We are two days away from the Week 1 showdown between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.
The Packers are looking to complete their season opener with a win against a solid Saints team.
There are five important things the Packers should prepare for if they want to defeat the Saints.
5. Highly talented and motivated Jameis Winston
The Saints have finally named their starting quarterback in Jameis Winston.
Winston began his NFL career with Tampa Bay. Turnovers were a major problem for Winston, with 30 interceptions in 2019. But he has showed promise from learning under Drew Brees and will prepare for a fresh start on a new team.
Last season, Winston stepped in some while Brees was injured and played well. His hard work and determination in the offseason has earned him the starting position, and he is looking to prove why he deserves it.
Winston has a powerful arm which gives him the amazing ability to make deep passes. He is one of the best deep passers in the NFL. Winston’s play recognition is incredible as he knows how to extend plays. Learning from Brees will have definitely improved Winston’s game. Being under the guidance of Sean Payton has also been helpful.
The Packers need to provide excellent pass rush if they intend to slow down Winston.
Unfortunately, star linebacker Za’Darius Smith has been dealing with a back injury. Hopefully, he will be fully recovered and ready to play this Sunday as he is an essential defensive playmaker. Part of Smith’s success will be storming the backfield.
4. Excellent running game
The running game is a major part of the Saints’ offensive success as they have one of the best running backs in the league in Alvin Kamara. The Packers have struggled to contain Kamara in previous seasons as he has put up 304 yards and two touchdowns in just two career games against the Packers.
It was frustrating to watch the Packers defense struggle to contain the run last season.
If the Packers want to win, it is absolutely critical for the defense to stop the running game. Putting the brakes on Kamara will be a tough task, but with all of Green Bay’s talent on defense, they can get it done.
3. Talented receiving group
Not only do the Saints have a strong running game, they also have a talented receiving group that can make big plays. Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith can be huge playmakers.
Unfortunately for the Saints, Michael Thomas is out, a huge blow to their offense. Nevertheless, Winston will have plenty of weapons to work with this season.
The Packers secondary needs to be focused and provide excellent coverage by staying on the receivers and breaking up passes. Jaire Alexander is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with the ability to disrupt the passing game.
Newly-drafted cornerback Eric Stokes will also greatly help the secondary. Lombardi Ave’s Dillon Graff described Stokes as a “freak athlete at a premium position”. It would not be surprising to see him start over Kevin King this season.
2. Offensive play-calling
Saints head coach Sean Payton is one of the smartest play-callers in the NFL.
Payton has always been creative with his playbook which has allowed the Saints offense to fool many defenses, including Green Bay. The Packers defense should adequately prepare for a wide range of play calls. It is absolutely critical for the Packers defense to respond accordingly to Payton’s clever playbook.
1. Highly motivated team as a whole
This season will be completely different for the Saints as it will be their first one without their beloved quarterback Drew Brees. Still, expectations are high for the Saints with the talented Winston under center.
With that being said, they are looking to avenge their loss to Green Bay from last season. For the Packers to win, they need to play with a chip on their shoulder. The Saints will be firing from every angle, so it will be crucial for the Packers to play hard on both sides of the ball in all four quarters.
It will be interesting to see how Green Bay will execute in their first test of the season.