The Saints will be seeking their 4th straight victory this coming Sunday when they travel up to Wisconsin to face the NFC North division opponent Green Bay Packers at their home stadium, the legendary Lambeau Field; in what will be another critical match-up within the conference for New Orleans.
The amazing Saints' turnaround after getting beaten badly in their first 2 games is the talk of the NFL right now; and they will seek to continue that turnaround against a banged-up Packers team that just lost starting All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers, and is missing several other several key starters due to injuries.
Packers 3rd year QB Brett Hundley will get his first-ever NFL start against a Saints defense that has gone from looking like one of the NFL's worst defenses, to one of its best. The Saints defense forced 5 turnovers and scored a franchise record 3 touchdowns in last week’s wild and unforgettable 52-38 win over the Detroit Lions.
Remarkably, the odds-makers have the Saints as a heavy road favorite this week (some as high as a 6-point favorite) despite the mystique that will surround their young team as many of them visit the sacred venue of Lambeau in the "Land of Lombardi" for the first time of their NFL careers.
It's with that in mind this morning, that the Saints News Network presents 5 "bold" predictions for this Sunday afternoon's contest as New Orleans attempts to win its 4th straight game in a row, at the legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin against the short-handed but still dangerous Packers.
And we'll start first at #5, and work our way down to #1......
#5. IN PRE-GAME WARMUPS, THE TWO TEAMS ENGAGE IN SOME "TRASH-TALKING" THAT NEARLY BREAKS OUT INTO A BRAWL
The Packers are a vulnerable team right now thanks to all of the injuries that they've suffered already on the young season thus far; and it's safe to say that the Green Bay organization is feeling the stress of trying to remain in contention for a shot at the Playoffs down the line despite not having Aaron Rodgers for their remaining 10 games.
Meanwhile, the Saints are riding high emotionally after their last 3 performances that have culminated in one of the most impressive stretches of play in the entire Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era.
As the two teams take the field for warm-ups, some good-natured and spirited "trash-talking" gets a bit TOO spirited — and several players get up in each other's faces and have to be separated before a WWE-like 'battle royal' breaks out.
Among the pleasantries: a nose-to-nose confrontation between Saints rookie and Wisconsin native Ryan Ramczyk (who will be playing in front of a handful of family and friends in attendance) and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews that nearly threatens to turn into a virtual street-fight.
#4. SAINTS ROOKIE CORNERBACK MARSHON LATTIMORE CONTINUES HIS PHENOMENAL ROOKIE SEASON WITH ANOTHER 'PICK 6' — AND THEN DOES THE "LAMBEAU LEAP" AFTERWARDS
It goes without saying after the first 5 games of the 2017 season that the Saints struck gold with rookie Marshon Lattimore in this past April's Draft, when you consider that the sensational rookie out of Ohio State hasn’t given up a touchdown yet and had the first-ever 'Pick-6' of his young NFL career this past Sunday against the Lions.
Lattimore is the highest rated rookie cornerback in the NFL right now according to Pro Football Focus, and this Sunday he likely will draw one-on-one coverage against the Packers' top WR Devante Adams.
Rookie CBs who have impressed so far in 2017 pic.twitter.com/wzGxttGWb4
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 17, 2017
Lattimore will continue to build upon his impressive rookie season thus far with another phenomenal performance, limiting Adams to 5 catches for 77 yards, and also intercepting a pass intended for Adams out in the flat that he takes back for another "Pick 6" TD and then to add insult to injury: takes the famous "Lambeau Leap" into the stands where he is pushed away by angry Packers fans.
#3. AVERAGING 38 POINTS PER GAME IN THEIR LAST 5 MEETINGS AGAINST THE PACKERS, DREW BREES AND THE THE SAINTS OFFENSE HAVE ANOTHER BIG DAY AGAINST GREEN BAY'S "NITRO" DEFENSE
The Packers defense was short-handed last week in Minneapolis, and they were already missing starting slot CB Morgan Burnett (hamstring), rookie CB Kevin King (concussion) and veteran CB Davin House (quad) — which forced Green Bay to literally "patch together" a secondary on several different occasions in their loss to the Vikings.
After losing Burnett's back-up at slot CB (Quentin Rollins) for the remainder of the 2017 season due to an ankle injury, there was one point in the Packers' loss to Minnesota last Sunday when they were down to only one available CB (Josh Hawkins).
That will be something that Sean Payton and Drew Brees, who has thrown for 1,321 yards in the Saints’ first five games with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, will seek to take full advantage of this Sunday.
The Saints have averaged 38 points per game against the Packers with Brees as the starting QB for the past 10-plus seasons (5 games), and that pace will continue this Sunday when Brees throws for 355 yards passing and 4 TD's against the vulnerable Packers "Nitro" defense (three safeties, three cornerbacks, three linebackers and two defensive linemen); aided by 2 rushing TD's from Mark Ingram.
#2. PACKERS NEW STARTING QB BRETT HUNDLEY DOES BETTER THAN EXPECTED RUNNING THE PACKERS OFFENSE, BUT NOT WITHOUT GETTING SMACKED AROUND BY THE RESURGENT SAINTS DEFENSE
After they lost starting All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers this past Sunday to a broken collarbone that has likely ended his season, the Packers offense was an absolute mess with 3rd year back-up QB Brett Hundley. The former UCLA star completed 18-of-33 pass attempts for 157 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He was also sacked four times.
Meanwhile, Green Bay RB Ty Montgomery was held to 28 yards on 10 carries as he continues to deal with the pain that's been suffering with broken ribs. That lack of a running game for the Packers offense will put even more pressure on Hundley; who now gets to face a Saints defense that forced 5 turnovers (3 of them going for defensive scores) against the Lions on Sunday, and only just two weeks removed from shutting out the Dolphins.
The Packers and head coach Mike McCarthy won't fear being aggressive with Hundley however, and you can expect that they'll still try to run their offense as best as possible by testing the Saints defense in any possible way that they can.
Let us not forget: McCarthy CAN develop young QB's, just as he did with former Saints QB Aaron Brooks back during the 2000 NFL season, when McCarthy was offensive coordinator for the Saints under then-head coach Jim Haslett.
Just a thought for #Saints fans underestimating Brett Hundley: was a good QB at UCLA, & Mike McCarthy CAN develop QB's (Aaron Brooks, 2000)
— Barry Hirstius (@BarryHirstius) October 18, 2017
Nevertheless, the glowing red-hot Saints defense will be attacking Hundley all game long, sacking him another 5 times and picking him off twice — but not before Hundley has a decent day passing (292 yards, 2 TD passes) and scores a TD running the ball on a scramble.
#1. AS THE GAME PROGRESSES DEEP INTO THE 4TH QUARTER, THE PACKERS ARE THREATENING TO TIE THE SCORE, WHEN SUDDENLY.....
.....Brett Hundley is blind-sided on a hit by Saints defensive end Alex Okafor, who recovers Hundley's fumble setting up the Saints offense near mid-field. On the VERY NEXT play, Brees hits a streaking Ted Ginn, Jr. down the sidelines for a 51-yard TD, and just like that the Saints are up 42-28.
The Packers get the ball back and down 2 scores, are forced into their hurry-up offense but come away empty when a Hundley pass intended for Davante Adams on 4th down-and-4 is tipped away by Lattimore.
The Saints get the ball back once again and get a first down, and then rack on a late Wil Lutz field goal for the eventual final margin of victory. It's a valiant effort on the part of a short-handed Green Bay team, but the football gods are smiling on New Orleans at this moment — as the Saints get a VERY RARE win in the team's history at the venerable stadium known famously as Lambeau Field.......