After an uncertain NFL offseason, the 2011 campaign finally kicks off Thursday night with a potential NFC Championship clash between the last two Superbowl Champs. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will pay a visit to historic Lambeau Field to do battle with the Green Bay Packers.
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The Green Bay Packers are about as complete of a football team as you’ll find currently in the NFL. During last year’s dominant run the Packers absolutely steamrolled the opposition with a lethal, quick-strike offense, and an opportunistic defense that returns eleven starters. The Packers are again in the conversation for repeating as this year’s champions, and having a healthy version of talented tight-end Jeremichael Finley certainly boosts their chances.
The Saints last season were exactly what Green Bay hopes to avoid in the 2011 campaign. After winning Superbowl 44 in February of 2010, the Saints scraped into the playoffs, getting thrashed in the first round by the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. Moreover, their firm hold over their division was relinquished last season as the upstart Atlanta Falcons knocked the Saints off of their perch. This season in New Orleans, the prevailing theme is redemption. The Saints, led by the cerebral Drew Brees under centre were well-organized throughout the lockout as they held a variety of informal workouts over the course of the summer months. They are focused, and enter this season realizing a valuable opportunity slipped away last year, and are keen on returning to their dominant ways in 2011.
Saints vs Packers Spread and Over Under Line:
New Orleans Saints +4
@ Green Bay Packers -4
OVER 47.5 (-110)
UNDER 47.5 (-110)
Saints vs Packers Pick:
This game could easily be one of the best all season, and should be an explosive tilt between two dynamic offenses. Both quarterbacks have firm grasps of their respective offenses and are two of the best field marshals in football. The total has hovered around 47 points after opening initially at 46. Expect a high-scoring affair, and although in Week 1 offenses are still familiarizing themselves with playbooks and overall game flow, both the Saints and Packers will not go through an awkward feeling-out phase.
That said, picking a side in this match-up is a more difficult proposition. Both squads enter this game riding waves of confidence, however the Saints will be devoid of key defensive end Will Smith in this one. This won’t allow New Orleans to get adequate pressure on the lethal Rodgers, and in turn give the Packers’ quarterback time to sit back in the pocket and pick the Saints secondary apart. Rodgers is loaded with weapons at all skills positions, and the Saints depleted defense won’t have an answer for a continuation of Packers domination.