New Orleans Saints (0-3) @ Green Bay Packers (1-2) - Last week’s results: Seattle beat Green Bay 14-12 and Kansas City beat New Orleans in overtime 27-24
Series history – Green Bay leads the series 15-7 with the last meeting between the two teams coming back in week one of the 2011 season. The Packers edged the Saints in that game in a thriller, 42-34. New Orleans has won two of the last three meetings between the two.
The line – Green Bay is a 7 ½ point favorite. with the total being 54.
If only Fox could have the luxury of flex scheduling this game early in the season. A year ago, these two powers kicked off the 2011 NFL season with a dramatic game that ended with the Packers keeping the Saints out of the end zone on the final play of the game.
Now, these two teams are desperate and in much need of a win. 1-3 is much better than 0-4 for the Saints, and ce,rtainly 2-2 is far greater than 1-3 for the Packers. The key match-up here is the struggling Packers offense facing the struggling Saints defense.
New Orleans gives up on average 477.3 yards per game while the Packers are gaining only a shade over 300 yards of offense per outing in their first three games this season. Neither team has proven that they can rush the ball consistently, as the Saints average 92.7 yards per game, and the Packers fare far worse at 78.3-yards per game.
But when you look at what team is having trouble getting it done, it makes the match-up even more interesting. Green Bay has trouble running the football, and the Saints cant’s top the run. Green Bay has not scored in the first quarter this season, the Saints have put up 24 points in the first. Green Bay’s defense is good, New Orleans’ is not! You get the point, now don’t you?
What they are saying
Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy on his defensive improvements
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence. We’re doing a good job of moving some veteran players around and creating some problems, whether it’s Clay Matthews or Charles Woodson. I think the depth on our defensive line has helped us and I can’t be more excited about our young players. Our young players are playing their role and contributing. That whole blend has been good for us the last two weeks. I feel good about what we’ve been able to accomplish. This will be our biggest challenge this year.”
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers on a surprising match-up of losing teams:
“Yeah, I expected maybe both teams to be 3-0 at this point going in, but we both had some frustrating games. They’ve had a couple of real close ones and so have we. There’s still a lot of the season left to go. They have a lot of pride on that team and a lot of talented players and so do we. It’s going to be one of the 1-2 versus 0-3 matchups you’re going to see.”
Saints Coach Aaron Kromer on his team being criticized:
“I think that the criticism of the o-line is justified. I think the criticism of the receivers, the tight ends, the quarterbacks and the running backs is justified because we are 0-3. I think it is all justified and we need to do a better job as a team.”
A few things to keep an eye on!
1. First quarter scoring – The Saints have scored a total of 24 points in the first quarter of games this season, while the Packers have yet to score in the first quarter of a game. If the Saints are going to steal one away from GB at Lambeau, getting off to a hot start in the first quarter would be a good thing.
2. Cheese Heads O vs Swiss Cheese D – The Green Bay offense has not been as solid as in past years. Right now, the Packers are scoring only 19 points per game and averaging just 304 yards of total offense. On the flip side, the Saints defense is allowing a lot of everything to their opponents. New Orleans gives up 34 points per game and 477 yards of total offense. Will the Cheese Heads O run through the holes of the Saints Swiss Cheese D?
3. Get into rhythm early – If Green Bay gets off to good start pressuring Drew Brees, it could be a very long day for the Saints. Let’s face it, on paper, if the Saints have a chance in this game it will be due to their offense. Green Bay gets on average four sacks per game. If the Packers bring the heat early, it could be a sign of a hassle-filled day for Saints QB Drew Brees.
4. Special Teams be special – The last time these two teams met, both squads got great returns from their play-makers. Green Bay’s Randall Cobb and the Saints’ Darren Sproles could be the difference in this game. If Sproles can give the Saints a much-needed spark of a big return that ends with a score or a short field for the offense to work with, it could be a big factor into which team wins this game.
5. Ratings game? – If I would have told you that after three games into the 2012 season the Saints would be 0-3 and the Pack 1-2, you would have called me a fool. Even worse, can you believe that Aaron has a QB rating of 87 and Drew’s rating is 77? Whichever QB has the better rating at the end of the day will more than likely lead his team to victory.
6. One thing! - I asked Coach Kromer if he could have one stat in his favor what would it be. He quickly replied: Win the turnover battle! If the Saints are at the very least not even in the turnover battle, they will not win. But if the Saints are to win this game, they will have to be at least plus one in the turnover ratio.
The Big Chief’s Final Analysis – I picked the Saints to win their first three games and they are 0-3. Maybe if I pick against them, they will win? That’s not the reason why I’m picking Green Bay. At the end of the day, if all else for both of these two teams fails, the Packers have by far the better defense. That alone, along with Green Bay being at home, is plenty enough for me to take the Packers in this one.
Sorry Saints fans, the Saints fall to 0-4…and the sick, bad feelings that none of us have had to endure in quite some time will have to deal with once again! In the words of Florida Evans, “Damn, Damn, Damn!”