I cannot remember the last time I was this conflicted about predicting the result of a football game. Spoiler alert, I’m going to pick the Saints to win on Sunday. I can’t really tell you why I’m going to do this but I promise you, I am going to do this. Aaron Rodgers is now clearly better than Drew Brees. I’m not sure if it’s because Brees is at least a little washed up or if it’s just because Rodgers is so good but the difference is clear. Offensively the Packers are better. Defensively the Packers are clearly better. The New Orleans Saints rank 32nd in Defensive DVOA (FootballOutsiders). There isn’t a 33rd team in the National Football League.
So why? Why am I picking against the Packers, quite possibly the NFC’s hottest team? A building. I’m picking against the Packers because of the Superdome. This is a scary game. If the Packers go into New Orleans and win on Sunday night I have to believe in this team 100%. YOU have to believe in this team 100%. I know that sounds nuts because of the Saints’ record but it’s true.
Barring injuries that occur in the Saints game, the Packers should come back from the bye week completely healthy. All of their currently injured players, PLUS JC Tretter all appear healthy enough to possibly play against New Orleans. I can’t honestly imagine that any of them would be sidelined after a bye week. All hands on deck is not something that the Packers have been able to say in week 10 in a very long time.
Not only the health situation but my God look at the schedule in the last 8 games. 5 games at Lambeau Field, at Minnesota (game played at an outdoor college stadium) at Buffalo at Tampa. The 3 road games are against 3 of the worst 10 teams in football. The Green Bay Packers will not be underdogs in any game after the bye week. If Green Bay wins on Sunday 14-2 and 13-3 come into play. 12-4 becomes almost a cinch. That’s first round bye type stuff.
Why the Packers Will Win- they’re a better team. Not only because one team is 2-4 and one is 5-2, Green Bay is just better. They have more playmakers on both sides of the ball. They are healthier. Green Bay has a better QB. Everything that I believe in and have seen on film would tell me that Green Bay will win this game and probably win the game handily.
The only thing that would really concern me defensively with New Orleans is Jimmy Graham. He’s banged up. He went without a catch last week and most certainly cannot block right now. Their biggest pass catching back Pierre Thomas is out for a few weeks. Drew Brees is absolutely no threat to run with the football so all of the QB “contain” responsibilities for this are gone. If the Saints are running the Packers only need to key on the back. If the Saints are passing the Packers only need to rush the QB. The defense hasn’t had that luxury in any game except Detroit and Minnesota, and they played fantastically both times.
On offense the Saints are not going to be able to stop anything that Green Bay wants to do. That’s a fact. If Green Bay loses this game it will be in a shootout. Brodrick Bunkley might not clear concussion protocol. Keenan Lewis is dinged up. Big free agent signee Jairus Byrd is out for the season. The Saints’ run defense is average. Their pass defense is terrible. If the Packers can establish Eddie Lacy their play action game should be lethal. In all honestly if Green Bay just wants to drop into the shotgun and play with 4 WR New Orleans isn’t going to be able to stop that either.
Why the Saints Will Win- they’re at home. The Saints don’t really lose at home. They haven’t lost at home yet this season despite their awful record. They really don’t lose primetime games at home. The Saints have won 9 consecutive national television games in the Superdome. Granted, those Saints teams were a lot better than this Saints team.
The Saints do have the ability to hurt the Packers where they have historically struggled. Jimmy Graham and Travaris Cadet can rule the middle of the field and exploit the “soft” underbelly of the Packers defense. Hawk and Lattimore are better than Hawk and Jones but still cannot defend the middle of the field on early downs in the short and intermediate areas. Micah Hyde has been part of the solution and Casey Hayward is a revolution but you’re not going to put those guys on RBs. Jimmy Graham should be doubled on every play until he proves that he can’t do anything.
Mark Ingram has played better this season than any other in his NFL career. He appears to be healthy for this game. Unfortunately for New Orleans if Ingram is the fastball they are missing their other two pitches. Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas don’t figure to play in this game. I don’t think the Packers are as bad defending the run as most do, but a competent running back always has to be a concern.
Fantasy Packer to Start- Davante Adams- it’s time to plug the kid back in. He scored a TD last week but this week he could really break out. The Saints have one good defensive back. Keenan Lewis will follow Jordy Nelson around. While this isn’t going to eliminate the beast that is Jordy Nelson it is going to put a bad defensive back like Patrick Robinson on Davante Adams. The QB knows Adams is open and this week he just might be the most open.
Fantasy Packer to Sit- Packers Defense- I know that no one thinks of them as a startable fantasy defense but they rank inside the top 8 in standard scoring. This is not the week to use them. The Saints are not going to create a lot of opportunities for defensive fantasy points at home. You probably knew this one already but it’s all I got.
Bottom Line- I picked this game as a loss in the preseason. Even though the difference in records is great I still feel the same way about the two teams as I did before the season. I think the Packers are going to lose a close game on Sunday night and then quite posisbly win the last 8 games of the season and finish at 13-3. That would most certainly be good enough for a first round bye. They would then more than likely host either Seattle or San Francisco at home in the Divisional round. The Saints save their season on Sunday. Saints 38 Packers 34