The last meaningful NFL game saw the Seattle Seahawks win their first Super Bowl title, as they dominated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Seven months later, the defending champs will kick off the 2014 NFL regular season when they host the Green Bay Packers in Week One on Thursday night.
Expectations remain high for Seattle, after they won the title and finished the 2013 season tied for the best record in football. They are once again the favorites to win the NFC, and Bovada.lv gives them the second-best betting odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl.
Seattle won’t have an easy time in the season opener. They’ll face a team that is expected to be one of the Seahawks’ toughest competitors in the conference. Green Bay made it to last year’s playoffs after winning just eight games, but they’ll look to have a healthy Aaron Rodgers in 2014. The quarterback missed seven games last season with a should injury.
The Seahawks will pit the league’s top defense against one of the best signal callers in the NFL. In 2013, Seattle ranked No.1, allowing less than 274 yards and just 14.4 points per game. While injuries kept Rodgers off the field for nearly half the season, he still managed to register a 104.9 passer rating, throwing 2,536 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The two teams last faced off two years ago when the Packers visited Seattle. Rodgers completed 67 percent of his passes and didn’t commit a turnover, but he was barely given any time in the pocket. The quarterback was sacked eight times in a 14-12 loss. The contest became infamous for the game’s final play, in which replacement refs had trouble deciding if a pass from Russell Wilson should have been ruled a completion for a touchdown or an interception.
“There’s a challenge at every level,” Rodgers said Sunday on a conference-call, in regards to the Seattle defense. “They’re really talented up front. They’re as good as they come on the backend with the safety-corner tandem. And they’re very talented and long and rangy and athletic and physical in the linebacker group.”
While the Seahawks are known for their defense, the team’s offense could be poised to have a big year, as well. Coming off his second straight season in which he recorded at least a 100.0 passer rating, Wilson could be even better in 2014. Seattle went 2-2 in the preseason, but the first-team offense was unstoppable at times. In 13 possessions, the quarterback led the Seahawks on nine touchdown drives in four games.
Green Bay lost just one of its four preseason games. The Packers introduced a no-huddle offense that worked wonders in the second and third exhibition contests. Against the St. Louis Rams, Rodgers led the team to scores on its first two drives. In the following week against the Oakland Raiders, Rodgers helped the offense get into the end zone three times.
Playing at CenturyLink Field, Seattle will have a major advantage. The team went 7-1 at home in 2013, and might have the best home-field advantage in the league, with their home victories coming by an average of 18.6 points.
While most home teams are given an additional 2.5 points in the betting line by oddsmakers, Pat Morrow of Bovada.lv has told the Seattle Times that the Seahawks get 3.5 points. On Thursday, the betting odds at most Las Vegas casinos have the Packers getting 5.5 points, with the over/under set at 46 points.
Prediction: The first game of Week One could be one of the best season openers in recent memory. Seattle has proven that it can stop any offense, especially at home, but Rodgers and the Packers will be difficult to keep out of the end zone. Green Bay should be able to keep it close, but despite the loss of key defenders like Chris Clemons and Walter Thurmond, Richard Sherman and the rest of the defense are good enough to give the champs a win to start off 2014.
Predicted Score: Seattle over Green Bay, 24-20