There are few days where you wake up and know that no matter what happens today, NOTHING is going to put me in a bad mood. It's just not possible. The world is going crazy, new super diseases are popping up left and right, bees and wasps are trying to conquer us all... but none of it matters today. For today, today is one of those rare days where you wake up, sniff in the morning air and smile... today is the first day of fucking NFL FOOTBALL.
And it couldn't have come soon enough. I have actually been scratching my neck for the past month like a crack addict. Not cus it was itching, but because I have been so anxious for this season to start that my body decided to physically manifest that anxiety in an addict like manner. Also I smoke crack. Kidding. Maybe. Anyway, it's finally the start of the season and we have a great NFC matchup with two of the top teams in the conference battling it out for our pleasure. SO, without further ado, let's take a look at tonight's game and make our first terrible gambling decision of the year.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers
Line: Seahawks -6 Over/Under: 46
The defending Super Bowl champs, who boasted one of the best defenses in NFL history a season ago, take on Aaron Rodgers and an offense predicted to be one of the tops in the league this season. The re-match of the Fail Mary. It's certainly not an easy selection one way or the other, but let's see if we can't find something that will enlighten us on which way to bet this bad boy tonight (or at least convince ourselves that we're correct based on flimsy statistics and gut feelings).
It's obviously a classic offense vs. defense battle, which usually bodes well for the defensive side of the ball (ask Peyton). There's no denying that Seattle's defense, led by the impressive "Legion of Boom" secondary, is still one of the best in the game. Factor in the fact that the game is in Seattle, one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play in, and it's very difficult to find a reason why the Packers would pull off the upset... but I think I found one. In fact, I think I've found 3.
1) Defensive Penalties - This off-season, the NFL made defensive holding after 5 yards it's primary concern in terms of officiating. What that means is that basically the slightest contact with a receiver after 5 yards is going to get called on the defense, and if you paid any attention to the pre-season, then you've already seen what I'm talking about in action. I swear, every time I looked at the TV during a pre-season game there were defensive holding flags all over the field. And why is that a point of emphasis this year? Because of the Legion of Boom.
The physical style of this Seattle defense, displayed by guys like Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, is essentially the direct reason why this penalty is going to be called so frequently this season. Other coaches bitched and moaned about their coverage basically just being too good, and now we are going to see flags abound. I don't necessarily think it's a good thing, but it's a fact. Oh and also, the referee tonight (John Parry) happens to call almost twice the amount of penalties than the rest of the league, on average, so I would be hard pressed to believe that this is not going to be a flag-fest. If that is the case, then that defense is going to be significantly hampered for tonight's game.
2) Green Bay's Offense - I think this offense is going to be really, really good this year. Aaron Rodgers is one of the top quarterbacks year in and year out, and this year he actually has an offensive line for the first time in his career. Yeah, yeah, they have a rookie center, I know, but I think their hurry-up style offense will mask his inexperience a bit, and the rest of the guys around him are good enough to pick up any slack he may create (watch him get blown up all night now...).
Rodgers has made a career out of being able to operate outside of the pocket, but that almost seems out of necessity because there's always somebody from the other team in the Packers' backfield. This is the first year that that line has a bit of stability and skill, and if Rodgers can combine his improvisational skills with the ability to be comfortable in the pocket for a change, then I don't see anybody slowing these guys down too much. Also, Randall Cobb is healthy again, and look for him to have a HUGE year as the most dynamic weapon in this offense, starting with tonight's game.
3) Marshawn Lynch - I really hope I'm wrong on this one, as he's on my fantasy team, but I'm pretty terrified for him this season. As multiple people (including ESPN's Matthew Berry) have reported, Marshawn has touched the ball over 250 times in each of the past 3 seasons. That's a fucking ton. I love me some Beast Mode, and I wouldn't be shocked if he destroys this theory, but I have to think that he hits a wall this year. Running backs never have long shelf lives to begin with, and when you get hit as much as he has in his career, it just makes it so hard for me to believe that he continues his dominant play this season. And if he does take a step back, then who does this team rely on to score? Russell Wilson is a solid quarterback, but at the moment I can't trust the Seahawks passing game to fill the void that I believe Marshawn creates for this offense.
So I guess I'm getting a little crazy here. Cus not only am I going to say the Packers cover the 6 point spread, I'm going to go as far as to say that they win this bad boy OUTRIGHT*! And if they are going to do that, well that means they're going to score a good amount of points, so I'm gonna go ahead and take the over as well.
Pick: PACKERS OUTRIGHT
Over/Under 46 pts: OVER
May as well start the year off with a leap. But hey, even if I'm wrong, fuck it. Football's back baby.
* Sorry Corey and Dave. If it's any consolation, when I'm wrong you can berate me to smithereens on Sunday.