Packers Periscope: Saints vs. Packers

We peer into the Packers Periscope to look at the past, present and future of the Saints and the Packers.

Well, nothing like a huge comedown after a euphoric first week. The Packers, with a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter in Atlanta, ended up stalling in all facets, dropping to 1-1 after a 25-24 defeat to the Falcons. Lost in the defensive futility and mere 11 total fourth-quarter yards was another pretty solid effort by Jordan Love. He played well yet again, on the road in a very difficult environment. But ultimately, it wasn't enough to move to 2-0 to start the season. On to the next -- the 2023 home opener at Lambeau Field with a familiar southern foe on the horizon, the New Orleans Saints.

Now, let's raise the Packers Periscope and take a look at the past, present and future of this rivalry.

The Past

Sunday's matchup with New Orleans will be number 28 in the all-time series, with the Packers holding a 17-10 edge. The most recent of which, through a systematic approach of heavy alcohol to completely forget it, was the 2021 season opener. Played in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida, the Packers utterly no-showed losing 38-3 to the hands of future Hall-of-Famer (jk) Jameis Winston.

The previous four matchups, however, were split evenly: The Packers won in New Orleans in 2020 (in an empty Superdome during the pandemic) and at Lambeau Field in 2012. New Orleans won at Lambeau in 2017 26-17, then back in New Orleans 44-23 in 2014.

Looking back to one of the more enjoyable matchups in recent history, the Packers and Saints faced off at Lambeau Field to open up the 2011 season, fresh off the Packers' Super Bowl XLV run. The game had all the pageantry, all the energy you could want in a football game. And, all the points. Green Bay exploded in the first quarter, opening up a 14-0 lead with touchdowns by Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. New Orleans struck back on a Drew Brees-to-Robert Meachem connection, followed by the Pack extending the lead to 21-7 with Aaron Rodgers finding then-rookie Randall Cobb on a 32-yard touchdown. At the half the Packers led 28-17 after running back James Starks found the end zone from 17 yards out.

In the second, the Saints struck first with a John Kasay field goal to cut it to one possession. But on the ensuing kickoff, one of my all-time favorite moments occurred when Randall Cobb took a kickoff 8-yards deep, barrell-rolled off a defender, then housed the kick in electric fashion to extend the lead to 35-20. Saints receiver Devery Henderson struck back shortly thereafter, though, keeping the game in reach.

The fourth quarter kept the fireworks going. Legend John Kuhn punched in a short touchdown to get the lead back to two possessions at 42-27. Late in the game, the Saints connected with Jimmy Graham to make it 42-34. New Orleans would get the ball back and drive all the way down to the Packers 1 with seconds left. And then, this happened:



Just an all-time goal line stuff to ice the game. Fun fact, I was in a bar watching this and went absolutely ballistic, totally embarrassing my then-girlfriend, now wife. I regret nothing.

The Present

At 2-0, New Orleans' defense is bringing in a rather impressive streak into Lambeau Field Sunday. Dating back to last season, they haven't allowed over 20 points against in their last 10 games, extending that streak in a smothering effort Monday in Carolina. Allowing a mere 239 total yards to Bryce Young and the Panthers, New Orleans was about to sack Young four times, forcing him into numerous rushed decisions and pressures. Through two games it appears the Packers boast a better offense than Carolina, but with injuries and still a lot of youth, it's perfectly reasonable to assume Green Bay's offense may struggle as well.

The big thing for the Packers this week is injuries. Already missing David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones and Christian Watson a week ago, stud guard Elgton Jenkins was lost for the next few weeks with an MCL sprain. Apparently Dbak had suffered a little knee swelling going into last week's game, so hopefully that is alleviated going into this week. Going back to Jones and Watson, who both practiced in a limited fashion last week, it remains to be seen if they can make it back. So far, it looks like Watson practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday, but Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Jones did not.

Offensively for New Orleans, the horror that Drew Brees was for so long has now been replaced with significantly-less-scary Derek Carr. Through two games, Carr has mostly whelmed - 44/69, 533 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions. Nothing terrible, nothing worth noting. And that coincidentally sums up his entire career. Weapons-wise, they boast up-and-coming receiver Chris Olave, who seemingly has all the makings of an All-Pro. Back from a couple injury-plagued seasons is Michael Thomas, who seems to be on the tail end of his career just looking to stay healthy. He's received 17 targets in his two games, hauling in 12 of them, so definitely look for the ball to go 13's way this week. Conversely, stud back Alvin Kamara remains suspended. His production is replaced with former Packer (and still fan favorite) Jamaal Williams and Tony Jones, who rumbled for two touchdowns in Monday's win. Oh, and there's do-everything quarterback/tight end/running back Taysom Hill, who had 9 carries for 75 yards Monday. Gang, we can't let Taysom-freaking-Hill run all over us.

