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Packers vs Saints: Week 1 NFL preview

Matt Johnson

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The New Orleans Saints face the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the NFL season, a marquee matchup featuring NFL stars Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Alvin Kamara.

Our Packers vs Saints preview examines the game info for Week 1, key matchups that will determine the outcome and makes predictions for Sunday’s game.

Click here to see where the Packers and Saints land in our Week 1 NFL power rankings

Packers vs Saints: What you need to know

Let’s examine the top matchups for Sunday’s Packers vs Saints game.

Aaron Rodgers vs Jameis Winston

Packers vs Saints, Jameis Winston
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to call this quarterback battle a mismatch. Coming off his third NFL MVP season, Aaron Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns this past season with a 121.5 passer rating and only five interceptions. To put Rodgers’ numbers in perspective, he had fewer interceptions (24) from 2016-’20 than Winston threw in 2019 (30).

Check out our Green Bay Packers season forecast

Everyone remembers Winston’s historic 30-30 season, but this is a real chance at redemption. He easily won the Saints’ quarterback battle in training camp and made some impressive throws in the preseason. There’s a reason he was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and we’ll see some of that arm talent on Sunday.

  • Make a Statement: After all the offseason drama, Rodgers created another chip to put on his shoulder this season. He’ll use that to his advantage against the Saints, who he holds a 4-2 career record against with a 104.4 passer rating and 69.3% completion rate.
  • Turn up the Heat: The Saints’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, which is crucial for Winston. As a starter in 2019, he posted the worst passer rating (44.5) and received the second-lowest PFF grade (34.0) when under pressure. Expect a lot of blitzing in this Packers vs Saints contest.

Advantage: Aaron Rodgers

Click here for the Week 1 NFL injury report on top fantasy stars

Marshon Lattimore vs Davante Adams

Packers vs Saints, Davante Adams
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Davante Adams is coming one off one of the best single-season performances we’ve seen from a receiver in recent memory. In 14 games, technically 13 when factoring in an early exit, he hauled in 115 receptions for 1,374 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s now in a bitter contract dispute with the Packers. We’d say he and Rodgers will do everything in their power to bump the asking price up.

Find out where the Packers and Saints land in our NFL defense rankings

Speaking of being financially motivated, Marshon Lattimore is in the same boat. A contract extension with the Saints seems unlikely before kick off, which puts Lattimore closer to free agency. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, this is a great opportunity to prove he deserves to be one of the highest-paid corners in the NFL.

  • Time Flies: Adams didn’t play against the Saints when these teams faced off in 2020. So, this will be the first Lattimore vs Adams matchup since 2017. Back then, Lattimore was a rookie and Adams was just settling in as the Packers’ No. 1 receiver.
  • Name more than Ability: If the Saints primarily put Lattimore on Adams, things might not work out how they hope. According to Pro Football Focus, Lattimore surrendered a 103.3 passer rating in coverage last season and he can get burned in coverage (13.9 yards per reception allowed).

Advantage: Davante Adams

Saints’ wide receivers vs Packers’ secondary

Packers vs Saints
Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway (1) catches a touchdown pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a reason the Saints wanted Michael Thomas to undergo ankle surgery early this offseason. By delaying the operation until June, the All-Pro receiver starts the regular season on the PUP list and won’t play in Week 1. It’s bad news for a very thin Saints’ receiving corps.

With Thomas out indefinitely and Tre’Quan Smith ruled out, Marquez Callaway, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Deonte Harris are the Saints’ top receivers in Week 1.

On the other side, Green Bay should be feeling confident. Jaire Alexander, who boasts All-Pro talent, doesn’t need to shadow anyone. He can erase one section of the field, limiting Winston’s options. With one area closed, the Packers’ safety duo can create problems.

  • A New Star: Few players in the NFL generated more buzz during the preseason than Marquez Callaway. He seems to have a special connection with Winston and if Alexander isn’t following him, Callaway could win some battles against Kevin King and Eric Stokes.
  • X-Factor: When watching the Packers vs Saints contest, keep an eye on Darnell Savage. A first-round pick in 2019, Savage showed elite traits in 2020. He can rush the passer and excels in coverage, skills that will be very useful against New Orleans.

Advantage: Green Bay Packers

The bottom line: Hurricane Ida forced this game out of New Orleans and the move to Jacksonville doesn’t give the Saints any home-field advantage. With injuries and suspensions on both sides of the ball, the Saints are just completely overmatched in this Week 1 battle.