The Green Bay Packers will be playing their third nighttime prime-time game of the season this Sunday night when they face the New Orleans Saints. So far in those games under the lights, the Packers are 1-1 on the season and it’s time to break the tie in dramatic fashion.
Green Bay hasn’t beaten the Saints on the road since 1995 but the Superdome has been good to the Pack. They won Super Bowl XXXI there after the 1996 season so there will always be at least a hint of good vibes floating around.
But this isn’t 1996 and from season to season, history doesn’t mean much unless you’re in the media or. . a writer. Looking back on Green Bay’s last visit to New Orleans in 2008, that’s a good thing. The Saints handed the Packers one of their worst loses under head coach Mike McCarthy during Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter.
A lot has changed since 2008. Heck, a lot has changed since 2013. The Green Bay defense is much improved in passing defense and tackling. Run defense remains a problem, but with the way the offense has been putting up points, opposing teams aren’t running a whole lot these days.
Speaking of pass defense, the Packers will likely be without safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Sam Shields. Before this season, that may have been a big problem for this defense but the emergence of Davon House and re-emergence of Casey Hayward along with the maturation of Micah Hyde minimize it greatly. If the Packers get off to another fast start, they’ll put the pressure on New Orleans to score on every possession.
Why every possession? Because the Saints defense can’t seem to stop anything lately and the Packers offense can’t seem to be stopped. Green Bay had 21 points on the board last week against the Carolina Panthers before Carolina gained a single first down. There will be points.
The Saints have won 19 straight games at home under head coach Sean Payton so I expect a lot of those points I just mentioned. We would all love for the Packers to put on a dominant defensive display and not only beat the Saints and end the streak, but humble the mighty Saints offense in the dome. Don’t hold your breath.
This game has the makings of one that could set some new Sunday Night Football records if these two offenses are clicking. And there’s good reason to think they will.
The Packers are doing whatever they want offensively and Rodgers has found a rhythm with not one, not two, but three of his receivers, they being Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Give a quarterback like Rodgers three good targets and some time to throw the ball and viola! You’re cooking with oil.
The Saints’ offense plays lights out at home and despite his having zero catches in his return last week against the Detroit Lions, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham presents problems for the Packers defense. Most tight ends are already a mismatch for the Packers. Carolina’s Greg Olsen had over 105 yards receiving last week and was open most of the day. Without Burnett, the Packers will have their work cut out for them in trying to minimize Graham. Their best bet is to hope he’s not quite 100% yet.
Despite the Saints 2-4 start, a Packers win in this situation is still a big win. The Superdome is a tough place to play and that crowd will be jazzed to the max for a game like this. New Orleans is desperate, despite what anyone might say to the contrary. They need this one more and if they come out and play like it, it could end up another sad tale from the Bayou for the Packers.
Most of us predicted a Packers victory and so are many other analysts and media. The hallmark of a great team is being able to stay within themselves and impose their style and tempo in a tough road atmosphere. The Packers can take a big step towards stacking success (you’re welcome, coach Mike) and head into their bye week riding high with a win.
Regardless, Green Bay will come out of the bye with five of their final eight games at home and relatively healthy, depending on how this week’s game goes. Their stock keeps rising and this one is there for the taking. They just need to find those good ol’ vibes.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: