Early Bird Breakdown Week 8: Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints
Hello all! Welcome to another Early Bird Breakdown! Let’s begin with the breakdown:
The Green Bay Packers put together their most complete team victory against the Carolina Panthers last week. The defense looked more crisp than any previous game this season, giving up their fewest yards on the ground (108) while holding Carolina to only 223 yards passing. Aaron Rodgers was near perfect, completing 19 of 22 passes for three touchdowns and 225 yards. Rodgers spread the ball to nine different receivers, similar to how in 2011 when he spread the ball all over the field on the way to his MVP award. While Carolina does not boast an impressive offensive line by any means, but the way the defense harassed Cam Newton and played overall was a great sign. If they can continue to improve at the pace they have the last few weeks, the team will be as good as any other in the league.
As for the New Orleans Saints, they traveled into Detroit to play the Lions. The Saints had control of the game until Drew Brees threw an interception that led to the Detroit go-ahead score with 1:48 left in the game. Detroit was able to move the ball very efficiently through the air despite not having Calvin Johnson for the game, and the Saints fell to 2-4 overall, all four losses coming on the road.
Packers’ Offense vs. Saints’ Defense:
While New Orleans has been respectable against the run (11th overall giving up 103.2 yards per game), they have been shredded by the pass ranking 28th in the league with 270.5 yards per game. While the Saints number one corner Keenan Lewis has been very good so far, the rest of the secondary has not been able to cover teams that have multiple weapons. While I expect Jordy Nelson to find the endzone Sunday, look for Davante Adams and Randall Cobb to both have big games, with Cobb most likely to lead the team in scoring.
New Orleans secondary has been more than shaky, with sophomore safety Kenny Vaccaro taking a large step back this season and Jarius Byrd, their free agent addition and other starting safety is out for the year. Randall Cobb will have multiple single looks against players with no business covering him and will have all the opportunities in the world to succeed.
Last week, Lacy was able to run efficiently against a suspect defense. New Orleans is a tougher opponent to run on than Carolina, but the Packers will need Lacy to keep the Saints off balance and keep quarterback Drew Brees on the sideline. On the plus side, New Orleans has not been great getting to the quarterback this season, only tallying 9 sacks so far on the season (25th overall in league). This should give Rodgers enough time to dissect this defense on third down to keep drives alive. As long as the Saints do not control the clock, Rodgers and the offense will put up great numbers.
Packers’ Defense vs. Saints’ Offense:
If Green Bay’s defense can rattle Brees as they did Cam Newton, the Packers will be able to pull off the win in one of the most difficult venues in New Orleans. New Orleans has been impressive as usual on offense, ranking second in the league in passing yards (314 yards per game) and ranking 13th running the ball, gaining 123 yards per game. All told, this has been the second most successful offense behind Indianapolis in the league this season. They also have been great keeping Brees upright, he has only been sacked 6 times (tied for second). This is the defenses toughest challenge all year. If they play with the confidence and swagger they have of late, they will make enough stops to win the game. The key will be forcing turnovers.
Drew Brees has not been as sharp as in previous years, throwing seven interceptions already on the season. The Packers strength on defense is getting turn overs with the secondary, and Brees will have a few throws that can be picked (like above); if the Packers come down with those balls, they will win. This is the best secondary New Orleans has faced thus far, even with Sam Shields doubtful for tonight.
New Orleans just added back starter Mark Ingram back after his injury last week. He was limited in his role in Detroit, but will look to try and keep Rodgers sidelined. The Saints can run the ball and Green Bay will need to have their best night against the run to make sure Rodgers can get his opportunities.
The Weather Factor:
None! The game is indoors.
Green Bay is coming off the most convincing win it has had this season. Against a playoff team, they dominated in all phases. Rodgers is absolutely on fire right now. In there way is a juggernaut of an offense that virtually never looses at home. This should be the most exciting game Green Bay has played this season, as both offenses should not have much trouble putting up points. The difference in the game right now is going to be who minimizes their mistakes, and right now, Rodgers is playing mistake free. This time, the game will be too close too late to pull Rodgers and he could do what Matt Ryan did week one – throw for over 400 yards. Therefore, I have the score 42-34 Green Bay over New Orleans.
Randall Cobb – He will lead all wide receivers in points in this game. But as his recent success has shown, he is in auto start status and like Nelson will not be showcased here further.
Davante Adams – Adams will see a lot of favorable matchups this week. I would not be shocked if he out performs Nelson this week based on the Saints’ recent trends.
Marques Colston – Colston has been ice cold so far this season and this is the best secondary New Orleans has played yet.
As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University