The New Orleans Saints are coming off a rather disappointing effort in which they got off to a decent start but then got smoked after that. The Green Bay Packers have come out of the gate with a fury, as Aaron Rodgers looks very purposeful. Of course, Drew Brees & Co. intend to give the Pack a sterner test on Sunday night when these teams meet in the Superdome.
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The Saints led 10-0 after the first quarter on Monday night, but wound up on the short end of a 34-24 loss at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders. New Orleans beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 1, taking advantage of turnovers but averaging only 4.1 yards per offensive play.
Only three teams in NFL history have scored at least 40 points in each of their first two games of a season, and this year’s edition of the Packers is one of them. Of course, what must be factored in is that they beat two division rivals (Detroit & Minnesota) who have a long way to go.
In the Sunday Night Football betting odds that have been posted on this game at BetAnySports, the Saints are favored:
New Orleans Saints -3 (-115)
Green Bay Packers +3 (-105)
Over 52 points -110
Under 52 points -110
I’ll be honest with you; I expected more out of the Saints last week. I know that Drew Brees is industrious. He had some weapons he could access. But he found tight end Jared Cook only twice, for 13 yards. Cook could have been a difference-maker in the game. Maybe it made a difference that Las Vegas succeeded in keeping the ball away from him.
Brees remains the short-arm king of the NFL. His “Intended Air Yards” is measured at 4.9 per throw, which means he is throwing it 4.9 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. And I would have to concede that when you’re going to play that short you either need people who can take it and go a long way with it, like the guys Kansas City has, or you have to have someone who can stretch it out there a little and keep the defense honest.
Maybe someone like Michael Thomas.
The fact is, Derek Carr won the battle of the short tossers.
Aaron Rodgers is not a short-tosser, but it’s not as if Green Bay’s offensive success has been a result of him throwing the pigskin all over the place. The Packers actually have a run rate over 47%, with the league’s leading rusher in Aaron Jones. And if you trace back coach Matt LaFleur’s roots, you’ll know that he loves to get a little play-action going.
A team that can slow down the run can disrupt that. And New Orleans may just qualify. The Saints were fourth in the league in rushing defense last season. This year they are allowing just 3.3 yards per attempt, and they are third in both Stuff Rate and Adjusted Line Yards. In other words, this is a different stop unit than the Packers faced the first two weeks.
Brees has depended a great deal on Thomas. The same can be said about Rodgers’ relationship with Davante Adams, who has a hamstring injury that leaves him doubtful. This is a different offense without him. And by the way, just in case Brees decides to hand the ball off to Alvin Kamara, Green Bay has surrendered almost two full yards more per carry than the Saints (5.2).
After a loss, Sean Payton is a sizzling 63% against the number, so we’ll allow for another investment in New Orleans this week.
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