Each week, Press-Gazette Media will look ahead with three storylines for the Green Bay Packers' next game. This week, the opponent is the Seattle Seahawks. Here's a glimpse of what to watch for when the Packers open their home schedule against the Seahawks on Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
1. The rematch: Eight months later, the gory details already occupy some of the darker pieces of Packers lore. Two words – "the collapse" – forever will conjure painful memories of a January afternoon in Seattle. The Packers had a 19-7 lead with less than 5 minutes left in last season’s NFC Championship Game, but the Seahawks rallied to win in overtime.
The team that miraculously kept the Packers from punching a ticket to Super Bowl XLIX returns Sunday, and there’s undoubtedly some revenge on the line. But the Packers also will be looking ahead, focused on this opportunity.
Finally, they will get a shot at the Seahawks at Lambeau Field. It’s the first time Seattle has traveled to Green Bay since 2009, snapping a streak of three straight miserable games in Seattle. There was the Fail Mary in 2012, the 20-point blowout loss in last season’s opener, and of course the NFC title game meltdown.
But the Packers have beaten the Seahawks five straight times at Lambeau Field, including playoff victories in 2008 and 2003. If they extend that streak, it could be a big emotional boost moving forward with the new season.
2. Beast Mode: Matt Forte, the Bears running back who ran all over the Packers' defense on Sunday, is a talented player. He’s not Marshawn Lynch.
After starting Week 1 ranked last in run defense, the Packers must contend with one of the NFL’s elite running backs. As a powerful, downhill runner, Lynch is an especially difficult matchup for a Packers defense that struggled tackling at every level in its defense.
Lynch had 157 rushing yards in January, but the Packers’ defense had him mostly bottled up until the game’s final two drives. But this Packers defense will be different.
With defensive end Letroy Guion serving the second game in his three-game suspension, and strong safety Morgan Burnett’s status with a calf injury unknown, the Packers will have to face Lynch at less than full strength. It’s hard enough to stop Lynch when everything is going right.
3. Playoff positioning: You read that right. It may be September, only the second week of the season, but already the Packers play a game that could have significant playoff implications four months down the road.
Last season’s opening loss in Seattle gets lost in the shuffle of the recent history in this series. It was just the first game of the season, but it ended up being critically important. The Packers and Seahawks finished last season with the top two playoff seeds in the NFC, both with 12-4 records. A win in the opener would have moved the NFC title game to Lambeau Field.
Just a reminder that even in a 16-game season, it’s never too early for must-win games.