New Orleans Saints (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
The Saints and Packers are a combined 1-5 three weeks in the season. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. I strangely see no hands. This is a huge, must win game for both teams, and given that we should expect huge performances from both quarterbacks. You know it’s really not sitting well with both of these quarterbacks that they are where they are right now. Aaron Rodgers has lost more games than he did all last regular season and Brees has lost the same amount.
Given that, it’s pretty tough to know what to expect from this game. However, I do think it’s more likely than Aaron Rodgers and company has a huge offensive game than Drew Brees and company. For one, Brees’ struggles are explainable. He’s without Head Coach Sean Payton and he looks eerily similar to the quarterback he was in San Diego, before his injury of course, and before meeting up with Sean Payton. Aaron Rodgers’ struggles are less explainable. Greg Jennings’ hasn’t been 100% so that may have something to do with it, but he should be healthier in this one.
More likely, it’s just a fluke and what better way to snap out of your slump than to face New Orleans’ 30th ranked passing defense which just made Matt Cassel look passable. They also struggle against the run, which is why they rank tied for 30th in the league in yards per play allowed. They just let Jamaal Charles go off on them and they rank 31st against the run, so the Packers will be able to establish Cedric Benson. Another possible explanation for Rodgers’ struggles is just the strength of schedule, playing San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle all of whom have great defenses. The Saints have far from one, so expect a vintage Rodgers performance.
I’m not as sure that we’re getting a vintage Brees performance. Green Bay’s defense has actually been pretty solid this year after that opening day embarrassing, but strength of schedule is obviously a factor there. Alex Smith, Jay Cutler (on a Thursday Night), and Russell Wilson are much of a next, at least not compared to Drew Brees, but there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be able to overcome the loss of Payton and look like his 2009-2011 self. Ordinarily, I would just grab the points, especially since it’s a big line, because Drew Brees is 30-20 ATS as a dog, but this is obviously a very different circumstance. There’s no public lean either way so I’ll just take the hosts for a very small play.
Public lean: Green Bay (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if New Orleans covers)
Sharps lean (sharps is defined as anyone with a 66.7% winning percentage or higher in Las Vegas Hilton): NO 5 GB 2
Update: Sharps agree with me they have no clue what to think of this game. Only 7 of the sharps have this game in their top 5, least of any game. Part of me likes the Packers to bounce back much more than the Saints. Part of me just wants to grab the point, fade the public, and go with the slight sharps lean. I’m sticking with my original pick, but if I did 0 unit picks, this would be one of them.
Green Bay Packers 34 New Orleans Saints 24
Pick against spread: Green Bay -7.5 (-110) 1 unit