Game one without Aaron Rodgers is no favorable matchup for the Packers. Drew Brees and the high-octane Saints offense is in town and is riding all the momentum from an opportunistic defense into Lambeau Field. That makes it tougher for Brett Hundley, but after 3 years in the system, he’s as ready as he’ll ever be. And he’ll get two important pieces of his offensive line back to help. So let’s take a look at the Packers and the Saints in 3…2…1…

In this article, and this series all season, we’ll take a look at 3 X-Factors (less obvious ones, not established superstars like Aaron Rodgers or Jordy Nelson), I’ll make 2 Bold Predictions, and then I’ll make the 1 prediction that matters: the score. So let’s dig in.

3 X-Factors

1. Josh Jones

With Morgan Burnett out for the second consecutive week, it’ll be up to the rookie Jones to be the man in the middle of the Nitro defense. And he will have some tough customers to deal with in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram out of the Saints backfield and Coby Fleener at tight end. He has the speed and is a hard hitter, but at times takes bad angles and is too aggressive in coverage which can lead to missed assignments. He needs to play within himself and focus on each play at hand to take away Brees’s safety nets as much as he can.

2. Corey Linsley

With Lane Taylor doubtful but David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga back, the Packers offensive line took a step back but two more forward. But with Linsley on the injury report now, the Packers may lose a linchpin. If he plays, and it sounds like he will, he will be tasked with anchoring an offense that will need more balance than ever before under Mike McCarthy. And he’ll be the primary blocker against rising star  Sheldon Rankins. He needs to keep the middle of the pocket clean for Brett Hundley to have a chance at making some plays.

3. Ty Montgomery

With the need for more balance in the Packers offensive huddle, Ty Montgomery has a chance to re-establish himself as the lead back with his ribs mostly healed. Aaron Jones will get his carries, and we may see some Jamaal Williams as well, but Montgomery’s dual-threat ability could be vital in this game as a safety valve out of the backfield for Hundley. Look for him to be moved around to create favorable matchups against linebackers as well as a potential two running back set with Jones and Montgomery in the backfield

2 Bold Predictions

1. Brett Hundley doesn’t commit a turnover

This one is a risk after he threw three interceptions in Minnesota. But that was with a different gameplan on the road against a dynamite defense. New Orleans did get to Matt Stafford last week, scoring three times on defense, so the odds are with them to get a takeaway or two. But this prediction stems from the likely gameplan for Mike McCarthy. I anticipate a lot of short passes and rhythm plays for Hundley that doesn’t ask too much yet with a bye week upcoming. Shorter passes have a lot less risk, and that could be what it takes to get Hundley’s confidence going as he takes the reins for the next eight weeks.

2. Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Martellus Bennett all get at least 5 catches

Tying in with the first bold prediction, the Packers have a receiving corps that is built for a short, rhythm passing game. Adams is a dynamite route runner who has some of the best footwork off the line in recent memory. Cobb has a knack for finding openings in the middle of the field and some wiggle after the catch. There is no better boundary receiver than Jordy Nelson, and Bennett is a massive target who will be looking for redemption after an inauspicious start to his Packers tenure. So with this short passing game, each will get their opportunities. I look for all of them to catch five, but none more than seven with two touchdowns (Bennett and Adams).

1 Game Prediction

It takes some luck, but the Packers escape into the bye week with a 28-27 victory.


Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.

Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for