The New Orleans Saints defense has been one of the best in the league through two weeks of football. They went nearly two games without allowing a touchdown and are tied for fifth in scoring defense.
This week, they travel to Lambeau Field to take on Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers. The Packers offense has looked much better than many anticipated with Jordan Love finally getting his chance to lead the team. He has six touchdown passes through two games, but he’s only completing about half of his passes.
If you only look at the scores from the Packers first two games, you’d think this is a top-5 offense in the league. They’re the second highest scoring team in the NFL so far this season, averaging 31.0 PPG, but this is an offense that has sort of struggled.
Like I said earlier, Jordan Love is completing just over half his passes, and without Christian Watson, the Packers don’t have a receiver that has over 85 receiving yards this season. Through two games, Aaron Jones is their leading receiver with 86-yards, and he didn’t even play last week. Jayden Reed leads all of their wide receivers with 85-yards, and after that, Romeo Doubs is their second leading WR with 56-yards.
This is a very boom-or-bust offense that has struggled to move the ball downfield without a big play in the passing game. So far, the Saints have allowed just 4.8 yards per pass attempt this year and haven’t allowed very many deep shots downfield.
This is a Packers offense that’s going to rely on their running backs and tight ends to get open, but outside of a big reception by Derek Henry in Week one, the Saints have been able to hold opposing RBs and TEs to a combined 64-yards receiving through two weeks.
If Christian Watson is back this week, the Packers offense probably looks a lot different. He’ll take a lot of the attention and open up some of the other guys, but I still think Jordan Love will struggle to have a high completion percentage against this Saints secondary that has been dominant up to this point in the season.
On the ground, the Packers don’t have a single rusher that has more than 75-yards this season, and they rank 27th in the league in rush yards per attempt at 3.3. The Saints have had their struggles in the run game so far, allowing 5.0 yards per carry to their opponents, but they started to come along against Carolina, allowing 3.8 YPC to the Panthers running backs.
One area the Packers offense has excelled is in pass protection. Jordan Love has only been sacked twice this season, but they haven’t faced a pass rush like the Saints yet.
Cameron Jordan and Carl Granderson have combined to total 22 QB pressures this season, the most among any pass rushing duo in the NFL. On top of that, the Saints have Nathan Shepard on the interior who has the third highest pass rush grade of any interior defensive lineman.
Cameron Jordan: 11 pressures ⚜️— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) September 20, 2023
Carl Granderson: 11 pressures ⚜️
The New Orleans Saints have the most combined pressures by a defensive duo in the NFL this season - 22 pic.twitter.com/t6FniZGSwg
I know it sounds like I’m putting this Green Bay offense down, but I have to give them their flowers. They have been very successful on hitting deep shots and moving the sticks, but the Saints defense just isn’t going to allow those big plays. When the Packers haven’t gotten those big shots, they’ve struggled to move the ball methodically downfield, and that’s why I think the Saints defense could have another big day.
If the Packers want to have success on offense in this game, it’s going to start on the ground. If Aaron Jones is back, that’ll go a long way in helping the Packers get their rushing attack going, but if he misses his second game and they have to rely on Jordan Love to pass almost every play, it’s going to allow the Saints pass rushers to pin their ears back and get after Jordan Love while the secondary blankets their receivers on the backend.
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