Packers XLV

All Good Things Must Come To An End.

Posted September 25th, 2020 @ 01:09pm

OK, there are two ways to read that headline.

On one hand, the Packers are off to a near perfect start, with an offense that's in midseason form and a defense that seems to right itself after giving up points early. But now they have to head to the Superdome, where they haven't won in 25 years.

As for the Saints, they're a perfect 10-0 at home on Sunday Night Football with Sean Payton and Drew Brees and they're 9-3 together following a prime time loss. On a short week, with a couple of key injuries, maybe it's time for those streaks to end.

One thing's for sure: we'll learn a lot about these Packers on Sunday night. This is an opponent with similar stars in their eyes, one with an aging quarterback and a Super Bowl window starting to close. They're coming off a poor performance in Las Vegas, one where that future Hall of Famer behind center looked like he's about ready to spend his Sundays eating beignets with his family. His defense got shredded on third downs and in the red zone against a mediocre offense.

I hate to face a team that's coming off a bad prime time performance, because you know you will get an angry, focused team that is looking to show the world that that was an aberration. There is no question that Brees looks like a shell of his former self, jittery in the pocket and unwilling or unable to throw the ball downfield. The end can come quickly for 40-something QBs and it looks to be near for Brees.

But he can still dink and dunk with the best of them, if he has time. The Saints' offensive line is solid and you rarely see Brees on his back. He's making a living throwing to his backs and tight ends these days, especially with his star receiver sidelined. It looks like  Michael Thomas will miss this game, he's still not practicing while dealing with a high ankle sprain.

That game plan will likely stress Mike Pettine's defense, whose strength in coverage is on the outside with Alexander and King. His unit will need a big night out of slot corner Chandon Sullivan and the linebackers who will be tasked with trying to corral Alvin Kamara.

Obviously, Aaron Rodgers and company won't have to deal with 'Who Dat' nation on Sunday night, but the Superdome has been a house of horrors for the Pack over the years. This needs to be a night to let Aaron Jones do his thing, especially if Davante Adams is unable to go. We've gotten mixed signals on #17: Matt LaFleur said Adams was lobbying to get back in the game last week after tweaking a hamstring. Yet, he hasn't practiced all week. I assume they'll be extra cautious here, but they could sure use him against a group that rushes the passer a lot better than the Pack's first two opponents.

The Saints are led by Cam Jordan, who will have an edge over RT Rick Wagner, even if Wagner has gotten off to a solid start. That's a battle to watch closely. The Saints are a little banged up on the other side. Marcus Davenport just returned to practice on Thursday after injuring his elbow early in camp. He may or may not be ready; his backup, Trey Hendrickson, is dealing with a groin.

The Saints are also much more solid on the back end than the Vikes and Lions, featuring veteran corners Malcom and Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore--a good test for Lazard and MVS. Where they really struggled Monday night was dealing with Raiders tight end Darren Waller. But if you've been watching the Pack you know they don't have a tight end that can take advantage of that matchup.

Rodgers has looked refreshed, confident and in rhythm through two weeks. It will be interesting to see if that continues or if we see him holding onto the ball, extending plays waiting for someone to get open against the Saints tough secondary. I expect LaFleur to continue to run lots of misdirection and jet sweeps to try to keep them off balance. It's not easy to run on the Saints so LaFleur may need to dive deep into his playbook to keep them guessing.

The good news is that Kenny Clark returned to practice on Thursday and if he's able to go it completely changes the look of the defense and provides some hope that the run defense will be solid. But Kamara is dangerous all over the field, with speed to get to the sidelines and as dangerous a receiver out of the backfield as there is in the league.

Maybe the end is near for this version of the Saints. Maybe the Taysom Hill era or the Jameis Winston era will begin at some point this season. My hunch is that Brees and Payton will use all this noise about the QB's diminished abilities as a challenge. At home in prime time, they've been unbeatable. It will take a near perfect Packer effort to take them down.

Saints 30  Packers 28

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Comments (3):

I'm not surprised to see you pick the Packer to lose this one. It will be tough. At least there isn't much on the line here. I doubt we will look back on the schedule and talk about this being a game we should have won. We have a chance. What we don't have is a super reliable tight end to catch 8 3rd down ball to extend drives, like the Raiders. Truthfully, I'm just looking for a good game here. Let's put enough on tape that if we face them again later in the year, when thing are on the line, that we have a victory then. Still, if the we get two take aways and don't give any.... who knows. Go Pack! 27 -24 Packers.

on September 25th, 2020 at 03:38pm

This game reminds of last year's Week 3 matchup of the Packers against the Eagles at Lambeau. Then, as now, the Pack was 2-0 and Philly, similar to the Saints now, was a top shelf contender off to a slow 0-2 start. The game was billed as a test of the Packers and they didn't pass it that night; losing 34-27. Ultimately, that game cost the Packers the #1 playoff seed & home field for the NFC title game. As an in-conference game this one will carry weighty implications for the season and postseason. The Packers lead the Saints 16-9 all time but there has been a definite advantage to home field in most of these infrequent encounters over the past 50 years. The Packers haven't won in Big Easy since Super Bowl XXXI 24 years ago. No Packers team since 1995 has beaten the Saints down there. Even one of the best of recent vintage- the 2014 team that made it to the NFC Championship Game- was blown out in N'Awlins 44-23. This time without the deafening din of 75,000 fans contained with the Superdome roof there may be the equalizer. These are evenly matched, quality teams, which is why they are being featured in prime time. Both were 13-3 last season, the #2 and #3 "seeds" in the NFC. It's about as much of a "toss-up" "pick'em" game as you can find. And again, like last year in Week 3, it's a test of the Packers. Let's hope this time they ace it.

on September 25th, 2020 at 09:25pm

If there was ever as perfect time to face the Saints on the road, this is it. No fans in that cavern will greatly work in the Pack's favor. Time to take down Who-Dat Nation.

on September 25th, 2020 at 11:38am

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