The New Orleans Saints are off to a 2-0 start behind back-to-back stellar performances from their defense. Derek Carr and the offense have yet to fully click for an entire game, but they’ve shown flashes of what this offense can become if they can put it all together.
This weekend, the Saints travel to Lambeau to take on the Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers. The Packers opened up their season by stifling the Bears offense, but last week, their defense looked pretty vulnerable against the Falcons.
Today, we’re going to dive into how the Saints offense matches up with the Packers defense, and the first matchup on the agenda is the Saints offensive line vs. the Packers defensive line.
To put it lightly, the Saints offensive line has struggled in pass protection so far this season. Through two games, Derek Carr has already been sacked eight times, and he’s been under duress during a lot of his drop backs. On the flip side, the Packers defensive line has totaled five sacks through two games, four of which came against the Bears.
The Packers have two truly elite pass rushers in Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary, both of whom have earned an 82+ pass rush grade through two weeks. Kenny Clark has provided the third most pressures of any defensive tackle in the league, while Rashan Gary has the highest pass rush win rate of any edge rusher in the league.
The Saints offensive line is going to have to improve heavily if this offense wants to find success against the Packers defense. We’ve already seen way too many drives killed by sacks this season, and if the Saints want to keep winning games, they’re going to have to find ways to get better upfront.
Our second matchup for today is going to be how the Saints running game matches up with the Packers run defense.
Once again, a lot of this boils down to the offensive line play. Luckily for the Saints, their offensive line looked a lot better in the run game than the pass game on Monday night. The Packers also just allowed the Falcons to run the ball 45 times for 211-yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
With Kamara suspended and Jamaal Williams potentially out, the Saints are going to have to rely on Kendre Miller to carry a big load this weekend. Miller was almost a go on Monday, but the Saints decided to sit him out for precautionary reasons.
If Miller is the only one of the big three to go, the Saints are going to have to rely on Tony Jones and Taysom Hill to compliment Miller who hasn’t played a full football game since January.
This is a hard matchup to judge with all the variables, but as long as Miller and/or Williams is able to go, the Saints should be able to find some success on the ground like they did on Monday.
Finally, we get to the Saints passing attack vs. the Packers passing defense.
The Packers have one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Jaire Alexander, but his 2023 season hasn’t gone as planned so far. As the closest CB in coverage, Alexander has allowed six catches on eight targets for 103-yards and a touchdown.
The Saints wide receivers are by far the best that the Packers have faced this season, and this is a passing defense that just allowed Desmond Ridder to dice them up for 237-yards and touchdown.
The Packers play a zone defense a majority of the time, and so far this season, the Saints receivers have been able to feast against zone defenses. Here are some numbers for the Saints wide outs against zone coverage this year according to PFF:
- Chris Olave: 10 receptions on 15 targets for 117-yards
- Michael Thomas: Six catches on seven targets for 71-yards
- Rashid Shaheed: Four catches on five targets for 60-yards
If these results hold true this weekend, Derek Carr and the Saints should be able to dice up the Packers secondary. Carr has missed a few throws and had two bad interceptions, but if he can clean that up and make better decisions, I see the Saints receivers having a big day on Sunday.
Overall, the Saints should be able to find success through the air, but I want to see the ground game really get going. If Miller and Williams are healthy and the offensive line can play the run like they did on Monday night, the only thing that can hold this offense back on Sunday is their pass protection.
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