We’re going to have to wait until Sunday night to watch the Green Bay Packers go for 3-0 against the New Orleans Saints. This matchup is one that has been circled since the schedules were released. Rodgers vs. Brees, two Super Bowl contenders. What more could you want in prime time, especially after what the Packers have done the last two weeks?
Aaron Rodgers looks like a man on a mission and the Packers have one of the best offenses in the NFL through eight quarters. There’s really nothing to dislike about what we have seen from that side of the ball. The defense has had lapses, but mostly held together. I chalk up the large point total against Minnesota to garbage time, and the defense shut down the Lions after a hot start from Matt Stafford and co. last week. The biggest criticisms facing the Packers so far through week two is the strength, or lack thereof, of the two teams they utterly dominated.
That’s all about to change this week (or is it?) when the Packers kickoff against the Saints, the darling of the NFC going into the season. I have other theories about the Saints, mostly that they are overrated, Drew Brees is at the beginning of the end, and the team is running solely on expectations and hype, but I’ll spare those and just talk about what you all came here for. The Packers can not only go 3-0 on the season, but 3-0 against the spread with a win this week. You guessed it, the Packers are underdogs.
Now this might seem like a slight at first glance, but home teams, especially good ones (disregarding my theories about the Saints) are always going to be favorites at home. Even without fans, which I think might be a mistake. The typical home field advantage on spreads is about 3 points, and the Packers are currently at +3, meaning on a neutral field these teams are essentially perceived as even, and if the game were in Lambeau the spread would be about Packers -3.
But, why the home field advantage still with no fans? That’s the million dollar question. I personally don’t think it’s worth anything anymore, but with the Vegas lines having to predict what the public perception will be, they still have to give the home team a bump, because the home team is still seen as the ‘home’ team and I believe the average sports bettor values that.
I theorize the above as the only reason for the Packers being underdogs because I think the Packers are the better team in this matchup, and I don’t think it’s quite close. However, I understand why the public may still believe in the Saints. I try to set bias aside, but if the Packers play well then they will win. Because we’ve seen them play well, and it’s dominant. The Saints don’t have the firepower to beat an Aaron Rodgers led offense with Micheal Thomas being out and Drew Brees having a deflated right arm. If the Packers are going to lose, we’re going to need one of two things to happen.
First, the Packers will have to show us continued levels of poor play that we haven’t seen so far this year. Given the Vikings and the Lions are pretty bad teams, it’s fair to suggest the Packers only looked good because they played a pair of teams that could be vying for top 5 picks. Except, as I have said before, the Packers utterly dominated those teams. You can’t penalize the Packers for being good. They aren’t the same 2-0 that the Bears are after squeaking by the Lions and the Giants.
The second thing is if the Saints similarly show us play that we haven’t yet seen from them. The Saints played a solid game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one and got shredded by the Las Vegas Fightin’ Derek Carrs in week two. After what we’ve seen in a limited sample, the Saints have not played great football. The Bucs aren’t looking like the Super Bowl contender most thought they would be, so a mildly impressive win over them is, well, mildly impressive. And if Derek Carr can light that defense up, then I can’t wait to see what Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones can do.
I just don’t see how the Packers don’t keep this game close. They are the better team, and the great New Orleans crowd isn’t something we have to factor in here. And before you say I forgot, I am not worried about the Packers offense without Davante Adams the same way I am about the Saints offense without Micheal Thomas. The Packers were without Adams last year for several weeks and were as efficient as ever. The Saints rely too much on Thomas in got-to-have-it situations. Alvin Kamara will have to step up, as will somebody else on that offense.
For the sake of the series I’ll take the Packers +3, getting the football number here. If you can get +3.5, that’s even better. But what I’m really on here is the Packers to win straight up, which is +130, meaning $100 wins $130, or $1 wins $1.3.
Let’s go 3-0.