Game: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Time & Location: 1:00 EST; Lambeau Field; Green Bay, Wisconsin
Previous Meeting: 2014 Week 8, Saints Won 44-23
Aaron Rodgers is out, so previous meetings can be thrown out the window. This team has been designed to maximize the talents of the two-time MVP with highly skilled players at wide receiver, tight end, running back, and a top-5 offensive line. The Packers come into this game with a laundry list of injuries, which makes the Saints two-man injury report look like a gift on Christmas morning. Only offensive lineman Terron Armstead and wide receiver Willie Snead make appearances. Willie Snead has been mostly invisible since returning from suspension due to the addition of Ted Ginn Jr. and the breakout of Brandon Coleman. Drew Brees looks to feast on the depleted defense of the Packers to finally get on track after letting Mark Ingram run roughshod over the Detroit Lions last week.
The Saints defense, which has been an afterthought in years past, has been very much improved in recent weeks. They shut out the Dolphins in London for their first shutout in years, and had three touchdowns last week that helped to make up for Drew Brees two interceptions on the day. After trading away Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals, Mark Ingram was given the bulk of the carries and showed out with 114 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns. Peterson was always more of a under center style running back, which is why the fit was viewed as awkward upon his free agent signing. It’s very possible that Ingram could be in for another heavy workload if the Saints get out to an early lead, and the opportunistic defense takes advantage of Packers signal-caller Brett Hundley making his first start.
One issue Brett Hundley had last week was an offensive line devoid of the majority of its starters, but that issue should be remedied to some degree this week, as both tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari are expected to play. Hundley should also have Ty Montgomery back this week after he left last week’s game early after aggravating his broken rib injury. Given some time to settle into the offense and build a rapport with his pass-catchers should improve his chemistry with them. Hopefully, he’ll settle in this week and look like a capable backup that he appeared to be on a handful of throws in last week’s game against the Vikings.
The Saints come into Lambeau Field riding high after a dominating performance over the Lions with a 3-2 record, and look to make it 4-2 to move into a tie atop the NFC South standings. The Packers, reeling from the loss of superstar Aaron Rodgers, look to stabilize and ride out the wave biding their time until Rodgers returns. Montgomery and backup Aaron Jones should have a busy day to help make life easier on Hundley in his first start, but this Saints defense looks much improved over recent years and appears likely to make life difficult on Hundley in his first start as the Packers work to adjust to life without Rodgers.
Final Score Prediction: New Orleans Saints 27, Green Bay Packers 14
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