Packers Hoping to Catch Saints at a Good Time

Green Bay may be playing the New Orleans Saints at the perfect time.

As the old saying goes, it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them.

Two years ago, Packers fans would have been petrified at the thought of Patrick Mahomes torching the Green Bay defence at Arrowhead Stadium. But by the time the game rolled around, it had turned into a showdown between Aaron Rodgers and middling veteran Matt Moore.

Last year, Green Bay travelled to the house of horrors that had been Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, and were given a helping hand in exorcising their demons, as the 49ers roster became ravaged with injuries and COVID cases leading up to the game.

For various reasons, the Packers may be catching the New Orleans Saints at the perfect time, as they look to kick off the 2021 season with an opening day win.

Location

The most obvious advantage Green Bay has in this matchup is that is has now been moved to a neutral site. The situation in New Orleans is terrible and of course far bigger than any football game, but from a pure competitive advantage standpoint, avoiding the raucous Superdome crowd for a second year in a row (after no fans could attend last season) is a big win.

Despite the best efforts of the Saints to find the location most difficult for Packer backers to travel to, there’s every chance there are more green and gold jerseys in the stands than black and old gold. That’s good news for Aaron Rodgers, who will be able to use his hard count and operate the offense as normal… unless people are doing the wave *ducks*.

As we have been relentlessly informed since the relocation was confirmed, it’s hot in Florida. While the heat is no doubt a challenge, it will be hot for both teams, so all the hand-wringing over the weather and Matt LaFleur’s concerning tracking of his player’s urine colour (not something I ever expected to type) might be a bit much.

New QB in New Orleans

It’s going to be weird watching a starting quarterback for the Saints not named Drew Brees, and Green Bay will be looking to take advantage of the combustible Jameis Winston in his first start on Sunday.

You could argue that by the end of Brees’ final season in NO, Winston might have been the better quarterback, as number 9’s arm began to fail him. With Sean Payton as his play caller, Winston could absolutely have a successful season, which is why going against him in week one is the best-case scenario for the Packers.

This is a team likely to get better as the year goes on, as Winston becomes more comfortable and the Saints offensive brain trust figure out what works and what doesn’t. Drawing the Saints to open the season is a good thing for Green Bay.

No Michael Thomas

Last time these two sides squared off, both teams were missing their superstar wide receiver. This year, the Packers will have the edge as Davante Adams suits up while Michael Thomas starts the season on the PUP list.

Marquez Callaway has impressed in pre-season action, and the former undrafted free agent could have caused some serious problems versus Green Bay’s second and third cornerbacks if All-Pro Jaire Alexander had been busy guarding Thomas.

Callaway is still a threat at wide receiver, and even hearing the name Alvin Kamara will give Packers fans flashbacks to approximately 85 missed tackles from Green Bay last year, but without Thomas, there is one less thing to worry about.

Cornerback issues

Like the Packers, New Orleans have one staple cornerback in Marshon Lattimore (although not as good as Alexander) and then some question marks. However, if fans are worried about the prospect of Kevin King still being the number two corner heading into the season, they should take a look at what the Saints have going on.

New Orleans have only three cornerbacks available for Sunday behind Lattimore, due to Bradley Roby, who they just traded for, being suspended for week one (another break for Green Bay). That leaves rookie Paulson Adebo, Desmond Trufant and Ken Crawley, who didn’t practice on Wednesday.

As long as the Packers’ new look offensive line can buy Rodgers enough time, the reigning MVP will be salivating at the opportunity to pick apart the Saints and their underwhelming stable of defensive backs.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

6 points

Comments (14)

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

September 09, 2021 at 07:02 am

Wife and I will be there. Got tired of hearing how the Saints front office picked Jacksonville to make it harder for GB fans to get there. Go Pack!

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k.rock87's picture

September 09, 2021 at 07:20 am

Have fun! Be Safe! Yell a bunch of extra "Go Pack Go" for those of us that can't go!

California Packer fan here. Hubby and I have been able to go to Green Bay 4 times, attending 1 game, 2 family nights and a bunch of training camp practices.

Go Packers!

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

September 09, 2021 at 12:54 pm

I hope the whole damn place is green and gold. Have fun!

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

September 09, 2021 at 07:23 am

Well, if the preseason is any indicator, we might actually be better off with fewer "fans" in the stands... SMH

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dobber's picture

September 09, 2021 at 08:26 am

Winston likes to chuck it, and Callaway can run, but I don't see that as being enough to take the heat off Kamara. This might be another game where we see some 4th quarter, garbage time scoring against the Packers--Winston made that his calling-card in TB.

5 points
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Since'61's picture

September 09, 2021 at 09:04 am

Run the ball on offense. Stop Kamara on defense.
Good, early test for our OL.

If the game is close late watch out for gadget play with Taysom Hill.

If we don’t come out flat we should take this game. GPG!
Thanks, Since ‘61

6 points
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PeteK's picture

September 09, 2021 at 09:32 am

Winston will have success in NO and Kamara will get his yds, but Packers have too much firepower on both sides of the ball. Rodgers will play catch with his many receivers and than pound the rock with our inside/outside duo.

7 points
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Lphill's picture

September 09, 2021 at 09:39 am

Packers should fear no team this article makes it sound like that, the Packers lead by Rodgers should roll over the saints regardless of where the game is , it should not be a close game at all .

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Qoojo's picture

September 09, 2021 at 10:28 am

No idea what is going to happen, it all depends on which offense can shake the rust off vs the opposing defense, and which team can make fewer mental mistakes. On the surface, you would think that the packers have an edge on offense due to familiarity with system and Rodgers. On defense, no idea what to expect.

Over/under on missed tackles? Remember the Kamara run in last year's game?

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splitpea1's picture

September 09, 2021 at 11:16 am

My thoughts exactly on the Saints CBs issues....We might be able to light that secondary up like a pinball machine early and often, especially with a fresh rookie probably seeing the field a lot.

On defense, stopping Kamara is easier said than done, but we have to do better than we did last time; big test for our new DC. Something we will have to worry about are potential gadget plays (particularly on third down or maybe fourth down), so we'll see how well the defense is prepared and able to react if the situation presents itself.

We should be able to win this game if we don't beat ourselves. Special teams coverage on kickoffs is a minor concern, though. I don't foresee us doing much punting.

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mnbadger's picture

September 09, 2021 at 12:32 pm

The most obvious advantage Green Bay has in this matchup is that is . . . the roster! By far it's the roster. Very few positions does N.O. have an advantage over their GBP counterpart. I don't care where it's played! GPG!

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ricky's picture

September 09, 2021 at 01:36 pm

The Saints have to be aware that if you get behind Kevin King, he can't cover. So, expect them to try some longer passes against King, trying to test him. And although you may be tired of hearing about the heat, believe me, it makes a difference. Try going outside and literally feeling the weight of the sun on you as you walk your dogs. It makes a difference.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 09, 2021 at 05:16 pm

Pound the rock with Jones and Dillon and then spell the runners with Hill. Wear that defense down and then throw to ball to Adams, Lazard or a streaking MVS. A strong running game will open the passing game. The Packers are loaded with talent at running back and receiving. Keep the sticks moving on 3rd down and throw to the open receiver instead of going deep all the time. Plenty of talent on this team. Spread the wealth. Force a couple of turnovers and this game will go in the win column for the Packers.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 10, 2021 at 01:52 pm

It looks like Z will be a game time decision at best. I don’t think he will play. So it’s up the the rest of the defense to pressure a QB who can escape the pocket and throw the long ball. Missing Z will hurt. However, Gary has come on strong and our defensive line looks good.

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