The New Orleans Saints are a not quite as good version of the Green Bay Packers.
Both teams have elite quarterbacks, but Drew Brees isn’t quite as good as Aaron Rodgers. In 12 seasons as a starter, Brees has thrown double-digit interceptions 11 times and is well on his way to 10 or more picks this season, his 13th as a starter. Rodgers has thrown double-digit picks in just two seasons and has just one so far in 2014.
Both teams have excellent coaches, but Sean Payton isn’t quite as good as Mike McCarthy. Payton is 75-43, a .641 winning percentage. McCarthy is 87-47, a .649 winning percentage. Payton is also an a$$hole. McCarthy is not.
Both teams have had bad defenses since winning a recent Super Bowl. We could probably call this one a draw.
Both teams have unique home stadiums. However, the Saints’ home field is enclosed by a dome. Lambeau Field is outside, where football was meant to be played. Advantage: Packers.
The Saints and Packers have played three times since Rodgers took over as Green Bay’s starter. The Packers lead the series 2-1.
The list could go on and on. The Saints are a dang good team, but they’re not as good as the Packers. And they won’t be as good on Sunday night.
Here are five reasons why:
There’s a lot of buzz that the Saints will be a desperate team tonight, fighting to stay alive in the playoff race. This is bogus for two reasons: 1) When you’re 2-4, you’re a bad team, not a desperate one. Sure, there’s plenty of time for the Saints to turn things around, but calling a team “desperate” is code for “this team has stunk;” and 2) The Saints are only a game out of first place. Teams that are a game out of first are not “desperate.” Forget the meaningless national narrative. The Saints will not be playing extra hard on Sunday because they’re “desperate.”
Superstud tight end Jimmy Graham is battling a shoulder injury and was mainly used as decoy last week. Because the Packers are so slow at middle linebacker, they struggle covering tight ends. But even A.J. Hawk and whoever lines up next to him should be able to at least contain Graham if he’s playing with one arm.
Another bad secondary
It seems like whenever I sit down to write these “5 reasons” game previews every week, whichever team the Packers are playing has a terrible secondary, a secondary decimated by injury, or both. The Saints chose to draft speedy WR Brandin Cooks in the first round instead of a defensive back, and now the back end of their defense is a mess. If the Packers offensive line can deal with the crowd noise and keep Rodgers upright, QB1 should have another big night in prime time.
I’m liking this new Packers trend of taking the opening kickoff and scoring right away. There’s nothing wrong with deferring to the second half to try and double up, but there’s something about the Packers scoring right away and putting their opponent in “Uh-oh, now we’re down 7-0 to Aaron Rodgers. Time to panic!” mode. It’s essential that the Packers take an early lead against the Saints. It’ll shut that crowd that up and hopefully force the Saints to pass often instead of handing off to their sneaky good running backs.
The Saints keep signing former Packers fan favorite Tom Crabtree and cutting him. It’s annoying and the Packers must avenge this mistreatment. I’m guessing New Orleans keeps signing Crabtree to try and get him to share inside info about the Packers. Here’s how those conversations probably went:
Saints: Hey Crabtree, we’ll sign you if you tell us all the Packers secrets.
Crabtree: Cool, where do I sign?
Saints: Right here. Now spill your guts. What’s the key to beating those guys?
Crabtree: Don’t let Aaron Rodgers throw for 500 yards and seven touchdowns.
Saints: Well, duh. We already knew that. What else?
Crabtree: That’s all there is to know.
Saints: Gett outta here, you’re cut.
Crabtree: K. Bye.
*A week later.*
Saints: Thanks for re-signing, Crabtree. Now, don’t hold out on us this time, tell us what the Packers don’t want us to know.
Crabtree: Ok. I’m serious this time. I REALLY mean this. You’re not going to beat the Packers if you let Aaron Rodgers do Aaron Rodgers things and tear you apart.
Saints: Grrrr. Leave.
Crabtree: See ya.
Even low-down dirty Bountygate teams who jerk around Tom Crabtree cheat their way to a win over the Packers every now and then. Here’s how the Saints could make that happen today:
The Packers used an annoying version of the silent snap count on offense during the Miami game. Rodgers would let the play clock bleed down to one second, then call for the ball. It allowed the Dolphins to time the snap perfectly and put a hurtin’ on Rodgers all game. The Saints defensive line isn’t nearly as good as Miami’s, but if they can use the home crowd noise to get a jump on the Packers’ pass blockers, things could turn ugly. The Superdome (or whatever it’s called now) is just not an easy place to play.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .