Opening Day: Saints @ Packers

Opening Day: Saints @ Packers
The NFL season is coming at you. The season opens Thursday night where last season ended, with the Packers walking off the field with a W

By Kyle Soppe

The last two Super Bowl champions meet up in a stand-alone Thursday night game to open the 2011-2012 NFL season. Both teams have high expectations this year and the winner of this game gains the early leg up in the race for NFC home field advantage.

Green Bay Packers Led by Aaron Rodgers (an A-Rod that actually performs well under pressure) the Pack passed their way to supremacy last year. The offense not only stayed intact from last year’s magical playoff run, but they actually improved by getting healthy. Jermichael Finley will help an already explosive passing game as he adds a big athletic target that defenses will have a hard time matching up with. Joining Finley, the Cheeseheads have talented wide receivers with well defined roles. Greg Jennings is the team’s top target as Donald Driver settles into the “experienced but still productive” role. The duo, along with Finley, will require a lot of attention from opposing defenses, opening room for Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Nelson is a possession receiver that will gain the hard yards across the middle, while Jones stretches the field vertically. The Packers rely on the pass, but the running game will also see improvements. Ryan Grant is healthy after surgery on his ankle, and is ready to share the backfield with playoff hero (and UB product) James Starks. They won’t lead the league in carries, but their ability to keep defenses honest will open up the passing game.

New Orleans Saints Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy must have attended the same school of coaching, as he has a football team that is built in the same fashion. He uses a top 5 quarterback in Drew Brees to exploit defenses at will. He, too, has numerous receivers, however the Saints set is predicated more on breakaway speed than anything. Marques Colston is the team’s number 1 receiver who can both move the chains and come down with a Brees bomb. Lance Moore and Robert Meachem highlight a group of burners who spread the field. While the Packers have a slight advantage at WR, the Saints have the best RB in this game in Alabama rookie Mark Ingram. With Pierre Thomas banged up (off season ankle surgery has left his status for this one up in the air) and Christopher Ivory unproven, Ingram is ready to contribute right away. It’s a pass first offense, with the potential to gain balance as Ingram grows and matures.

Final Word: Aaron Rodgers threw multiple touchdown passes 8 times last year, and the Packers won all of those contests. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, good quarterbacks but not on the level of Rodgers, picked apart the Saints aggressive defense for multiple TD’s last year, as they beat the high flying Saints.

Soppe Score: Defending champs open with a win in front of a packed house, 31-24. A healthy offense is huge for the Packers, but I believe Clay Matthews and company make a big play down the stretch, and seal the victory.

4 Responses to "Opening Day: Saints @ Packers"

  1. Kurt   September 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

    This is the most biased piece of writing I have ever seen. Not really, the Packers are a better team, so dont over-hype this game. You said Ingram is ready to contribute, whereas unproven pro Chris Ivory isn’t – what makes Ingram more proven? Their runing game is pathetic until proven otherwise, even, dare I say, worse than the Packers. This inconsistency at RB is what lead the Saints to a, what many call, very underwhelming and under preforming season in 2010.

    I know the spread won’t be as large as it should, but the Packers should win by at least a touchdown

  2. Kyle Soppe   September 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Chris Ivory is injured, and won’t play. But either way, my point was that the Ingram will get his chance to shine because no one in front of him ever has. I’ll take Ingram over any other RB in this game. He runs hard, and knows how to move the chains.

    Opening night at the home of the Superbowl champs, this game cannot be over-hyped. The Packers (-4) is a fair line i think, the Saints are still among the NFC’s elite, and have a QB capable of dominating.

    And bias means I am looking at the game in an unfair light, but you picked the Pack to win by more than me 🙂

  3. Rey   September 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Heard someone compare Ingram to Emmit Smith in that he hits the hole every time and will get 3 yards on every carry just on the push. Pretty lofty expectation for him but I imagine that will benefit a team to have a guy who can run between the tackles hard while they spread the field.

  4. Kyle Soppe   September 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    What a game! Packers prevail with a goal line stand. 42-34 . letsssss gooo!

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