Posted: 9/8/2011 10:02:24 AM
The stage obviously has nothing to do with the outcome of this game, as both teams have been at the top of the league the past few years. The setting of the game, however, does. Green Bay was 7-1 at home last season and to say that this game being in Lambeau does'nt make a difference would be a morononical statement. Even Drew Brees is going to be rattled to some degree in this one; *not to mention a career high 22 picks last year and facing a defense that rated 2nd in the NFL in interceptions and sacks in 2010.
The trends in this game also are very apparent and are hard to ignore. The Saints being 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games and 1-4 ATS in last 5 road games, The Packers are 5-1 in their last 6 home games and 7-2 as a favorite last year. I could go on-and-on but the point is that the trends do represent how the teams have played. The more important information in this game are the match-ups that are created and what happens because of them:
-Packers O-line only have slight question at left guard and look to be able to handle Smith-less Saints pass rush. Studded tackle positions and Williams' schemes are'nt enough to stop Rodgers
-Saints O-line better in the middle which may provide more leverage to run, coupled with 2 good blocking backs. Although Brees threw 22 interceptions, the Saints only gave up 26 sacks last year
-Packers ability to play man coverage with best cornerback tandem in NFL allow them to rush the passer. Key loss of Lance Moore in the slot takes a weapon away from negating pass rush. The Saints O-line just may have enough as a unit to at least block for Brees, and Payton may call on big games from Graham and Ingram out of the backfield.
-The Saints defense have added bulk up the middle but the average secondary is just not enough. If Jenkins covers Finley who's gonna cover Jennings?, or James Jones?...the Saints defense is going to have to rely on schematic ways to beat Rodgers, making them play zone and get picked apart.
I have tried in so many ways to see how the Saints are going to stop Rodgers and the only thing I can come up with is hope the Packers run the ball? Na, cause they're gonna be able to do that too. Although it is certainly in Sean Payton's nature through praparation to keep this one tight, he's going to have to 'small-ball' the Packers to do it-Garrett Hartley being out does'nt help that along even if Rodgers is held down. The biggest point here is what the Packers have and the Saints don't: the ability to cover and therefore pass rush and the ability to beat coverages on the other side of the ball...Packers 30-21
GREEN BAY -4.5