Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints Preview

Sorry I’m a little late with the preview this week fellow Packer Backers. This last week was the final week in cramming for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMATs); it’s a test that’s one of the things you have to complete if you want to go back to school and get your Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). I took the test yesterday and it was 3 1/2 hours long. After the test was complete, this moment was the first time myself and the cast of the Jersey Shore had something in common; we’re both brain dead. I probably could have wrote something after the test, but, I went out and smoked cigars and drank beer until 2am this morning. However, studying for this test for 2 straight months gave me an idea on how to write the preview, but more on that in a minute.

I was going to write a little something in this post about the reinstatement of the officials, but fellow Packersgab blogger John Radtke wrote a good piece on this subject so I suggest that you check  it out. I suggest that you check out his piece only after you read my preview.

In only a year’s time, the dynamic of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers has completed changed. Last year’s opening night game on Thursday Night was an very much anticipated clash between the last two Super Bowl champions. The game was an aerial spectacle with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers putting up a combined 700+ yards through the air. The Packers stopped the Saints on their final drive and came away with a 42-34 opening day win. Fast forward a year and three weeks and both teams are in completely different positions than they were during opening night of last year. The New Orleans Saints are still suffering the effects of Bounty Gate; Sean Peyton and General Manager Mickey Loomis are suspended for the year and starting middle linebacker  Jonathan Vilma is still waiting on when he can come back from his suspension and contribute. The Green Bay Packers do not have any suspensions to worry about (although I wish the entire offensive line would be suspended for being an embarrassment to the position, but since they can’t be suspended for that, somebody throw a bottle of HGH in Jeff Saturday’s locker when he’s not looking), but that doesn’t mean that their season has been unicorns and daisies. The Packers so far have had to worry about a struggling offense, an anemic offensive line, incorporating new starters on defense, and last but not least, last week’s game against the Seahawks being the “icing on the cake” for negotiations between the referees union and the NFL to get serious and finally make a deal. If you would have told me last year that coming into Week 4 of the 2012 NFL  season that the combined win total of the Saints and Packers would be one, I would have responded by saying “I don’t care about your Madden Franchise mode, and seriously, what’s going to be the combined win total for the Saints and Packers.”

So to preview this compelling game between the Saints and Packers, this week I’m going to use the multiple choice question format. Seeing how these are all I’ve seen for two months studying for the GMATs, I’ve come to know their structure pretty well. And away…we go. (I’m going to be using numbers instead of letters because my Microsoft Word to Word Press conversion isn’t going the way I like)

Is today’s game between the Packers and Saints a must win game? 

  1. Only for Packers
  2. Only for Saints
  3. For both teams this is a must win
  4. Regardless of the outcome of this game, both teams will make the playoffs
  5. If you think 4, well, I, don’t know what to say

The answer is no. 3; today’s game is a must win game for both teams. To start with the Packers, if they lose today’s game and both Minnesota and Chicago win their games, the Packers will already be two games down in the division. This isn’t baseball where being down two games is no big deal because there’s 162 games total. When a team is only given 16 cracks at it during the season, every game counts. The Packers can’t afford to be down two games and still have to play 5 games in the division. For the Saints, well, they don’t have a win yet. They’re currently 3 games back of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. Before they can try to get back in the thick of things as far as the playoff race is concerned; they have to make the 0 in the win column turn into a 1.

How many rushing yards does the Packers offense need in order to win?

