NFL Sunday Night Football: Packers/Saints Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Sunday Night Football game on NBC this week features a dream matchup between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. However, both quarterbacks may be without their favorite target for this game.

Green Bay’s Davante Adams is listed as doubtful for this contest with the hamstring injury he incurred last week in their game against the Vikings. His absence did not slow down the Packers who racked up 488 yards of offense in their 42-21 beat down of the Detroit Lions. Adams already has 17 receptions for 192 yards this season with two touchdown passes.

Yet the secret weapon for this Green Bay offense may be an offensive line that might be the best unit in Rodgers' career with the Packers. Rodgers has been sacked only once this season. The strength of this offensive line has also helped Matt LeFleur find the balance in the offensive attack that he has sought since being hired as the head coach last season.

Green Bay is averaging 34 rushing attempts per game this season, which has produced 208 rushing yards per game with a 6.2 yards-per-carry average. Keeping defenses honest has helped Rodgers complete 67.6% of his passes while averaging 296 passing yards per game. Rodgers has already tossed six touchdown passes without an interception. The Packers have scored 43 and 42 points in their first two games of the season despite trading up in the first round to select Jordan Love at quarterback, who currently is the third-string quarterback. Relax, indeed!

New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas, who did not play last week in the Saints' 34-24 upset loss in Las Vegas to the Raiders, who were playing their first home game representing Sin City. Brees will miss Thomas for the next few weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury. His 149 receptions last year that accounted for 1725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns are difficult to replace.

Brees has been the target of criticism all week as perhaps being a victim of Father Time with diminished arm strength. The analytics folks will point to him having only 116 air yards so far this season, which is below the (dreaded) Kirk Cousins mark entering Week 3. Yet while many of these same analytics experts dismiss the importance of old school statistics like time of possession, perhaps there is some value in recognizing that the Saints had the ball for less than 24 minutes on Monday.

Even without Thomas and his 41-year old arm, Brees led an offense that averaged 7.44 yards per play, which produced 424 yards of offense. The Saints outgained the Raiders by 47 net yards last week, which is typically an indicator of a victory. Autopsies of New Orleans' loss need to account for the 129 yards they gave Las Vegas from  10 penalties, with five of these penalties giving the Raiders a new set of downs.

Green Bay is hot, and New Orleans returns home to the Big Easy as an angry football team. The Saints will be allowed a crowd of up to 750 people who are family members of players, coaches, and staff. BetAnySports lists New Orleans as a 3-point favorite with a total of 53. Kickoff is set for 8:20 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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