Heading into camp, we’ll take a quick look through the opponents on the 2014 schedule.
First up: The Green Bay Packers.
When: Week 1, Sept. 4, 5:30 p.m. at CenturyLink Field. NFL season opener on Thursday Night Football.
Last season: 8-7-1; season ended with 23-20 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers in a wild-card game.
What went right: Despite Aaron Rodgers playing only nine games because of a broken collarbone, the Packers’ offense was a force. Green Bay finished sixth in passing yards and seventh in rushing yards. RB Eddie Lacy powered his way to 1,178 yards (just 79 fewer yards than Marshawn Lynch despite 17 fewer carries, earning him Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl spot) and James Starks ran for another 493 (5.5 per carry). Lacy’s yardage was the most by a Green Bay running back since Ryan Grant’s 1,253 in 2009. He also broke John Brockington’s franchise rookie rushing record that had stood for 42 years.
What did not: The defense was woeful. The Packers were 25th in yards allowed, just a touch ahead of two of the worst teams in the league last year, Jacksonville and Atlanta. Also, Green Bay was 24th in points allowed. That’s why it took free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the 21st overall pick. Doug Farrar has a nice overview of the Packers’ defense, and what Clinton-Dix may mean to it, over at SI.com. The linebackers remain suspect, however. Inside linebacker Brad Jones was a -4.1 last season, according to the player ratings at Profootbalfocus.com. Fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk was ranked by PFF in the bottom five in the league against the run among inside linebackers (incidentally, Bruce Irvin was last among outside linebackers).
2014 Super Bowl odds: 12:1
Key offseason addition: DE Julius Peppers. The 34-year-old Peppers was given a $7.5 million signing bonus to leave Chicago and join Green Bay. Peppers had seven sacks last season, tied for his fewest in a year when he played 16 games. Peppers’ signed a three-year, $26 million contract with just $7.5 million guaranteed. He goes from a $3.5 million cap hit in 2014, to a $12 million cap hit next season. Peppers joins a Green Bay defense that allowed a lot of points, but was tied for eighth in sacks (with the Seahawks) last season.
Key offseason loss: WR James Jones. Jones had a career-high 817 receiving yards last season a year after catching 14 touchdowns. He signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Oakland Raiders. Green Bay drafted Davante Adams out of Fresno State to fill the gap.
Last regular-season meeting: How could anyone forget? Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. The Seahawks won, 14-12, on Golden Tate’s Hail Mary “catch.”