Packers Ready To Kick It Off
Things To Watch In Packers v Saints
The Packers are 5-0 in prime time season opener. 4-0 on Monday Night. 1-0 on Sunday Night.
The goal is to stay perfect, and put Thursday Night on the list.
But in between Kid Rock, Maroon 5 and Lady A, there's a game to play...and here's some keys to watch:
Run, Mike, Run: The Saints right DE, Will Smith is suspended. He's one of the best New Orleans defenders, and the team was already weak against the run. With all of the weapons the Packers have, they should be a pass first team. But if they're serious about implementing a two-headed monster of Ryan Grant and James Starks in the backfield, and to keep Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams honest and prevent him from blitzing Aaron Rodgers into the ground...Mike McCarthy would be well advised to pick key spots to stay on the ground.
Offensive Offense: Other than the 2-minute or hurry-up offense, the Packers seemed to struggle in the preseason. Mirage, or will Aaron Rodgers have problems jump starting the "O" after a lockout filled offseason? I still have problems thinking the Saints can match up with all 4 Packers receivers and Jermichael Finley on a consistent basis.
On the Line: Gregg Williams loves to blitz. And blitz. And blitz some more. C Scott Wells seems to handle big DT's like Shaun Rogers well. But can RG Josh Sitton shake off a shaky preseason? And will Williams test the left side of the line, where new starter LG T.J. Lang and LT Chad Clifton reside?
Calm Brees: It's like a robot, 1-2-3 and the ball's coming out when Drew Brees is pulling the trigger. He gets the ball out quick. The Packers get a break with WR Lance Moore out. But TE Jimmy Graham at 6'6", 260 pounds and WR Marques Colston 6'4", 225 pounds and Robert Meachem 6'2", 210 pounds are big targets. RB Mark Ingram aims to take pressure off Brees.
Unleash the Hounds: Last year, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers kept his calls vanilla in the preseason. Then Clay Matthews had 3 sacks in the season opener against the Eagles, not only knocking Kevin Kolb out of the game with a concussion, but out of a job. I can't wait to see what the mad scientist mixed up in the lab for this one. RT Zach Stief, watch out because the Claymaker will be coming your way.
Kick me: If this game is close, which it should be...give the edge to the Pack. Mason Crosby seems to finally be harnessing his talent and strong leg, while the Saints had to sign 41-year-old kicker John Kasay to replace injured K Garrett Hartley.
Both teams won't be nearly at full strength in the season opener, but it will be a measuring stick. Eventually the offenses will get going...I'll say 35-31 Pack in a memorable game that will for now, put one team a leg up in the NFC.
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