  1. 60
  2. 80
  3. 100
  4. 120
  5. 140

We all know that the Packers have many weapons to use for the passing attack, but the answer is no. 5 (140 yards rushing) and here’s why. During the first half of last week’s game against the Fighting Pete Carrolls, the Packers offense gave up 8 sacks. Most of those sacks were on passing plays that were 5 step or 7 step drops. As soon as Aaron Rodgers took the 5th or 7th step back, there was a Seattle backer or lineman ready and waiting to throw him to the ground. When the Packers starting becoming effective on offense was during the second half when a run game was established and quick passes were thrown, not allowing the defense for the Seahawks to get any pressure on Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line. This type of game plan should be absolutely used again this week against the Saints. First off, the Saints are ranked dead last against stopping the run; they’ve allowed 645 rushing yards in 3 games this season (215 rushing yards allowed per game) and last week Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs torched them for 233 yards rushing. It would be absolutely foolish if Mike McCarthy didn’t rush the ball at least 10-15 times in the first quarter to test out the front line for the Saints.  Secondly, a consistent rushing attack keeps the Saints offense off the field, which is where you want them to be if you want to beat them. Even though the Saints are 0-3, they still have the 10th ranked offense in the league in total yards gained, and the 6th ranked offense in terms of passing yards, averaging 284 yards a game. I’m petrified of the Saints offensively because they still have Drew Brees (carved the Packers secondary up last year), Jimmy Graham (match up nightmare), and Darren Sproles (who ate the Packers lunch last year). If you’re going to throw against the Saints, you’re poking the proverbial pit bull through the fence and challenging them to a shoot out. Let’s just let sleeping dogs lie, shall we? Eat up the clock with rushing plays, and take chances with play action passes down the field.

How many sacks with the Packers give up this week? 

  1. 0-2
  2. 2-4
  3. 4-6
  4. 6-8
  5. 8+

The answer is no. 1 (0-2). From my breakdown of the Seahawks/Packers game earlier in the week, you probably thought I was going to say no. 5. Nope, I truly believe that Aaron Rodgers is going to stay upright against the Saints D. For as much as I criticized Coach McCarthy last week for his play calling in the first half against the Seahawks, I believe he called a much better game in the second half, coming up with a game plan to call short passing plays and runing the ball to keep Aaron Rodgers upright. The offense moved the ball up and down the field against the Seahawks D, which stifled them in the first half. Due to the second half game plan being successful against Seattle, and due to the fact that the Saints D is terrible against the run, I expect Coach McCarthy to use the same game plan this week.

Is the revamped Packers D for real? 

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. The game against the Saints will say a lot about this question
  4. None of the above
  5. All of the above

The Packers during this Spring’s NFL Draft used the first 6 picks for the defensive side of the football. Coming into the year, the talk was all about how the defense must be better in order for the Packers to get back to the Super Bowl. During the first three games, the defense has certainly been better. Through the first three games, the Packers defense is ranked 3rd in the league in total yards allowed (261 total yards allowed per game), tied for 7th in points per game allowed (18 points per game), and tied for 3rd in sacks (12 sacks). However, you could make the argument that the Packers defense has not played against a better than average offense this year. So far the Packers defense has gone against the 21st ranked (San Francisco 49ers), 27th ranked (Chicago Bears), and 29th ranked (Seattle Seahawks) offenses in the league. In my eyes, I don’t think you can logically say that a defense is revamped and entirely better until you play a top ten offense. As previously mentioned, the Saints are ranked 10th right now as an offense. Now I know that the Packers can’t pick the teams they play, and yes they have been successful so far against the teams they’ve played. However, I want to see how they do against the Saints today before I say the Pack’s D is back.

What will be the outcome of today’s game between the Saints and Packers?

  1. Packers Win 35-3
  2. Packers Win 28-21
  3. Saints Win 27-24
  4. Saints Win 35-10
  5. Packers win 13-3
With the desperation of both of these teams trying to put their season back on track, today’s game I think is going to be very fun and exciting to watch. The Saints offense, even without Sean Peyton calling the plays, is too good I feel to be shut down completely. I think they score some points against the Packers D, look out for Jimmy Graham today, I think he has a big game for the Saints. However, I think the Packers offense will have it’s best game of the year today, with a balanced running and passing attack that will keep the Saints D guessing the entire game. I think the Packers today will have a fluidity and a flow that we haven’t seen from them so far this year. The Packers jump out to a lead and keep it there, with the Saints scoring late to make this look like a closer game than it really was.
Green Bay Packers 28
New Orleans Saints 21
Bold Prediction: Cedric Benson runs for over 100 yards. 

 


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