It’s the first week of the NFL regular season and before I begin talking about it, why don’t we take a moment to be thankful that football is back. Now I know college football started last week and I’m aware that the preseason started over a month ago, but for an NFL guy like me, Wednesday night was the beginning of the best time of the year. The Giants and Cowboys already gave us an exciting game. The Cowboys pulled out a 24-17 win on the back of breakout number three receiver Kevin Ogletree. On Sunday, 26 of the NFL’s 32 teams will take the field trying to do what the Cowboys did and start the season of with a win. There will also be many players suiting up Sunday who are hoping that Ogletree is not the only player who’s going to surprise people this year.
One player who has already surprised NFL fans is the Seahawks own quarterback Russell Wilson. The Rookie Wilson was not supposed to be the Seahawks starter; people thought he was a developmental prospect who could start a few years from now. Wilson was having none of that and went out to grab the job. He did so with impressive second halves in the first two preseason games and then went and proved himself when given the chance to start the third preseason game. Now Wilson is hoping to start his regular season career with a victory over division rival the Arizona Cardinals.
Wilson won’t be able to do it himself, and with starting running back Marshawn Lynch day to day with back spasms, the Seahawks are really going to need some players to step up. If Lynch can’t go this week, Wilson will likely be joined in the back field by another rookie, running back Robert Turpin. Even if Lynch does play, Turpin is going to be needed to take some of the pressure off of him. Turpin and Lynch have similar running styles so if the rookie is able to keep the game from getting too big for him, something his quarterback excels at, expect the Seahawks to continue to have a strong running game.
A strong running game creates holes in the passing game. Wilson has shown in the preseason that he is able to find those holes, but who will he be throwing to? Is projected number one receiver Sidney Rice healed enough to put the team on his back? Is Braylon Edwards the guy who caught 80 passes in 2007 or the guy who only appeared in nine games and only had 15 catches last year? Is Doug Baldwin going to be able to find the openings he found last year now that he’s no longer under the radar? Are any of the Seahawks other three receivers, Charly Martin, Golden Tate, or Ben Obomanu, going to make a big impact on the game? The answers to all of those questions really depend on which receiver/s Russell Wilson is most comfortable with. All reports indicate that Wilson has developed a good rapport with Braylon Edwards so look for Wilson to target him early and often.
A week one game against a divisional rival is a big deal. It’s not going to make or break a season but a win this week would put the Seahawks on the right track to make it back to the playoffs. If the Seahawks are going to win this week, it will take a solid showing from the running game but with a passing game that’s going to have to grow up quickly throughout the season, the Seahawks are really going to have to hang their hats on the defense. That’s not a bad thing with the Seahawks returning most of the starters from a top ten defense from a year ago. Taking that defense against a team that didn’t name a starting quarterback, because neither of their top two quarterbacks was terribly impressive, until this week is definitely a good thing for the Seahawks. Expect the defense to throttle the Cardinals offense as the Seahawks start the season off with a win.