The New Orleans Saints host the Green Bay Packers in the NFL week-three headliner Sunday night at 8:20 pm EST at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints are coming off their first loss of the season to the Las Vegas Raiders last weekend as their defense, which ranks in the top eight teams in yards allowed per game, gave up almost four-hundred total yards while the offense, despite getting over three-hundred yards passing from Drew Brees, were not able to keep pace in the end. The Packers overcame a slow start at home versus the Detroit Lions to post a total of four-hundred and seventy total yards, with 168 of those yards from running back Aaron Jones.
These teams last met in 2017 when the Saints came away with a 26-17 road victory as 3.5-point favorites. New Orleans has won against the number in five of their last six contests versus the Packers, including three-straight heading into this contest. Furthermore, New Orleans has covered in each of their last two home games versus their NFC foe. Currently, the Saints are favored by three points (down from six at open) while the total stands at 51.5 points.
Saints' rushing attack strugglingDespite having the 14th ranked passing attack in the league, the Saints are ranked 21st in total yards after two games. This ranking is due to its rushing attack averaging just ninety-seven yards per game. Latavius Murray has only 18 touches for 52 yards while Alvin Kamara has 25 rushes for 95 yards and four scores on the year. Nonetheless, the former was able to post two rushing scores versus the Raiders last weekend while racking up seventy-nine yards on thirteen rushing attempts in the Saints' loss. Furthermore, the Saints have been able to effectively use Kamara as a receiver out of the backfield as he had 95 yards receiving on nine catches in week-two (led the team in catches).
Tre-quan Smith had a breakout game versus the Raiders in recording 88 yards on five catches, including a crucial 29-yard catch. Important to note that New Orleans currently does not have the services of Michael Thomas who is out until the middle of October with an ankle injury. Also, the protection for Brees may falter a bit Sunday if guard Andrus Peat does not suit up due to an undisclosed injury (questionable).
New Orleans defense asserted themselves early in their matchup versus the Raiders only to develop issues after the first period in stopping the run as well as the pass. Defensive tackles David Onyemata and Trey Henderson each put pressure on QB Derrick Carr while having a combined two sacks while safety Malcolm Jenkins also raided the backfield for a sack. However, Carr made some huge throws in the second half against their secondary while the interior line was pushed around while giving up another 116 yards on the ground en route to the loss.
Things will not get easier as they now face a team in the Packers that are averaging slightly over two-hundred yards rushing per game, good for 1st in the NFL. Defensive end Marcus Davenport has not suited up thus far in 2020 and is questionable for Sunday's contest due to an elbow injury.
Packers ride rushing attack to another victoryGreen Bay's Aaron Jones was unstoppable versus the Lions last Sunday, increasing his rushing numbers to two-hundred and thirty-four yards alongside three rushing scores. Furthermore, Jones led the receiving corps with four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown pass. Important to note the Jones is in a contract year and a strong rushing season will certainly add some nice numbers to his extension.
Aaron Rodgers is quietly putting up big numbers as he has over 600 passing yards after two weeks while posting a total of six touchdown passes. And while his completion percentage is slightly under seventy percent on the year (68%), one can expect for the veteran to improve in this area once he gets more reps with receivers such as Marquez Valdez-Scantling (7 rec, 150 yds, TD) and Allen Lazard (7 rec, 108 yds, TD).
Enough is enough.— Green Bay Packers (@packers) June 4, 2020
It's time for change. pic.twitter.com/AS7wP9qz2x
Of course, Davantae Adams (17 rec, 192 yds, 2 TD's) is the leader of this corps and has already had a 156 yard, two-touchdown night in week-one on the road versus the Minnesota Vikings. However, it should be mentioned that Adams is questionable for this matchup due to a hamstring injury. Also, center Corey Linsley (thumb) is questionable while guard Lane Taylor (knee) is now only injured reserve due to a knee ailment.
Defensively, the Packers have played well leading up to his all-important matchup. The unit improved from week-one in giving up just over three-hundred total yards to the Lions last weekend (89 on the ground) after allowing over four-hundred yards to the Vikings during opening week. Second-year cornerback Chandon Sullivan picked off Matthew Stafford during the matchup while its defense collected a total of four sacks, with 1.5 being from linebacker Rashan Gary. Linebacker Za'Darius Smith along with safety Vernon Scott also had a sack while linebacker Christian Kirksey has shined thus far as the leader of the defense as he recorded ten tackles in week-two.
Stats & Trends
- Packers are 1-5 ATS in last 6 meetings versus Saints
- Saints are 4-2 ATS in last 6 games
- Saints are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss.
- Saints are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in Week 3.
The Saints were humbled by the Raiders in week-two and now return home to face Aaron Rodgers along with what has been a punishing rushing attack. And while New Orleans lost by ten, the fact is that they began the contest playing very well on both sides of the ball. Expect their loss to be a wake up call for a team that has underperformed up til this point, yet possesses the pieces that can allow them to roll past the Packers Sunday afternoon. Yes, they will be without leading receiver Michael Thomas; However, Brees continues to find receivers that will step up in his place.
The Packers will certainly seek to ride Jones and the rushing attack to a victory in this contest. However, as stated earlier, the Saints, despite giving up way too many yards on the ground to the Raiders, have done well for themselves in containing opposing rushing attacks thus far. Expect the defensive front, which recorded four sacks in week-two, to bring the pressure on Rodgers early and often as the Saints win by a touchdown or more.