The New Orleans Saints host the Green Bay Packers on September 12 at 4:25 Eastern Time. Although technically a home game, there isn’t much of a home field advantage since the game will be played at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Last season, the Packers went 13-3, while the Saints posted a 12-4 record. The game will have a different feel since the Saints will have a new quarterback running the show for the first time since 2005. The Packers enter the contest as a 4-point road favorite.
Offensively, the Packers led the league in scoring last season at 31.8 points per game and the Saints were fifth at 30.1 points per contest. Defensively, the Saints allowed the 5th fewest points per game at 21.1 and the Packers ranked near the middle of the pack, 13th at 23.1 points allowed per game.
One key matchup is at quarterback between Aaron Rodgers and Jameis Winston. Rodgers is coming of this third MVP season and seemingly is getting better with age. He had an incredible 48-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating of 121.5. Winston has always had the raw talent, but has been prone to the interception, as seen in his 33-to-30 touchdown to interception ratio in his last season as a starter with the Buccaneers in 2019.
Rodgers loves to target Davante Adams, and in just a little over 13 games, had 115 catches for nearly 1400 yards and 18 touchdowns. Tight end Robert Tonyan had 53 catches for 11 touchdowns last season and is one to watch in the red zone. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling add to the weapons at Rodgers’ disposal. On the ground, Aaron Jones looks to pick up where he left off in 2020 when he rushed for 1104 yards and nine touchdowns. Old reliable Mason Crosby returns to take care of the placekicking duties. On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers had 41 sacks last season led by Za’Darius Smith’s 12.5. Putting heat on Winston could create much needed turnovers in what could be a shootout.
A player to watch for on the Saints is running back Alvin Kamara. Although he rushed for a career-high 937 yards last season, Kamara is known for being a huge threat out of the backfield. Last season he hauled in 83 for 756 yards and five touchdowns. With Latavius Murray gone, Tony Jones Jr, who had only three carries last season, is the backup. Winston will likely have to air it out and will have one less weapon available with Michael Thomas sidelined due to an ankle injury. That means the likes of Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will have to pick up the slack. On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints’ leading pass rusher from last season Try Hendrickson (13.5 sacks) is in Cincinnati. They will have to find a way to generate a pass rush to contain Rodgers or rely on a tough run defense that allowed just 94 yards per game last year.
Looking at the Packers to win, the Aaron Rodgers is still under center and the Saints aren’t playing in the friendly confines of the Superdome. Rodgers has a slew of weapons to work with and a formidable running game led by Aaron Jones. Despite a great all-purpose back in Alvin Kamara, with Michael Thomas out for the Saints, they won’t have the firepower to keep pace.
To see how the Saints could win, they must rely on a defense that was among the best in the NFL last season. They will need to keep the Packers offense under control. In addition, the offensive line is solid enough to provide time for Winston, limiting potential costly interceptions.