Until the novelty wears off, I thought it would be fun to get predictions for the upcoming slate of NFL games from people with no particular football expertise, largely selected from the people on my Facebook chat window. Also, this serves as a helpful reminder that we have a Pro Football Pick'em game you can play, where the the nationwide best of the prognosticating best wins a trip to Hawaii.
Today, we're looking at tonight's game with the New Orleans Saints traveling to Green Bay to play the Packers in a matchup of the two most recent NFL champs. Our guest: local lawyer, afrobeat fan and incredibly nice guy, Rob Ferrier:
So the two teams that had the bad grace to disappoint the nation by being teams not named the Steelers to win Super Bowls face off for the opening tilt of 2011.
The nod in this game goes to the Pack. Winning at Lambeau Field is a tall order for any visiting team. Playing in Green Bay is simply a disorienting experience for professional athletes that don’t run track or play team tennis. Small town, small motel. A population that is a good deal, shall we say, less urban than your typical NFL player is used to. A long bus ride to the game. Add the fact that the stands will be packed with cheese-wearing lunatics still celebrating both the return of the Lombardi trophy to Titletown and Vat-Scraping Day at the Leinenkugel brewery. This is the best home field advantage in professional sports.
But even in New Orleans, the Saints would have trouble running with the Pack. With the subtraction of Reggie Bush, the Saints will be hard-pressed to find the speed to stretch the Pack’s defense. Without that threat, the Saints can’t run the ball. If they can’t run the ball, Drew Brees won’t get the five and seven step drops he needs to peer through, yes, through, the Packer defense to pass effectively. Please remember that Drew Brees is approximately three feet tall. He needs more than a static pocket. He needs his line to generate up-front push to establish passing lanes to give him the downfield vision to pass effectively. He’s unlikely to get it. The Pack might be the fastest defense in football. Speed kills.
That said, Drew Brees is the most underrated player in football. He’s a genuine leader. Everyone on offense and defense would kill and eat their young to give him a victory on opening day. Within the mildewy confines of the Superdome, the Saints would have a chance to rattle a young and at times shaky Packer offense. With the return of the ball-hawking defense of 2009, the Saints might get in the head of an Aaron Rogers who, at times, lives in there too much.
But this ain’t 2009. And this game ain’t in New Orleans.
The bottom line? New Orleans needs to force at least three turnovers to win this game. In the absence of that, they don’t have the horses to hang with the Pack. The Pack win by ten.