After winning the Super Bowl the Packers will have a target on their backs this season. That target will be mighty big Thursday when the Saints come to town to open the 2011 NFL season. Lets take a look at the three things the Packers will have to do win the game, and what three things the Saints will have to do to win the game.
First the Packers must.... figure out a run game to take the pressure off of Rodgers, and to keep Rodgers from getting hit a lot. This preseason Rodgers took some big hits, and I just don't think he will last all season if that continues. Arian Foster tore apart the Saints run defense in the preseason, but again that is Arian Foster. They seem to have a weak line, and have had defensive problems the past few seasons at times. We know the passing game will be working, but I just feel the Packers will have to establish a little run game to win this week.
Put the Super Bowl victory behind them...... starting today, and take pride in winning, but not letting it blind them for the future. I don't see this happening with this crew of guys, because a few of them were injured last year so they want the feeling of winning it all. Jennings, Rodgers, and Matthews really seem to have their heads on straight, and should be able to control this team. The minute they storm the field and hear the noise of the crowd again it might trigger them to relive the glory that occurred February 6, 2011.
Limit the number of big plays the Saints get.... because that is what killed us all preseason. This defense could be awesome, but remember these guys are not used to playing with each other. Last year everyone got hurt, so we just kept finding guys to fill in. Now we have all the pieces, but they need to learn to play together. A few times in the preseason we had breakdowns which led to easy touchdowns. The Saints are a team that win games on big plays, so if the Packers can hold them to third and longs it could be a long day for Brees.
What the Saints have to do to win the game...
The Saints must protect Brees.... like they did when the Saints won the Super Bowl. Brees threw 22 INT's last season, and will have to lower that number to beat a team like the Packers. Brees' quarterback rating dropped from 109.6 to 90.9 last season. When the Saints won the Super Bowl this team got as far as Brees could take them. In order for Brees to take them to the promise land the line must protect him.
Saints must stop the offense that is.... the Green Bay Packers. I know I talked about the Packers finding a running game, but still they have about six guys that can catch balls, and make a huge play. Finley at tight end will always cause problems, Jennings can make a big play at anytime, and Driver just always seems to get first downs. The Saints must control the run, because if the Packers find a running game this one could get out of hand early.
Saints need to strike first on where it.... hurts most on the scoreboard. Last season the Packers would always get out to early leads if they won games. Not too many games did the Packers fall behind and come back to win. I think this team still has a lot to show, and one of the things is getting down and coming back to win the game. The Saints will have to feel good about themselves if they get up early, and quiet down the large crowd at Lambeau field.
With all that said I still have to go with the Packers Thursday night against the Saints. The Saints have struggled in the past on season openers, and this game will be played outside. It might be a little chilly in Green Bay, so Brees might be a little off. Lets take the Packers 31-20 to open the season 1-0. With the final countdown to kick off just hours away we will find out which team will come to play.