Game Preview: Seahawks at Packers

Mike Holmgren leads his young Seahawks squad into the familiar confines of Lambeau Field to open the preseason.

What: Preseason opener for both teams
When: Monday, August 16th, 5:00 pm (PST)
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Packers Key Players:

QB Brett Favre: Favre is still one of the elite QBs in the NFL. He has made 189 consecutive starts (208 including the playoffs) which is a record for QBs. In 2003 he passed for 3,361 yards, completing 65.4% of his passes, for 32 TDs and 21 interceptions. Favre can still take over a game when he needs to and the Packers front office has acquired some nice talent for him to throw to.

RB Ahman Green: All Green does is grind out yardage. Since he joined Green Bay in 2000 (in a trade with the Seahawks), Green has more rushing yards than any other NFL player (5,685). In 2003 Green rushed for 1,883 yards and 15 TDs. He has also improved his hands, catching 50 passes (second most on the team) for 367 yards and five TDs. He is a workhorse and when he gets into the open field, few can catch him. He still has a penchant for fumbling but that area has improved as well.

WR Javon Walker: Walker is the Packers’ most explosive wideout averaging 17.5 yards per catch in 2003. Word is he has worked diligently this offseason on his explosiveness hoping to double his receptions and yardage from last season (41, 716). His nine touchdown receptions tied him for 10th in the league last season.

DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: While his sack totals have gone down over the last three seasons (10 sacks in 2003) he has become a complete defensive end, playing both the run and pass with efficiency. KGB is the first Packer ever to record double-digit sacks in three straight seasons. He also has a very good motor that is infectious along the line.

MLB Nick Barnett: Barnett is one of the leaders of the defense even though he is entering only his second season in the NFL. He plays with abandon and his athletic ability and tackling make him a playmaker. As a rookie he led the Packers in tackles with 109 and finished tied for third on the team with three interceptions. Barnett still will run himself out of plays every now and then but he flies to the ball and makes things happen.

CB Al Harris: Seahawk fans remember Harris well. Harris made the pick last season that sent the Packers to the second round of the playoffs. He picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass and took it 52 yards for the game winning touchdown only 4:25 seconds into overtime. He finished second on the team with 14 passes defensed and tied for third in interceptions with three.

Key Matchups:

Favre vs. Seahawks CB’s Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant: Favre lit the young Hawks secondary up last season. During the regular season he went 19 of 25 for 185 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was rarely pressured and he picked the Seahawks apart. In the playoff game he completed 26 of 38 passes for 319 yards and one touchdown. Trufant and Lucas have both had outstanding training camps thus far and Favre will be a good early test to see where they are.

Green vs. Seahawks LB’s: Green tore up the Hawks in the regular season meeting running for 118 yards and two touchdowns. In the playoff game he was held in check most of the game but still managed to score two touchdowns. Hawks OLB Chad Brown may not start as a precaution to rest his ailing foot, but if he plays he may only get one or two series. In his place will likely be newly re-signed D.D. Lewis. Second-year MLB Solomon Bates appears to have the inside track to start for the Hawks in the middle and Green is a great test for the youngster from Arizona State. Also battling will be Orlando Huff and Niko Koutouvides. Green is great between the tackles and it will be up to the linebackers to keep him from running amok.

Hasselbeck and Seahawks WR’s vs. Packers secondary: Starting CB Mike McKenzie is holding out and is demanding a trade. In his place is fifth-year corner Michael Hawthorne. Hawthorne will need help covering what is turning out to be a very athletic and talented wide receiver corps. WRs Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson, and Bobby Engram suffered through a case of “dropsies” in 2003 and word is they worked extra hard during the offseason to eliminate the problem. Robinson has been suffering from a sore hip for most of camp and only recently returned to action.

Seahawks LT vs. Gbaja-Biamila: Hawks LT Walter Jones is conducting his annual training camp holdout after being named a franchise player before free agency. Whoever faces KGB (either Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack or rookie Sean Locklear) will probably get lots of help keeping him off of Hasselbeck.

Players vs. Injuries: A number of starters from several teams around the league have been lost to injuries so far this preseason. Washington OT John Jansen (ruptured Achilles) is the most recent player to be felled by the injury bug and it is imperative to the Seahawks that they come out of this game healthy.

News and Notes:
The Packers lead this series 6-4, after winning the wild-card playoff game last year; The Hawks were pleasantly surprised by the 11,000 or so fans that turned up in Portland to watch their intra-squad scrimmage last weekend. By contrast the Packers had a turnout of over 60,000 fans turn out to watch their scrimmage on the same day; The Packers still have one of the youngest squads in the league with an average age of 27.8 years; The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Prediction: Green Bay 24 – Seattle 17 Top Stories