Romilly Evans preview's tonight's big game, where he expects Green Bay to prevail in a game where defenses may dominate
"Having Jennings back, both as a weapon or a decoy to free up the rest of the receiving corps, should make the telling difference. And I make Green Bay overcoming a 2.5-point concession one of my best bets of the campaign."
BBCi's brave new world of Monday Night Football continues on this side of the pond with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Seattle Seahawks. It's a match-up between one of the Superbowl favourites and an unexpected livewire outsider.
Seattle have done well to earn the latter tag, admittedly just two games into the current schedule, so limited were their pre-season expectations. However, last week's defensive drubbing of the fancied Dallas Cowboys has set their credentials in a new light.
In fact, on what we've seen so far, their biggest obstacle to play-off qualification could prove their surprisingly competitive division. The NFC West looked at the mercy of the 49ers at the outset, but all four teams have already proved they can play, especially the Arizona Cardinals.
Consequently, the Seahawks need to make home advantage pay in the regular season at one of the league's most intimidating fortresses, CenturyLink Field. They may not look like much on offense. But in Russell Wilson, they at least appear to have a quarter-back with sensible shoulders - shoulders which invariably forego the pass and offload the ball instead to Marshawn Lynch.
With one touchdown from 26 bruising carries, Lynch collected his seventh 100-yard game from his last 10 appearances - and his sixth consecutive such performance at home. Wilson, for his part, minimised the mistakes, completing 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards to secure his first win. It was effective. But the Pack will know what's coming as they square up against the lowest-ranked pass-offense this term.
Green Bay's own defense recovered from a humiliating opener to plug the gaps in their secondary when dismantling Chicago 23-10. Mike McCarthy was particularly pleased with his D's improvement, especially since the coach had blown his first six picks in the latest draft on shoring up the defensive issues which were blamed for the Packers' post-season failure last year. They broke through a powerful Bears line on numerous occasions and sacked Jay Cutler seven times. After another week of together-time, this new outfit will have their systems even more firmly embedded. So Lynch will have to add stealth to his grinding work ethic.
On the other side of the ball, Green Bay is slowly going through the gears, but this offensive giant is still slumbering. Aaron Rodgers's arm will stir them soon, but the QB has been getting too much attention for his liking to date. Rodgers has been sacked eight times in two weeks - where his eighth sack last season came in Week 5 - and will need some respite in that regard if he is to pick the Seahawks apart.
That said, he should greatly benefit from the return of star wide receiver, Greg Jennings, who looks ready to rumble after allaying groin concerns by taking in every play of recent practice. Having Jennings back, both as a weapon or a decoy to free up the rest of the receiving corps, should make the telling difference. And I make Green Bay overcoming a 2.5-point concession one of my best bets of the campaign.
So ignore the fact that Seattle are the top-rated team in MNF games and expect Rogers to make it a hat-trick over the Seahawks.