WHEN: 8:30 p.m. est Sept. 8th
WHERE: Lambeau Field
TV: Al Michaels (play-by-play) & Cris Collinsworth (analyst) for NBC
RADIO: Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) & Larry McCarren (analyst) for AM-620 and Packer Radio Network
INTERNET: Cheesehead TV Gameday Live Blog
All eyes will be on two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks – New Orleans’ DREW BREES and Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS – when the 2011 season kicks off on Thursday night in primetime (NBC, 8:30 PM ET) as the defending Super Bowl champion Packers host the Super Bowl XLIV champion Saints.
The game features the past two Super Bowl MVPs. Brees was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV in New Orleans’ 31-17 win and Rodgers took home the honor last year in Green Bay’s 31-25 Super Bowl XLV victory.
This meeting marks the fifth time in NFL history – and first since 1993 – that Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks started against one another on Kickoff Weekend.
Aaron Rodgers, the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, looks to continue his impressive play for the defending champions. Last year, he led the NFC with a 101.2 passer rating and is the only quarterback in franchise history to post a 100.0+ rating in consecutive seasons (103.2 in 2009). He passed for 3,922 yards in 2010 and his 12,394 yards since becoming the starter in 2008 are the second most by a quarterback in his first three years as a starter (Kurt Warner, 12,612). Rodgers’ career passer rating of 98.4 is the highest mark in NFL history (minimum 1,500 attempts).
Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees topped the NFL last year with a 68.1 completion percentage and led the NFC in yards (4,620), touchdowns (33), completions (448) and attempts (658). Since joining the Saints in 2006, his 22,918 passing yards are the most by a quarterback in any five-year span in NFL history. He has passed for at least 4,000 yards in each of the past five years – the top five passing totals in club annals – and is one of only two QBs in NFL history (Peyton Manning) with at least five consecutive 4,000-yard seasons. Brees’ 448 completions marked his league-record third 400-completion season.
From the Dope Sheet:
- Green Bay kicks off its 93rd season in team history – and 91st as a member of the National Football League – by hosting New Orleans on Thursday evening in a nationally televised contest, just the third Thursday night game in Lambeau Field annals.
- The game will be a matchup of the last two Super Bowl winners, the first time since 2000 and the seventh time ever that the two most recent world champions will meet in Week 1. In 2000, the St. Louis Rams, who won Super Bowl XXXIV, hosted the Denver Broncos, who won Super Bowl XXXIII, on Monday Night Football in the season opener.
- It will mark the third time in the past four seasons that the Packers have opened the season with a nationally televised prime-time contest at home, and the first time in franchise history that Green Bay kicked off a season on a Thursday. In 2008, Green Bay hosted Minnesota on Monday Night Football, while in 2009, the Packers played host to Chicago in a Sunday night contest.
- Green Bay is 5-0 all-time in prime-time season openers (four on Monday night, one on Sunday night).
- This will be only the second time in team history that the Packers have opened the season against the Saints. Green Bay traveled to New Orleans for the 1977 season opener and emerged victorious, 24-20.
- The Saints will be making only their fourth trip to Lambeau Field in franchise history (the teams played seven times in Milwaukee from 1968-85), with the most recent visit coming in 2006. This will be the fourth time overall in the past seven seasons that the teams have met.
- Green Bay and New Orleans are the only two teams in the league to finish in the top 10 in total offense each of the past five seasons.
- Thursday’s game is also a matchup of the two most successful teams in the NFC since 2006. Including the postseason, the Packers rank No. 2 in the conference in winning percentage at .609 (53-34), trailing only New Orleans (.616, 53-33) over that span.
- For the fifth time in six years under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Green Bay will start its season in front of the home crowd at Lambeau Field.
- The Packers have won four straight season openers overall (2007-10), the first time since 1996-1999 that the team emerged victorious in four consecutive opening games. The last time Green Bay won five straight season openers was in 1980-84.
- Green Bay is the lone NFC team to win its season opener each of the past four years, joining New England and Pittsburgh as the only teams in the league to accomplish the feat over that span.
- McCarthy is the first Packers head coach to win four consecutive season openers since Bart Starr did so from 1980-83.
- Home openers have become near habit for the Packers, as 31 of 42 regular-season openers since the AFL-NFL merger (1970) have been in front of a home crowd.
- Since McCarthy took over in 2006, the Packers have an 11-6 (.647) mark in the month of September. That winning percentage is tied for No. 5 in the NFL over that span.
THE PACKERS-SAINTS SERIES
- These teams meet for the fourth time in seven seasons after having met only once in the previous nine years.
- These clubs launched their series in 1968, when former Vince Lombardi assistants Phil Bengston (Packers) and Tom Fears (Saints) met in Milwaukee. The Packers, one year after winning Super Bowl II, defeated the second-year Saints, 29-7. Fears, who coached Super Bowl I hero Max McGee with the Packers from 1962-65, was New Orleans’ first head coach.
- Green Bay’s 52-3 victory in 2005 was the most lopsided in the series history, eclipsing the Packers’ 35-7 victory in New Orleans on Dec. 13, 1981.
LAST MEETING, REGULAR SEASON
- Nov. 24, 2008, at Louisiana Superdome; Saints won, 51-29.
- Saints QB Drew Brees connected on 20-of-26 passes for 323 yards and four TDs to lead New Orleans to victory. Brees threw two 70-yard TD passes, to WRs Lance Moore and Marques Colston.
- QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 248 yards and two TDs on 23-of-41 passing, but was intercepted three times on the evening. Rodgers added a rushing TD.
- WR Greg Jennings led the Packers with eight receptions, which matched his career high, for 101 yards and a score.
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