Two teams that came into the 2012 season with high hopes, the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers, square off today in a Week 4 matchup that has far less luster than the schedule makers envisioned back in the spring. It sees the Saints seeking their first win of the year while the 1-2 Packers are trying to recover from getting robbed and jobbed by the fake refs on Monday Night Football.
Well, the way I see it, that just means that both teams are very hungry for a win, and should be fighting for all they're worth this afternoon. Hopefully that will make for an entertaining and exciting game.
After careful consideration and research I have come up with the following four Hot Reads that the Saints must make correctly to emerge victorious...
Saints vs Packers coverage
Now more than ever, with the defense in disarray and the offense still trying to find its' groove, it begins and ends with PROTECTING DREW BREES so he can do what he does best. I'm afraid that at this point in the season, the way it's been playing out, it's going to take a perfect game from Brees for the Saints to get a win.
What I'd Like To See: The Saints must keep Brees upright and off the ground with time to throw, especially with ferocious sackmaster Clay Matthews (6 sacks in 2012) on the prowl, and with a sealed pocket to step into. From the stat sheet, that means 0 sacks and 0 INTs will be what does it.
Checkdown # 1
Against the Chiefs, Devery Henderson nearly broke a long TD catch and run in the first half, and Jimmy Graham dropped a difficult but catchable deep ball over the middle that would have converted a crucial third down in the second half. These plays would have made a huge difference in that game, so the Saints absolutely must hit on these BIG PLAY PAYDAYS IN THE PASSING GAME to stun the top-ranked Packer pass defense they'll be facing this week.
What I'd Like To See: Either at least one huge scoring pass play (40 or more yards) or at least 5 big gains (25 or more yards) through the air. If they give me both, I might die from over-joy. And with the real refs back, I'll count defensive pass interference calls of 25 or more yards in this category.
Checkdown # 2
You think things have been bad for the Saints defense so far? Well, this week, injuries to starting weakside linebacker David Hawthorne as well as his backup, Jonathan Casillas leave the Saints with only five healthy linebackers, and a probable starting trio of: Scott Shanle, Curtis Lofton, and Will Herring. So in addition to depending on the skills of an interim-interim head coach, they'll be depending on the mad skillz of the RISE OF THE BACKUP-BACKUP LINEBACKER.
What I'd Like To See: Good Will Herring is one of my favorite movies, and a good Will Herring is who needs to show up on the field. Six or more tackles, at least two for losses, and no major gaffes in pass coverage.
For this week's final piece of the victory puzzle, I'm going to call on the lyrical wisdom of the 70s and 80s superband Toto. It comes from a single that peaked at # 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and topped the South African Singles Chart of 1978-79. Any guesses yet? Allow me to continue.
The Packers' high-octane offense has stalled a bit this year (does that sound familiar?), averaging only 226 passing yards and 78 rushing yards per game while scoring just 19 points each week. For a 2012 Saints defense that has allowed three teams to notch notable and even record-setting offensive output, it's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you do (you're welcome for the 10-minute Live in Amsterdam version), but it may be too much to ask them to shut down anyone's offense. So, please just HOLD THE LINE on a struggling Packer offense.
What I'd Like To See: An improving Saints defense that keeps the Packers' offense somewhere close to their 2012 season averages to date (within five points and 50 yards).
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And even though the look and feel are new, this is STILL the place for our pre-pre-pre-game Open Thread. What are you wearing? What are you eating/drinking? Who are you watching in the early games as we await the 4:25 EDT kickoff? What do you think about these Hot Reads and the Saints' chances today?