Raise your hand if you predicted that both the Packers and Saints, two of the last three Super Bowl winners, would be hanging out at or near the bottom of their respective divisions nearly a quarter of the way through the season. If your hand is in the air right now, put it down, because you're a dirty stinking liar. The fact is, nobody would have believed it a month ago if you'd have told them we'd be talking about a potential "must win" for both Green Bay and New Orleans in Week Four. I don't know if this is an absolute must win for the Packers, but I'm certain New Orleans almost surely wouldn't be able to recover if they would fall to 0-4.
But regardless of whether or not anyone's season is legitimately on the line, there are going to be two very desperate teams on the field at Lambeau on Sunday, and that always makes for a good football game. I expect nothing less.
5 - Meetings between the Packers and Saints in the last eight seasons. They've split their last four meetings, and in that stretch each team has scored over 50 points once and they've also averaged 68 points combined per game in that tie period. This time around features the only two teams in the league to finish in the top ten in total offense each of the last six seasons.
4 - Games as a head coach for the Saints' Aaron Kromer, counting this coming Sunday. Kromer is keeping the seat warm for Joe Vitt, who is currently on a six game suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal. Vitt himself is filling in for Sean Payton, who is serving a one year suspension for his own role in the bounty happenings.
3 - Touchdown passes by Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter of the last meeting between Green Bay and New Orleans, a 48-41 shootout that I'll address more in a second. Rodgers' performance was just the second time in league history that a quarterback threw three passes in the first quarter of an NFL season opener.
2 - Touchdowns so far this season by New Orleans Saints' deep threat Lance Moore. Moore is the absolute definition of a big play receiver. He's racked up 220 yards on just twelve receptions, an average of 18.3 yards per catch.
1 - Combined wins by the Packers and Saints so far this season, an absolutely astounding number for two clubs who posted 15 and 13 wins respectively last year.
In Week One of the the 2011 NFL season, Green Bay hosted New Orleans for a 48-41 shootout that more or less came to represent the Packers' season in a microcosm. Aaron Rodgers threw a bunch of touchdown passes and the Packers defense gave up a pile of yards, which you could say for just about every game all of last year. Oddly enough, a defensive stop on the last play of the game preserved the victory for the Packers.
Meet a Saint
Darren Sproles - Running Back - 5'9" 190 lbs.
Yes, Darren Sproles is little. But the only little numbers he puts up are those in relation to his stature. Last year, he set an all-time record for all-purpose yards in a single season, with 2,696 yards from scrimmage. He's a weapon from all over the field, and the Saints use him all over the field, as a runner, a receiver, and a kick and punt returner. Sproles is just a lot of fun to watch. Case in point:
The Saints Will Win If...
...they manage to slow down the Packers' offense long enough to get out in front and stay there. If they can make the Packers one dimensional, that bodes well for the Saints.
The Packers Will Win If...
...they run the ball. Yes, you read that right. Green Bay needs to run the ball to win, and if there's any game where the run game should be a priority, it's this one: New Orleans ranks dead last in rushing defense, giving up 215 yards per game.
The Pick: Green Bay - 24 New Orleans - 21
I admit, I'm picking the Packers as much out of loyalty this time as anything. I honestly have no idea where they are as a team and I don't know what to expect from them this week. Will they bounce back with a big game after a travesty Monday night? Will they play like a petulant, angry team and make a bunch of bad mistakes? I don't really know. What I do know is that I think they're in a slightly better place than New Orleans is right now. Their defense is significantly better than New Orleans' and I'm not sure the Saints' defenders can keep the Packers in check, although who can really tell after how the Packers have played so far this year.
The Rest (Home teams in ALL CAPS)
RAVENS over Browns Patriots over BILLS 49ers over JETS Seahawks over RAMS FALCONS over Panthers LIONS over Vikings CHIEFS over Chargers TEXANS over Titans Bengals over JAGUARS BRONCOS over Raiders CARDINALS over Dolphins Redskins over BUCCANEERS Giants over EAGLES Bears over COWBOYS
Last week: 8-8
Season Total: 29-19 (.604)