Maggie’s Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 1

Welcome to season two of Maggie’s Pre-Game Six Pack! Each Friday morning during the season, I’ll be giving you six things to keep an eye on going into that week’s Packers game. This can be anything from a key matchup or player to watch to an impressive stat or a player chasing history. Now let’s dive into Week 1 Packers vs Saints! 

1. Cornering the Saints Defense

The Saints have no corners. Okay. Maybe that’s not entirely true. But the Saints, at least right now, only have three available corners for Sunday’s matchup. Marshon Lattimore is a three-time Pro Bowl player, but he’ll have his hands full shadowing Davante Adams (or at least, he should shadow Adams given the status of the rest of the CB room). He was also just added to the injury report on Thursday as a limited participant with a knee injury. Ken Crawley was projected to start opposite Lattimore, but he hasn’t practiced this week and remains questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury. Behind them, there’s only rookie third-round pick Paulson Adebo and veteran holdover Desmond Trufant. Trufant did make a Pro Bowl in 2015, but he was with the Bears this offseason and didn’t make the initial 53-man roster, so what he’ll bring to the Saints remains a mystery. New Orleans also signed Bradley Roby to bolster the unit, but he’s suspended Week 1 and won’t be on the field against the Packers. Perhaps familiar face Ka’dar Hollman will get a call-up from the practice squad for Sunday’s outing. Regardless, it should be a big day for Green Bay’s receivers. 

2. Unprecedented 17th Season for Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers will make franchise history on Sunday when he leads the Packers onto the field for his 17th NFL season. Despite Green Bay’s rich history, no player has ever been with the team for more than 16 seasons. Both Bart Starr and Brett Favre spent 16 seasons with the team, and kicker Mason Crosby ties linebacker Ray Nitschke this year at 15 seasons. Coming off his third MVP, nobody knows what the future holds for No. 12 beyond this season. Whether he’s back under center in 2022, retires, or leaves for a different team, he’ll have made history as the only player to be with the franchise 17 seasons, and that’s pretty damn cool. 

3. You're Going to be a Star! 

We’ll get our first look at Joe Barry’s defense on Sunday. According to passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, Jaire Alexander, Chandon Sullivan, and Darnell Savage have all taken reps in the star role. That said, we won’t know who actually starts at the star position until Green Bay’s defense takes the field. My guess is it’s still Sullivan to start initially. The safety unit is a little depleted right now with only Henry Black available behind Savage and Adrian Amos. Vernon Scott has yet to practice this week. However, without Saints receiver Michael Thomas to worry about on the boundary, it’s possible Barry will put Alexander in the slot to help defend the middle of the field against the explosive Alvin Kamara. The Saints, of course, are marching in without Drew Brees under center, but Jameis Winston has a strong arm and can absolutely push the ball down the field. For every big play he can make with his arm, the Packers secondary also has to be ready to capitalize on one of his poor decisions. 

4. Rookies on the O-Line

The offensive line will be without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari for at least the first six games of the season. In his absence, future All-Pro (it’s true) Elgton Jenkins will slide from left guard and fill in at tackle. With veteran Billy Turner locking down the right tackle spot, that left the interior of the line up for grabs. Second-round draft pick Josh Myers ran away with the starting center spot early, but he won’t be without growing pains on Sunday. What’s been most surprising this offseason is the emergence of fourth-round pick Royce Newman, who was a late entrant into the guard position battle and ended up winning the starting spot at right guard over Jon Runyan Jr. and Ben Braden. He even displaced last year’s right guard Lucas Patrick, who will start Sunday at left guard for the Packers. The interior of the Saints defensive line is one of the weakest positions on the defense, but ends Marcus Davenport and Cam Jordan can absolutely wreck games rushing off the edge. It’ll be trial by fire on Sunday as Myers and Newman make their first NFL starts against a stout defense and attempt to keep Rodgers upright. 

5. Oh, You Wanted Weapons?

The Packers had the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL in 2020, and they could be even better in 2021. In addition to having the league’s best wide receiver in Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has also been vocal about having his best camp. Second-year running back AJ Dillon is ready to complement Aaron Jones in the backfield, and his draftmate Josiah Deguara (a LaFleur favorite) is finally healthy. That also doesn’t include the addition of fan favorite (and Rodgers favorite) Randall Cobb, or third-round draft pick Amari Rodgers as two potential slot options. Add in options like Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and Marcedes Lewis, and we almost run into trouble figuring out how Rodgers can spread the ball around.

6. The Opposite of a Frozen Tundra

The early forecast for Sunday’s game at TIAA Bank Field is 86 degrees and sunny. That’s much different than playing in Caesars Superdome. LaFleur has talked all week about the need to keep his players hydrated, and that’ll be put to the test already Week 1. Even despite the Saints’ attempts to find a location that was tough for Packers fans to get to, it sounds like there will be plenty of green and gold in the stands on Sunday. If you’ll be at the game, make sure you get loud! And enjoy the NFL’s longest season now that we’ve got 17 regular season matchups to look forward to. 

We’ve officially made it, Packers fans. The 2021 NFL Season is upon us. Go Pack Go!

 

----------------------------

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

12 points

Comments (13)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
NickPerry's picture

September 10, 2021 at 07:10 am

Last year Allen Lazard had fantastic game against the Saints without Adams and I think he's has a quiet summer so I'll watch him again. BUT the player on offense I'll be watching closely is MVS. There's been a lot of hype about MVS this summer so I'm really pulling for him. MVS is probably the WR the Packers will try to sign this offseason IF he really makes that jump to an all around WR and not just a bombs away guy.

