Dress Rehearsal - (Preseason) Week 3 Preview
Since every beat writer on the planet calls the third preseason game a "dress rehearsal" (except Tom Silverstein), we're going through a dress rehearsal as well, running through a full regular season-style preview just for kicks and giggles.
The Packers and Seahawks certainly do have some fun recent history, but it's the kind of fun that you only talk about sarcastically. Like when you tell someone you have to go get six root canals that afternoon, and they say "well that sounds like fun" and then you sock them in the nose. That's the kind of fun this is.
You know the reason, and I won't bother looking up the replay of the play that ended last year's Monday night game in Seattle, because you're going to see it a zillion times tonight. Does that sound like fun to you? No, I didn't think so. That, and it's a preseason game, so the outcome doesn't matter at all.
But there still will be a few things worth noting from tonight's game. The most interesting, perhaps, will be gauging the Packers' performance against the Seahawks' great defense. The number one offense has been far from in-sync, but if they can have a solid outing against a good defensive unit, that would go a long way toward establishing a rhythm heading down the stretch toward the regular season.
It'll also be interesting to see if Eddie Lacy can build on his performance from last week. Eight carries for 40 yards is a great debut, but it's a small sample size. If he can show that he's capable of gaining yards after first contact against a stout defense, the Packers' might have something special.
5 - The number Seattle defensive backs that would be instant starters for almost any team in the league. As I detailed in yesterday's podcast (did you know there's a podcast now? You should definitely check out the podcast), the Seahawks go five deep with amazing defenders in the secondary. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor might be the best safety duo in the league, and Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are probably the best cornerback tandem around. Throw in wily veteran Antoine Winfield (you're required to call him a "wily" or a "crafty" whenever you write about him) and they've got some serious talent in the defensive backfield.
4 - Running backs on the Packers fighting for two (and perhaps even one) roster spot. Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris have spots locked up. That leaves fourth round pick Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, James Starks, and Angelo Pease fighting to make the roster. Franklin's been astonishingly unproductive, Green's been unremarkable, Starks has run hard, but fumbled last week, and Pease is a largely unknown commodity. If one of them shows some separation tonight, though, you might just see a third running back job all but sewn up.
3 - Career punt return touchdowns for Seattle defensive back Will Blackmon, who took all three of those to the house for the Packers. Blackmon was a fourth round pick in 2006, but had his career more or less totally derailed by injuries. He only played in all 16 games in one season (2008), and has never made much of an impact aside from his special teams contributions. But it's still nice to see a former Packer hanging around, and maybe he'll have a chance to shine on a defensive back-laden Seattle roster. (Interestingly, the Packers' 2006 draft also yielded current Packers A.J. Hawk (first round) and Johnny Jolly (sixth). That class also included Greg Jennings (second), Daryn Colledge (second), and Dave Tollefson (seventh), all of whom are still active in the league. Third round pick Jason Spitz was released by the Jaguars this week).
2 - Packers seventh round picks who need to make up some serious ground tonight. The two picks in question are wide receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, both of whom were injured very early in training camp and haven't really seen the field since. Dorsey practiced last week but didn't play against St. Louis, so presumably he'll be on the field tonight. Johnson, meanwhile, is also expected to be active, but only returned to practice this week, so his contributions might be limited. Both are intriguing physical specimens (Johnson especially: he's 6'2" and 215 pounds and runs a 4.3 second 40 yard dash), but they're probably too far behind to make the final 53. That's not to say, though, that they won't be able to contribute on the practice squad. A good showing might earn them a call back after the first round of roster cuts.
1 - Touchdowns this preseason by the Packers' offense. One touchdown in two games is unacceptable, and hopefully the offense will be able to straighten things out against Seattle.
Last Time - Seattle: 12 Green Bay: 7 - September 24, 2012
Interesting stats from last time: Aaron Rodgers had just 223 yards on 39 pass attempts, despite completing 26 passes. That's a major credit to Seattle's defense. Cedric Benson (remember him?) led the way with 49 yards rushing. Nick Perry had a sack. The Packers misfired on a two point conversion that would have drastically affected the rest of the game. And curiously, M.D. Jennings is not credited with an interception. (I couldn't resist.)
Meet a Seahawk - Earl Thomas - 5'10", 202 lb. - FS - 4th year
He's fast, he hits like a stick of dynamite, and he has great coverage skills. Thomas is well on his way to being the best safety in the league, if he's not there already.
The Seahawks will win if...
Are you kidding me?
The Packers will win if...
Nope, not for a preseason game.
The Pick: Packers: 20 Seahawks: 17
The numbers in this prediction are arbitrary. After all, this is a dress rehearsal.