The Green Bay Packers clash with New Orleans Saints on Sunday, September 12, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville for their NFL 2021 season opener. The game was initially supposed to be played in New Orleans but was moved to Jacksonville due to the effects of Hurricane Ida, effectively removing any home advantage the Saints would have otherwise enjoyed.
New Orleans Saints vs Green Bay Packers
When: Sunday, September 12 – 16:25 EDT
Where: TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida
Weather: Showers, 29°C
Green Bay Packers look for a strong start of the season, following last season’s NFC Conference Championship Game loss against the eventual Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And they should feel hopeful about their chances to start the season with a W, as they take on the unconvincing New Orleans Saints, even though they are winless in their last four outings and fresh off a 0-19 loss against Buffalo Bills in their final preseason match.
The Packers last met with Saints one year ago, when they won 37-30, adding their third head-to-head victory since 2012 (3-2) and second across their last three meetings.
Aaron Rodgers Remains at Packers
The reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, has requested a trade this offseason, giving all Green Bay Packers fans a good scare. Fortunately, he has since changed his mind and announced he would remain with the team which he hopes to lead to the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.
Looking back at last season, the Packers did fairly well across the board, and while they came up short, they did show some very good qualities. Mainly, the Packers managed to protect their star, Rodgers, well, seeing how he got sacked just 25 times across 18 games.
That was quite an improvement from two previous seasons when he was sacked 41 times over 18 games in 2019 and 49 times across 16 games in 2018. The only team which managed to defend their QB better last term were the Steelers (14).
As impressive as the Packers have been protecting Rodgers, they might not be as efficient this term, largely due to the injury of their starting left tackle, David Bakhtiari, and the departure of centre Cory Linsley.
Regardless, it’s important to note that the Packer’s success last term (12-4) was thanks to their defence, which was the driving force behind Packer’s run to the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs. Green Bay defence ended last year with 113 quarterback hits (fifth).
Talking about defence, the Packers will be without Trey Hendrickson and David Onyemata, with the former leaving for Cincinnati, while the latter serves a six-game ban for violating NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Their absence will be missed, particularly Hendrickson’s, who has led the squad last term with 13.5 sacks, and 25 QB hits.
No Home Advantage for Saints
With Drew Brees now retired, the New Orleans Saints need to pick between Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill as their new starting QB. Although not an optimal position, it’s worth noting that Brees wasn’t exactly the shining star of the team last term and seemed more like a shadow of his former self.
So in that regard, the Saints likely won’t seem much weaker in the QB position. Winston will likely be the man Saints will count on for this term.
While at Tampa in 2019, Winston threw for 5,000 yeard and 33RDs but also threw 30 picks and 12 fumbles. Obviously, he has the talent but will need to work on his pocket awareness.
Saints enter Sunday’s bout with a 1-1 record from the preseason. They first lost to Baltimore Ravens (14-17) and bounced back with a 23-21 victory against Jacksonville Jaguars (as 1.50 favourites).
Not a very good start to the season, and it doesn’t help that Saints will be deprived of the home advantage this weekend. That’s a major blow to the team that traditionally performs well at home stadium, where Saints are 7-3 across their last 10.
Last season, the Saints were .750 at home with a 6-0-2 record. Their only two losses came against Kansas City Chiefs (29-32) and no other than Green Bay Packers (30-37). However, it’s worth noting that the Saints were just as successful on the road (.750).
New Orleans Saints vs Green Bay Packers Betting Pick
Green Bay Packers won this bout last term, and while they enter the 2021 season weaker, they still managed to keep a hold of Aaron Rodgers, who is a big reason why LaFleur’s men went 13-3 in each of the last seasons.
What’s more, the Packers have one of the best all-around receivers in the league in Davante Adams, an excellent runner in Aaron Jones, as well as Robert Tonyan. You could list Saints’ star names as well, but if you draw a line, the Packers are the better team.
We expect the Packers to go through some growing pains at the start, and we’re not entirely convinced with Winston, who has been a bit too loose at times.
Even though the Packers went 0-3 in the preseason, they weren’t playing with their star names, so some improvement is expected on Sunday. With no home advantage, the Saints will struggle, and even though we don’t expect a complete blowout since the Saints should do better in the offence, the Packers should get it done with four points to spare.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers -3.5 – 1.92 at Sportmarket