Green Bay Packers vs New Orleans Saints — Gus Kattengell’s Preview
The New Orleans Saints take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Pre-game will start at 5:30pm here on 97.3 The Dawg followed by the kick-off at 7:25pm.
Our Saints Reporter Gus Kattengell gives you his take on this crucial game for the Black & Gold.
PACKERS VS SAINTS
The New Orleans Saints 2014 hasn’t gone according to plan. A team picked by many to be a Super Bowl contender sits at 2-4 heading into a primetime showdown against 5-2 Green Bay.
There’s an understandable uneasiness in the Crescent City as the Black and Gold’s season is on the brink of becoming one to lament and forget. A loss Sunday would give the team its worst seven-game start under Sean Payton and match their season total of defeats from a season ago.
The Packers enter the game playing solid football thanks to the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 18 touchdowns to just one interception has Saints fans going “oh no” as the Saints secondary is riddled with injuries. Rodgers has thrown for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns without an interception during the Packers current four game winning streak. Green Bay last week hammered Carolina, a team with a pretty good defense.
The team and the fans hold on to the hope however that at home the Saints have been unbeatable in primetime night games, 13-0 since 2008. Still the task is a tall one.
Center Jonathan Goodwin suffered an injury last week and Tim Lelito is in. RBs Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas have missed practice this week. CB Keenan Lewis is battling a toe injury.
One other ray of hope is that the NFC South isn’t exactly playing good football. Carolina sits atop of the division at 3-3-1. The Saints play the Panthers on a short week next Thursday night in Carolina.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Yup, you guessed it. We start with the Saints defense. Rex Ryan’s defense played it’s best ball of the season last week overall but once again bad angles, untimely penalties and failure to make a play late lost them the game. There were signs of hope though with four sacks and two interceptions. Aaron Rodgers right now though is on fire. The noise won’t effect him and he simply isn’t turning the ball over and more dangerously is finding receivers in the endzone. There’s no way the Saints defense stops him, you just hope they can force field goals and get one or two punts.
THE SAINTS OFFENSE
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is taking criticism this week for once again throwing a costly interception. Add the injuries to Robinson and Thomas and the pressure for the offense to produce has grown. The Saints receivers were finally apart of the game last week as Marques Colston and Kenny Stills went over 100 yards and nine different players caught at least one pass. A similar game will need to happen this week for the Saints to have any chance at a win.
Two players stand out as players that can affect the game positively for the Saints and increase their chance at winning. WR Brandin Cooks on offense and DE Cam Jordan on defense. Cooks caught just two passes for 23 yards in Detroit and was targeted only three times. That’s simply not enough. The team’s first round pick is dynamic and is the only player on the roster that has the ability to score every time he touches the football. I feel the Saints need to start targeting him at least 10 times a game. Cooks can not only give you points but a few big plays could get the dome rocking, bringing to life a key element in Sunday’s game.
As for Jordan it’s simple. It’s time. In fact it’s past time. Jordan, after a 12.5 sack season, has just one sack this season. The Saints HAVE to get pressure on Rodgers, if not, this game will be over at halftime if they are lucky. Junior Galette has been getting pressure up front but that is just on one side, having a double barrel attack would go a long way to helping.
I get the Saints are fantastic at home especially under the primetime light. My eyes and history is telling me though that this season is shaping up to be one we’ll be talking about for a while. As in how did it go so wrong? It’s a must win. A season saving game if you ask me as the division can only be so bad for so long. You go down 2-5 you’re battling the final 9 games to make the post season. Green Bay can score. The Saints have the ability to score. Green Bay defensively has it’s moments and can get after the quarterback. The Saints defense has shown it can play well but that it can also allow scores late in games. This comes down to trust and the QBs. Aaron Rodgers is playing better than Drew Brees. I trust his decision-making and am starting to question Drew’s. Packers win 31-24.