It’s back at last – Frank Doyle previews the first game of the new NFL season, New Orleans at Green Bay!
The NFL likes to start its season with a bang and it’s serving up what’s bound to be a treat tonight. World Champion Green Bay opens its title defense against the team that won the Super Bowl the year before, the New Orleans Saints.
Two of the best quarterbacks in the League, with legitimate shots to Canton immortality, two of the best offenses, and the return of football after the misery of the strike. What’s not to like?
The NFL odds see Green Bay as a steady -4.5 point favorite, and the total is a high 48.5. So are the numbers right?
Green Bay lays three points for home advantage, there’s another point for the Vince Lombardi trophy and maybe half a point more for Aaron Rodgers, who can book his place in Canton if he can continue his post-season form into this season.
Green Bay made the feared Steeler defense look old and tired in the Super Bowl and the Saints defense, with the greatest respect to the individual players, isn’t in the same mould as the Steelers.
The Saints defensive is aggressive, but they weren’t able to generate the same number of turnovers last season that they did in the Super Bowl year – nine interceptions last year against 26 the year before. The Saints become a much more fearsome threat if they can restore that big play ability on defense.
Even though both defensive co-ordinators are considered gurus of the art, tonight’s game will decided on offense. It will be a shootout, and the Packers are bringing more weapons. The injury to New Orleans’ Lance Moore means that the Packers have a greater downfield threat, and while Reggie Bush might not have fully delivered on the hype, he was still a valuable x-factor for the New Orleans offense.
Ryan Grant missed Green Bay’s Super Bowl run last year through injury but now he’s back and he’s yet another weapon at Aaron Rodgers’ disposal. Unless the Saints defense can return to the opportunism that won the Super Bowl for New Orleans, it’ll be Packers all the way at Lambeau Field tonight.