There’ll be fireworks in the Crescent City Saturday night,
Former Bears and Saints head coach Mike Ditka looks forward to the Packers-Saints clash, particularly because of the quarterback match-up.
“Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best ever,” Ditka said. “And the Saints and Packers are two of the best teams in the NFC. A very interesting one. Both teams are well-coached and solid overall and have a lot of weapons.”
Many NFL pundits thought two undefeated teams would face off Sunday night at the Superdome.
But 1-1 New Orleans and the 41-year-old Brees struggled Monday evening in a 34-24 loss to the Raiders in Las Vegas a day after Green Bay routed Detroit, 42-21, at Lambeau Field.
The 2-0 Packers, in year two under head coach Matt LaFleur, have started fast in generating 85 points and more than 1,000 total yards in victories over Minnesota and Chicago.
In fashioning its best start to a season since its founding season in 1919, Green Bay leads the NFL in several key categories:
- time of possession (38:01)
- yards per game (505)
- yards per play (7.11)
- rushing yards per contest (208.5)
- points per game (42.5)
Rodgers has been superb, passing for six touchdowns with no interceptions, and looking in mid-season form.
Brees, on the other hand, is off to a slow start and has yet to regain his.
“If Green Bay doesn’t find a way to get to Brees, he will get the ball to someone,” Ditka said. “They lost (Monday night), but you can’t dwell on it. They have the Packers and Rodgers up next and Green Bay has a running game, good balance. I think the Packers will dig in the trenches and try to beat them up.”
The game features two the league’s most versatile backs and receivers. Aaron Jones comes off a career-high rushing performance against Detroit with 168 yards and leads the NFL in rushing (234) and yards from scrimmage (312).
The ever-dangerous Alvin Kamara has already scored four touchdowns in two games and racked up 241 yards from scrimmage.
For Green Bay, Davante Adams has 17 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns, but is still nursing a minor hamstring injury from the Lions game. For New Orleans, record-setting Michael Thomas (149 catches in 2019) is hobbled by an ankle sprain and missed the Raiders game. The Saints injury report listed Thomas as “did not participate” in Thursday practice. Adams could be a game-day decision on his availability.
New Orleans’ secondary was torched by Raiders tight end Darren Waller as Las Vegas twice rallied to beat the Saints. Rodgers will no doubt test that unit, while the Packers defense may be bolstered with the return of nose tackle Kenny Clark.
Green Bay has not beaten the Saints in New Orleans since 1995, and have been blown out in their last two outings in the Superdome: 4-24 in October 2014 and 35-20 in September 2002. Less than 1,000 fans (family of Saints staff/players) will be allowed in the stadium, a distinct advantage for the visiting team in the typically raucous venue.
“I can see this game being decided by a big play and special teams,” Ditka said. “This will be a fun one to watch.”
Week 3 NFL Picks
Saints 33, Packers 30
Brees rebounds and outduels Rodgers in a close contest. Green Bay’s defense must contain Kamara and create turnovers to leave New Orleans victorious.