The Green Bay Packers will kick off their 2021 season with a road showdown versus the New Orleans Saints. Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the game is unexpected to be played in New Orleans, as the NFL continues to determine a location. Regardless of where the teams play, it will be Aaron Rodgers against Jameis Winston at the quarterback position.
The Packers enter Week 1 as one of the favorites to win the NFC, especially with Rodgers returning for his 17th season with the organization. On the other hand, there is a ton of uncertainty surrounding the Saints as they enter the Winston era.
Ahead of what should be an intriguing matchup, here are three things to watch for the Packers in Week 1 versus the Saints.
How Does Kevin King Perform?
Back in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Packers took Kevin King in the second round out of Washington. King took a couple of years to become a mainstay in the defense as he’s started in 26 games over the past two seasons. On the opposite side of the field as King, Jaire Alexander has cemented himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the league.
While Alexander is expected to have an All-Pro season in 2021, King will need to prove that he’s still worthy of being the No. 2 cornerback. Green Bay used their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Eric Stokes, a cornerback out of Georgia. If King continues to show inconsistencies in his game and be a liability at coverage at times — like he did in the playoffs last season — then he could be replaced by the rookie cornerback.
It will be vital for King to get off to a strong start versus the Saints, who will be without Michael Thomas.
How Does De’Vondre Campbell Fare At Inside Linebacker?
Ever since losing Blake Martinez last offseason, the Packers have been searching for an inside linebacker that can lead their defense. Green Bay signed Christian Kirksey in 2020 in hopes that he would be the answer, but he’s now a member of the Houston Texans. To replace Kirksey, the Packers brought in De’Vondre Campbell, who spent four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons before joining the Arizona Cardinals last season.
Campbell has combined for 228 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, eight pass deflections, four forced fumbles, four sacks, and two interceptions in the past two seasons. Seeing that Alvin Kamara is still a focal point of the Saints’ offense, it will be up to Cambell and co. to slow down the electric running back.
Getting a strong showing from Campbell in Week 1 would be a positive development for the Packers.
Who Emerges As The No. 2 Wide Receiver?
In recent seasons, the Packers have been longing for someone to step up as their No. 2 wide receiver. Davante Adams is arguably the best wideout in the NFL, but no one has solidified themselves as the second fiddle to Adams. Both Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling did nothing to separate themselves in 2020, so they battled it out in training camp to determine who will begin the season as the No. 2.
Besides Randall Cobb manning the slot, it appears we could see Valdes-Scantling begin the season as the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth. However, seeing how close it is between Valdes-Scantling and Lazard, there are no guarantees beyond Week 1.
If either Lazard or Valdes-Scantling can put together a performance that catches the eye of Rodgers, they could begin to solidify their status as one of his favorite targets this season. At the same time, it would begin to quiet the murmurs of fans wanting the franchise to make a move for another wide receiver.