To be honest I'm not overly concerned about this offense. Last season the had LESS time to play together under much tougher circumstances and tore teams up. Defenses may have had a year to adjust, but MLF has had another offseason to add in even MORE of his awesome offense. I'm telling you guys, people are soon to be calling this the MLF Offense and leaving out Shanahan and McVay all together.

The defense is what has me both excited and concerned. TJ Slaton has impressed me, a man that big who can move that quickly and is that strong just out of college is going to really help this Defense. The Packers ILB should be better under Barry too. I like the Campbell addition and I think Barnes will be better in year 2. BUT the position I'll be really watching on Defense is who's opposite of Alexander. That position cost the Packers a SB last year even more than losing Bakhtiari.

Last thing... Stokes and Rashan Gary. Stokes will only be better after a summer of being picked on by Davante Adams. I expect Stokes to get playing time no matter how well King may or may not be doing. THIS is going to be the breakout year for Gary. Whether or not Z Smith is ready, Gary is the future of this OLB group and it starts week one against one of the best O-Lines in the NFL. Not just rushing the passer but HOLDING the damn edge in the run game will be vital, ESPECIALLY against Kamara and the Saints.

GO PACK GO!

+ REPLY
8 points
8
0
dobber's picture

September 10, 2021 at 08:30 am

The strongest unit the Saints will put on the field on Sunday is their offensive line. That's a real good group, and likely better than any OL Winston had with Tampa. The Packers will have to work hard to pressure Winston and will need to be assignment sure to stop Kamara.

Winston has never been very accurate and has never been a checkdown guy, but if he takes those checkdowns and easy completions, I can see the Saints moving the ball consistently and Winston being effective. Problem for the Saints is that they're also decimated in their receiver group, so they might struggle to get open or make much happen. I don't see their defense holding the Packers under 35, so that puts a lot of pressure on Winston to put points up on each possession...which leads to trying to do too much and making mistakes.

I agree: MVS could be in for a big day on Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised if Tonyan has a couple big plays, too.

I'm usually pretty conservative in my guesses, but I see this as a win: Packers 38-27. I expect Winston to pick up garbage-time points late.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Since'61's picture

September 10, 2021 at 09:12 am

Nick, excelent points as usual! Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Since'61's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:44 am

The Saints are weak at DT. Inn fact they have 2 former Packers as DTs. One of them is C. Ringo (Yikes) and M. Adams. Our new OL should be able to open up holes and our RBs should be able to gash them for nice gains. Run straight at them, wear them down and keep the Saints offense on the sidelines.

If we can play with a lead that will help our pass rush, mitigate Kamara's impact on the game and hopefully lead to mistakes by Winston.

We'll find out if the MVS hype train is real or just hype. Much of which MVS has created himself. Just catch the damn ball!!!

I don't know what to expect on defense but given the expected warm weather conditions I think we will see plenty of our defensive players rotating in and out to keep fresh legs on the field. Expect Peyton to go with his gadget plays. He has a knack for knowing exactly when to use them.

Except for Crosby, hold your breath when the STs are on the field.

Assuming that the Packers do not come out flat I think the offense will get the job done against a depleted Saints defense. I like the Pack 34-20. GPG!
Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
Tingham's picture

September 10, 2021 at 09:28 am

I think it is actually Christian Ringo. But your point is spot on. Neither he or Adams ever made a dent in our weakest position group. Quadzilla may have a field day.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
dobber's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:06 am

Rich Wingo was one of my favorites back in the day. He used to wear the old neck-roll. Ah, memories...

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Since'61's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:44 am

You are correct it is Ringo. Correcting my post. Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Spock's picture

September 10, 2021 at 09:58 am

61' if MVS plays anything like he did in the NFC game he should do just fine (he was the best playing WR that day). As for ST we've got Crosby and I was surprised to learn that our new punter kicks left footed but is actually right-handed so I'm less concerned about his holding for extra points. I was reading on another Packers' site (I think Acme Packers) that the Saints don't even have a kicker on their 53 right now (although they can call up one from their PS)! Be interesting to see what their kick-offs look like! GPG!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Since'61's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:46 am

I’m not sure who the Saints GM is but I can’t imagine how he let his team reach such a state to be without a kicker. Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
NickPerry's picture

September 11, 2021 at 03:21 am

"Run straight at them, wear them down and keep the Saints offense on the sidelines."

Absolutely right on the money Since '61. I can't wait to watch Dillion start getting 10 to 12 or more carries a game. The thing about these rookies we have starting is both are big and strong. I think in most cases, rookie O-Lineman have a easier time run blocking than pass blocking early in their rookie seasons.

Meyers is two inches taller and has about 20 pounds on Corey Lindsey when he came out in 2014 draft. Newman is the same size as Meyers so the Packers have two pretty BIG boys up there leading the way against what's probably the weakest spot on the Saints (DT) other than the WR.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Since'61's picture

September 11, 2021 at 11:01 pm

Nick I think you are correct about Myers and Newman. I’d put Lewis and Deguara out there as well to lead our RBs to the second level and dare the Saints to stop them.
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

September 10, 2021 at 10:55 am

Hello, Newman. He and Myers have been touted as good run blockers, this could make for a dominant ball control and big play-action gains game. Also, playing later in the afternoon should reduce some of the heat. Pack 37- 23, hate making these dominant predictions because I become superstitious. I know , "when you believe in things you don't understand , you suffer". LOL

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
ScottW's picture

September 12, 2021 at 10:14 am

Great set up to the game Maggie. Folks, if you don’t read Maggie’s articles or listen to her Podcasts you are missing out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.