After a less than attractive Thursday Night Football game, we’re going to get some exciting primetime games Sunday and Monday night. In the first primetime slot on Sunday Night Football, the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have a showdown in the dome at the Superdome.
The Saints are coming off a shaky performance in the inaugural game in Las Vegas against the Raiders. Great start, but the Saints got lazy and allowed the Raiders to march back and win a 34-24 contest. The Saints had a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but looked nothing like the same team thereafter.
I wouldn’t read too far into that game. The Saints are still a really good team, and the Raiders are probably in the next tier below them. The absence of Michael Thomas did hurt the Saints, though I’d put more of their problems last Monday night on bad defense, which includes porous tackling. Back at home in a more comfortable environment, expect a better effort from the Saints. Thomas has been ruled out for the second consecutive week, and will not play on Sunday night versus the Packers.
The Packers were on the opposite end last week. They were down early in the first quarter, 14-3, and came back against a bad Detroit defense for a 42-21 win. The Lions are lost in the park defensively, so can’t say I’m surprised with what transpires there. This matchup between the Packers and Lions should be highly entertaining. Do you back the team with momentum, or jump on the Saints in a possible bounce back spot?
All I’m concerned with on Sunday night is the props, so that question isn’t too important to me. If the props come through, I will have a good Sunday night in New Orleans. Head below for our free Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints props picks for September 27, 2020 in NFL Week 3.
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) September 27, 2020
Alvin Kamara Receiving Yards
With Michael Thomas out, Alvin Kamara is one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets. This was the case even before Thomas was out, but Brees is looking for Kamara even more without Thomas in the offense. Kamara does a lot more than just run the football in the Saints’ offense.
He is a pass-catcher and plays more of a dual role than anything. Kamara recently reached a contract extension with the Saints, and his agent surely made it clear that he’s more than a running back in negotiations. Kamara has already caught 14 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown.
We saw what the Saints did with Kamara without Thomas in the offense last week. He gained 79 yards on the ground on 13 carries, and then hauled in 9 receptions for 95 yards receiving. Kamara will once again be the center of attention for the Saints on Sunday night. Note that D’Andre Smith had 5 receptions and 60 receptions for the Lions last week against the Packers. Kamara should be able to do something similar.
In his first three seasons, Kamara finished with 826 yards, 709 yards, and 533 yards through the air. There are some receivers that would love to get as many chances as Kamara gets in the passing game. The oddsmakers smartened up from last week, but 47.5 yards still looks a bit too low here. Kamara should be able to finish with 50+ receiving yards on Sunday night.
Tre’Quan Smith Receiving Yards
Drew Brees needed a new No. 1 target following the absence of Michael Thomas last weekend. While Kamara is going to be targeted plenty by Brees, somebody has to stretch the field in this offense. Smith jumped right into an increased role last week on Monday night football and immediately saw a bump in production. Brees looked his way often and it paid off for the third-year wide receiver, who caught 46 balls for 661 yards in his first season.
He was a great target in the end zone for Brees. Smith has racked up 5 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for a total of 10. Thomas was stealing yards away from Smith, but with him out again, expect Smith to reap the benefits once again. Smith was strong last week in an increased role in Las Vegas.
He was the leading wide receiver for the Saints, as Smith went for 5 receptions and 86 yards on 17.2 yards per reception. With Thomas officially out, expect Smith to play a big role in the offense for a second consecutive week. He may not be able to match the 80+ yards he accumulated last week against a better Packers’ defense in Week 3. Nevertheless, Smith likely gets to around the 60-yard mark, making this a good bet on Sunday Night Football.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling Receptions
Michael Thomas isn’t expected to be the only star wide receiver out of this game. Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 target, Davante Adams, is probably not playing on Sunday night either. Adams is listed as doubtful on the injury report, so that leaves bigger roles for Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard. Malcolm Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore will be tasked with slowing down the Packers’ passing attack. Jenkins will likely be on Lazard, leaving Lattimore to cover Valdes-Scantling.
Even with Adams on the field, Valdes-Scantling has been seeing plenty of targets from Rodgers. Valdes-Scantling caught 4 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, and then followed up for 3 receptions and 64 yards last week against the Lions. After the Packers took a comfortable lead, throwing the ball around wasn’t necessary. They pounded the ball with Aaron Jones and the Lions bled out on the ground.
I don’t see them being able to do the same against the Saints on the road on Sunday night. This is likely a much closer game, with Rodgers forced to make more plays with his arm. The Saints are one of the best defenses in the NFL at stopping the run, thus Valdes-Scantling should get more looks than he did last week. Expect a much better performance from the New Orleans’ secondary this week, but I still like Valdes-Scantling to rack up at least 4 receptions in this one.