilson deserves a ton of credit for how quickly he's risen to the top of the food chain, but he's never been in a spot like this before.

If Rodgers comes out and puts up a 10 point lead, can Wilson keep up?  Is he going to lead them down the field and win the game in crunch time?  I'm not saying he can't, but you never really know how the bright lights will affect a young player until they get out there.

Bottom Line

Last week we saw the Cowboys as three point favorites in Seattle and they started the game by spotting the Seahawks 10 points within the first five minutes.  Despite this, they were still very much in the game at the start of the second half.

I don't expect the Green Bay to spot Seattle a two-score lead before they break a sweat, and even if they do get down, I know they won't respond the way the Cowboys did.

I'm not going to get caught up if this is a square play or a sharp play.  All I know is this line has moved 2-3 points since it was originally put on the board and now we can take the Packers on the key number of three. That's the kind of value that I don't like to pass up.

NFL Pick: GB -3.

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