The Green Bay Packers are at Lambeau Field for the first time this regular season to take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. Here are four key things to watch for and some final thoughts on the matchup.
Following a fourth-quarter collapse against Atlanta that saw the offense unable to pick up a first down and the defense unable to stop the Falcons’ run game, the Packers are looking to rebound against a 2-0 Saints team that boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL through two games. Pick a key category, and they are probably ranked within the top 10.
"“I mean, they have a ton of players on that defense, and they challenge you,” said Matt LaFleur. “But they play aggressive and you’ve got to be very fundamentally sound. “Up front, you’ve got to do a great job of coming off the ball. Playing with great pad level because they are a physical bunch, and they play with extreme effort, and when you get effort plus scheme plus talent, you have one of the best defenses in the NFL.”"
From an injury standpoint, the Packers are hoping to get back some key players, with Aaron Jones and Christian Watson both listed as questionable after practicing in limited fashions on Friday. David Bakhtairi did not practice but is questionable and so are Lukas Van Ness and Jaire Alexander–both of whom practiced Friday.
How do the Packers’ young receivers fare against an aggressive Saints secondary?
The Green Bay Packers offense faces a challenging test this week, going up against a New Orleans defense that ranks among the best in several key categories from points per game, third-down defense, red zone defense, pressures, takeaways, and more. In fact, going back to last season, the Saints are currently riding a 10-game streak where they haven’t allowed more than 20 points in a game during that span.
"“Fast. Physical. Aggressive,” said Matt LaFleur about the Saints defense on Wednesday. “Very sound and want to challenge you on all three levels. Demario Davis is a game-wrecker. Cam Jordan. They got guys at all three levels. They’ve got complimentary pieces around that.”"
LaFleur added that he has communicated with the receivers that the Saints will grab and hold them. As we saw last season when Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson were rookies, press coverage and physical play can be difficult for young pass catchers to work around. With the Packers’ inability to push the ball downfield through the first half of the 2022 season, opponents were very willing to challenge the receivers at the line of scrimmage and throughout their routes.
Important for the Packers in an effort to combat the Saints’ style of play is going to be finding some sort of success on the ground so they don’t become one-dimensional. Moving the ball is going to be very difficult if this becomes the case. Also, continuing to utilize motion often and maximizing their versatility by throwing a lot of different looks at the Saints’ defense will be key as well in giving the receivers free releases at the line of scrimmage, along with helping to get them in space and creating mismatches.