GREEN BAY—OK, Packers fans, we can get through this. Take a deep breath. Now blow it out slowly. That’s it. You can do it.
As the big day nears, noises are beginning to emanate from my inbox. I think I even heard a faint cry for help.
I know what’s bugging you. It’s that play. Yeah, I know. It wasn’t fair, and now you’re worried the Seahawks are going to get the last laugh again.
Forget about it! That’s what you have to do. Let it go.
It was one play in one game and its most dramatic impact was to have ended the replacement refs’ reign of terror. In that sense, the “Fail Mary” was a good thing.
Thursday’s game has nothing to do with that play. Thursday’s game is all about the start of a new season. A Packers win would go a long way toward negotiating a difficult opening month. A loss would breathe even more meaning into the other three games.
If you’re seeking something I might offer in the way of encouragement or comfort as you endure the final hours before “Kickoff,” here’s what I can tell you: The Packers are ready for this. They’ve spent so much time this summer practicing in noise, I would worry more if they were going to play in quiet.
The team the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks are going to face on Thursday is armed with arguably the best combination of run and pass in the league. What do the Packers have on defense? The answer to that question will likely decide the outcome of Thursday’s game.
Yes, it’s all about defense for the Packers. That’s where improvement is needed, and it was targeted during the offseason. If, indeed, the Packers are improved on defense, look out.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Seahawks.
1. Win outside—Packers wide receivers must win their one-on-ones against Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. That’s how you beat the Seahawks.
2. Achieve balance—The game in 2012 is evidence of the importance of balance between run and pass. It wasn’t until the Packers began to run the ball in the second half that Aaron Rodgers had enough time to throw.
3. Do what you did then—Whatever it was that Dom Capers and the defense did against Russell Wilson in 2012, it worked. Wilson was largely ineffective in that game.
4. Avoid the middle of the field—That’s where Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor live, and it’s a nasty neighborhood.
5. Stop the run—It begins with that on defense. If you can’t stop the run, the Seahawks’ play-action game becomes especially effective.
6. Imagine you’re at practice—How can it get any noisier than it was at training camp?
7. Show ’em what you got—OK, we’ve been waiting since March to find out how Julius Peppers is going to be used. It’s time.
8. Keep Wilson in the pocket—It’s when he gets outside the pocket that he becomes a threat.
9. Be physical—That’s the real test in this game. The Seahawks are the most physical team in the league. The Packers must be the Seahawks’ equal.
10. Make the big play—It’s how you win in this league.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 1