The Green Bay Packers kick off the 2021 season on the road against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s never an easy road game in the Superdome, but the Saints could be without one of their star players in the season opener.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, wide receiver Michael Thomas had ankle surgery last month and is expected to miss the start of the regular season as a result. First on the schedule for the Saints is a visit from the Packers.
Injury limited Thomas to only seven games last season, and he missed the Saints’ Week 3 defeat against the Packers at the Superdome.
It’s fair to say this will be a new-look Saints team. They’ve already lost future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees, and could now be without their All-Pro wide receiver for the start of the season.
It’s a winnable game for the Packers, on paper, although they have their own set of problems entering 2021. We still don’t know whether Aaron Rodgers will be wearing the green and gold this season. And Rapoport’s report that contract negotiations between the Packers and Davante Adams have broken down is also far from ideal.
Green Bay and New Orleans have both been competing for Super Bowls in recent years as two of the most consistent teams in the NFC. Both teams have some big questions to answer entering 2021, and it’s unclear whether either will be competitive.
For the Packers, a lot comes down to whether Rodgers actually plays. For the Saints, the top storyline will be whether they can remain competitive without Brees.
Being without Thomas early in the season won’t help their playoff chances, although the Packers will need a good plan to stop running back Alvin Kamara, who had 197 total yards and two touchdowns against them last year.
We’re still seven weeks away from the season opener, but the Saints potentially being without Thomas is significant.