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NFL Betting: Packers vs. Seahawks Thursday Night Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 9/4/2014 4:02:42 PM

The Green Bay Packers made the playoffs last season with the worst record of any of the 12 NFL playoff teams in the field. The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks - Thursday, September 4

Odds: Seahawks -5.5

These two teams represent clear contrasts in styles. The Packers are all about their offense, and their defense just needs to be good enough. Green Bay missed Aaron Rodgers for much of last season. The Packers have an average defense, so when they lacked their superstar quarterback, they suffered enough to the point that they couldn’t even win nine games. They finished 8-7-1, but they won the NFC North because it was so bad, and because the Chicago Bears had quarterback injury problems of their own with Jay Cutler going down for much of the year. One cannot expect the Packers to win the division with only eight wins again this season, partly because the simple odds of that happening are very small. The big reason, though, why that shouldn’t happen is that Rodgers is healthy again after the long offseason and should be able to guide the Packers’ offense to bigger and better things. If he stays healthy for 16 games, Green Bay will win a lot more than eight, at least 11 and possibly 12. Rodgers, when firing on all cylinders, gives the Packers an elite offense that can challenge Seattle’s aggressive and excellent defense. Rodgers doesn’t just stretch the field with his rocket arm. He can run for first downs and do things that linebackers and safeties have to account for. If Rodgers is on his game, it’s going to be very tough for Seattle to win, even at home.

On the other hand, Seattle is the kind of team for which defense is the key, and the important thing is to do just enough on offense, avoiding turnovers and creating a field position game in which other teams have to go 80 or more yards to score touchdowns. Seattle’s defense is loaded at every position. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas anchor the secondary, and Michael Bennett is part of a ferocious defensive line. Malcolm Smith is part of a linebacker corps that helped to dismantle Peyton Manning and the rest of the Denver Broncos’ offense in Super Bowl XLVIII last February in East Rutherford, N.J. There’s so much depth and speed on this defense, and coach Pete Carroll is able to rotate bodies in and out of the lineup so that everyone stays fresh. The Seahawks are so forceful on defense that offenses find it hard to get a comfort zone to begin with. That comfort zone shrinks even more in Seattle, where the Seahawks have barely lost a game over the past two seasons (only once, to Arizona, late in 2013). The loudness of the crowd disrupts offenses, making Rodgers’ task so difficult on Thursday night.

Green Bay can beat Seattle, but it probably needs to do that in Green Bay. In Seattle, the Seahawks are probably going to be too strong.

Pick: Seahawks -5.5

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