In all, the Saints mimic their tough-minded defensive head coach Dennis Allen. They're fast and physical defensively and will absolutely be Jordan Love's toughest test to date. If the Packers get a little healthy this week, it'll go a long way in ensuring they can move the ball enough to score on this defense.

The Future

Sunday, noon local time, the 2023 Green Bay Packers home opener. As someone who gets very antsy for the game, I do love the noon start yet again. Let's get this thing going. Fans, get the beers flowing nice and early.

The betting line at the time of writing this is Packers -2, which essentially means Vegas thinks this is a pickem. Tough to disagree with that - while the Saints are 2-0, they haven't quite set the world on fire - a 16-15 win in a brutally played game over Tennessee, then a too-close-for-comfort win on Monday over a rookie quarterback. I think this week will indeed be both teams' toughest tests, and will inevitably be close. The difference will be the Packers' offense. Can Jordan Love, possibly Aaron Jones and the Brat Pack at receiver score enough? And will the sieve run game for Green Bay stop the power running by Williams (if he plays; he left Monday's game with a hamstring injury) and Jones, or will those two chip away 5 yards at a time? Thankfully, there's no Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson to prepare for. But that still doesn't mean the Saints' run game will be stopped.

We'll all be monitoring the injury report extra closely this week. The Packers will need to be as close to full strength as possible this week to pull out a much-needed win, and put the stink of last week's collapse a little further into the rearview mirror. Either way, the pads will surely be popping come noon Sunday.


Tony Wilson takes pride in journalism training from 2/3 of directional-Michigan MAC schools. A former Sporting News writer, Tony now focuses on the Packers from his home in Toledo, OH. His beer of choice is a Miller Lite from the bottom of the cooler. You can find him on Twitter @GlassCityPack.

4 points

Comments (8)

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BAMABADGER's picture

September 20, 2023 at 06:19 pm

Who has faith in any Barry scheme to stop the run. Apparently Williams is out with an injury. Look for a heavy dose of Allen, matickeration with Hill plus passing to Olave and Thomas (who is still good).

If we can’t run against the Saints, it could make for a long Sunday.


1 points
Coldworld's picture

September 20, 2023 at 06:26 pm

What run? It’s likely Hill if he’s recovered. I think we can restrict him as we did Fields, unless one of they’re back up, backups turns into an all star running back.

I’d be more worried about Olave and their deep speed versus our deep coverage. Yes, now there you might have a point.

1 points
LLCHESTY's picture

September 20, 2023 at 07:33 pm

They should be pretty one dimensional and play into the defenses hands(🤞). Much better tackles than Atlanta though, some of the rush is going to have to come from inside.

Ford is probably safe on the PS this week. If the Saints run 82 plays LaFleur will have a big decision to make.

-1 points
Coldworld's picture

September 21, 2023 at 08:10 am

Yes, this is a game that Barry’s personnel usage should fit. As you point out, the athletic smaller DL will be key in this one. If we can’t pressure Carr, we’d better hope our safeties shock us in a hugely positive way.

We never tested the Falcons tackles, so their weaknesses were never a factor. The strength of their IOL was. This week, we face a saints team that has struggled against the run. If Jones can’t go, we need to think hard about where our snaps go.

I’d tell Dillon to quit worrying about pad level and just run hard. I’d also run Wilson 50% of the time and then go with the hotter hand. If either is ineffective, try Taylor up the middle later too instead. He’s a hard runner who falls forward.

0 points
LLCHESTY's picture

September 20, 2023 at 07:25 pm

Saints set a franchise record Monday with 10 straight game not allowing 20 points. I was a little surprised at that considering how good they were with the Dome Patrol.

Points are going to be hard to come by, hopefully no mistakes like the 1st drive last week. I'm also sick of hearing how a 56 yarder is a gimme for Carlson, that's pretty asinine after this preseason. Kuhn also said he missed a couple long ones in warmups including a doink.

0 points
SicSemperTyrannis's picture

September 20, 2023 at 08:15 pm

It's not that anything is a gimme from Carlson, it's that the difference of 52 or 57 yards is meaningless to him. He either makes it or misses. Not one of his kicks has been phased by that difference.

5 points
PhantomII's picture

September 20, 2023 at 09:13 pm

Williams is hurt. Too bad, Gute let him walk....A change of pace RB that always ran hard, with good hands in the pass game. We really need someone like him, NOW.

2 points
Coldworld's picture

September 21, 2023 at 08:13 am

We couldn’t afford both Williams and Jones. I think that we all knew that and I think we made the right choice. I tend to think that we might have such a guy in Wilson, but whether we let him run enough to prove that one way or the other is open to doubt.

4 points