Game time: 4:25 p.m. ET, September 12, 2021
Venue: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Where to watch: FOX
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Packers -4; O/U 49.5; Packers -210, Saints +175
BetMGM: Packers -4; O/U 50; Packers -208, Saints +175
Caesars: Packers -4; O/U 50; Packers -210, Saints +175
2020 season record
Packers: 13-3 (1st place, NFC North; lost NFC Championship vs. Buccaneers)
Saints: 12-4 (1st place, NFC South; lost NFC Divisional Round vs. Buccaneers)
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Packers - Saints preview and analysis
One of the marquee afternoon matchups in Week 1 has been thrown a curveball.
Due to Hurricane Ida rummaging through the southeast and eastern parts of the United States, the home matchup for the New Orleans Saints against the Green Bay Packers has been moved to TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Under normal circumstances, taking the Saints in a mild upset would be the right play. It’s the starting debut for Jameis Winston in New Orleans, and a rowdy crowd in the Superdome would’ve put a jolt in the Saints, as they begin the post-Drew Brees era.
Now, it’s not so certain to think that’s the case. The game moves outdoors, humidity will play a factor, and there may be some rain involved.
For a Saints team that has a lot of unknowns to them on the offensive side of the ball, moving to the outdoors is a challenge. Fortunately for Winston, he knows all about the Florida weather having played at Florida State and then being drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If he gets Michael Thomas to throw the ball to coming off that ankle problem, that’ll help the Saints offense.
Having said that, while Winston is now the guy for Sean Payton, it’s still the same quarterback who threw 30 interceptions under Bruce Arians. If Payton truly is an offensive wonder, Winston should have a career year for a Saints team that went 12-4 last season. And in the back of Payton’s mind, can he really trust Taysom Hill?
That’s not a problem coach Matt LaFleur has to deal with in Green Bay, at least for now. It very well could be the last season for Aaron Rodgers wearing the green and gold after all the drama that transpired this summer. This could very well be The Last Dance in Green Bay to bring another Lombardi Trophy back to its birthplace.
The reigning MVP will be glad to have Davante Adams back after his career year, catching a league-best 18 touchdowns to go along with 1,374 yards on 115 catches. Green Bay could benefit from someone opposite Adams making plays. Perhaps a leap from Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or tight end Robert Tonyan adding some more yards to those 11 touchdowns he caught last season. Randall Cobb is back to add to the group of talented wide receivers, as well.
It’s imperative that the Packers find some way to get Rodgers another ring, which would cement him as the greatest quarterback in Green Bay’s storied history (shoutout to Bart Starr, sorry Brett Favre).
It’s going to take a few weeks for the Saints to get this thing going. The small flashes of what Winston has shown in the New Orleans offense give way for cautious optimism. But for now, Rodgers’ tour of world domination should not be messed with. All eyes will be on No. 12 this season, and in an outdoor realm, he should let it fly. Packers win 30-24.
The Packers are 17-3 in their last 20 straight up; 13-7 against the spread. Green Bay is 7-1 straight up in the first month of the season over the past three seasons.
The Saints are 5-1 as an underdog straight up in their last six, and 20-7 straight up in their last 27 against conference opponents.
Players to watch
Packers: Aaron Jones will likely be another name gone under the radar when it comes to the Green Bay offense. The running back had 1,459 yards from scrimmage last season to go along with 11 total touchdowns.
Saints: New Orleans will need a big game from its defense, and it starts with six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan. He enters the season 5.5 sacks shy of 100 in his NFL career.
Statistical leaders from 2020
Passing: Aaron Rodgers -- 4,299 yards, 48 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Aaron Jones -- 1,104 yards, 9 TD
Receiving: Davante Adams -- 1,374 yards, 18 TD
Defense: Za’Darius Smith -- 12.5 sacks
Passing: Drew Brees -- 2,942 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Alvin Kamara -- 932 yards, 16 TD
Receiving: Alvin Kamara -- 756 yards, 5 TD
Defense: Trey Hendrickson -- 13.5 sacks
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