1) Can Murphy hold up at right tackle?
Bryan Bulaga may be listed as questionable with an ankle injury, but based on coach Mike McCarthy’s comments on Friday, it’s doubtful the Pro Bowl caliber right tackle will be on the field later today. That means Kyle Murphy will be making his first start against one of the best defenses in the league. The slow-footed former sixth-round pick is a battler, but he’s going to need help. If he gets it, the offense should be fine. Remember, this group averaged 26 points per game in 2013 with Don Barclay starting 14 times at the position.
2) Will the Packers Dial it up?
He only joined the team a few days ago, but games like today’s are why GM Ted Thompson brought Quinton Dial to Green Bay. The Seahawks are going to want to run the ball and control the clock, and the former 49er has the potential to be an immovable force in the middle of the defensive line. If he’s not ready, it’ll be up to Kenny Clark to hold his ground when the Packers go with only two D-linemen in the nickel.
3) Will Wilson continue to struggle vs. Green Bay?
Russell Wilson has thrown 10 interceptions in his last four games against the Packers. He’s the only good QB in the league who can’t seem to figure out Dom Capers. It’s like watching a student at Yale struggle to do basic algebra. The Seahawks need him to play well in order to win on the road. The Packers need him to continue to struggle in order to make it three in a row over their relatively new but already very bitter rival.
4) Which team needs this game more?
This is very easy – the Packers. Facing one of the best teams in the league on the road, Seattle is playing with house money. A win would be great; a loss would be no big deal. That’s not the case for the home team. While a win would be every bit as great, a loss would be a much bigger deal. Getting one of the top two seeds and the home field advantage that comes with it will be a lot harder if the Packers don’t win today.
The pick: I hate picking games the first few weeks, especially between evenly matched teams. It’s hard to imagine the Packers scoring over 30 points with Earl Thomas back from an injury that caused him to miss last season’s game. This could be lower scoring than a lot of people think, and may well come down to who has the ball last.
In September, I often make my pick by looking at the QBs, the defenses and the venue. The Packers get two of the three check marks, so I’ll hesitantly go with them in what should be a great game. GREEN BAY 26-24.