With the Green Bay Packers' season-opening game taking place in Prime Time on Thursday night, we decided to run a special edition of our game picks this week, focusing heavily on the first game and our expectations for the result.
By and large, APC's writers are a pessimistic bunch this week, as you'll see. Take a look below at our picks for Thursday's final result.
Tex - Packers 24-20
As usual, I'm a glass half-full guy. I'm buying into the Packers' defensive revival, and I think that the tandem of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers will make life a living hell for Russell Wilson on Thursday night. The run defense is a concern (and a serious one), but improved tackling from the safeties will help limit the damage when Marshawn Lynch makes it to the second level.
On offense, I'm confident in the Packers' no-huddle offense and in Eddie Lacy and the guards' abilities to establish a running game to take pressure off Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers will likely be forced into a lot of quick throws, but the screen pass should also be a big weapon in the Packers' game plan.
Ultimately, I've just seen too much balance on offense and too much improvement on defense right now from the Packers to pick against them. It's admittedly a pick made with my heart as much as my head, but I'm sticking with the Pack.
Jason: Seahawks 24-21
There's no good time to play the defending champs. The Seahawks have one of the league's strongest home-field advantages coupled with a roster filled to the brim with young talent. Until they prove they otherwise, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and company will be the favorites in every game they play this year.
And while that makes for a dour outlook for the Packers, Seattle's Week 1 opponent, this is the best of a bad situation. By playing the Seahawks to open up the season, Mike McCarthy and his staff have extra time to plan and scout their opponent. Granted, the same is true for Pete Carroll, but this exchange favors the underdog.
While I don't see the Packers pulling the upset, I expect a close fought game not unlike the infamous "Fail Mary" game of 2012.
Josh: Seahawks 31-21
I believe the key to this game will be which team holds the edge in the run game. With the injuries to B.J. Raji and J.C. Tretter, the Packers lose key components in both stopping the run and establishing the run. I think Lynch and company will have a field day against a smaller defensive front, and the Packers will struggle to establish the run with rookie Corey Linsley at center in one of the most hostile environments in sports. Rodgers will help keep the team within striking distance, but I think the power run game of Seattle will eventually wear down the Packers defense.
Aron: Seahawks 27-17
This game is going to be neck-and-neck throughout in my mind. I don't expect to see many turnovers -- if any, at all -- in this game, and I wouldn't be shocked if it were a doozer for the first half. Whichever team manages to be the one to slip up will be the one to loose.
Green Bay has spent the entire summer preparing for the crowd noise of Seattle by glaring music during practice ranging from Beyoncé, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That will help, but Corey Linsley and Aaron Rodgers haven't gotten on the same page, and I'm not buying that they're all right. Eddie Lacy will open a lot for the Packers' offensive game plan, but with the way the Seahawks' offense looked in preseason, Russell Wilson could have a field day and Marshawn Lynch could run down a yellow brick road of skittles attacking the interior of Green Bay's defensive line.
It'll be close, but I'm giving the team with the 15-1 home record over the past two years the advantage this week. I just think Seattle's offense will be too much down the stretch of this one.
Brendan: Seahawks 23-20
From a talent standpoint, I think the two teams are really close, so this prediction comes down to two things - experience and home field advantage. We know CenturyLink is tough to play in, but I think the experience and chemistry the Seahawks have as a team will ultimately be the difference. The Packers meanwhile, have a rookie starting at TE, C, Safety (kinda starting anyway) and Davante Adams, while not a starter will likely be counted on as well. That's a lot of fresh blood - something the Seahawks will likely prey on.
Harsha: Seahawks 23-20
I think the Packers have as good a chance as anyone of beating Seattle at CenturyLink. Unlike the Broncos, whom the Seahawks disemboweled in February, Green Bay has a quarterback who can escape pressure and a legitimate ground game. They'll face a team that's shown absolutely zero signs of a Super Bowl hangover in the preseason, and one that's lethal at home. Is Seattle a better team than the bunch that Green Bay faced in 2012? Yes. But folks sometimes forget that the Packers have made their own drastic improvements. I expect Green Bay to pull it out, but so as not to jinx it, I'll take the Seahawks by 3.
There you have it - APC's official picks for tonight's game. Here's hoping Tex takes a 1-0 lead on the rest of the guys after this evening.