The Green Bay Packers will kick off their 2021 season against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. The consensus is for the Packers to be able to handle business on the road, though, Hurricane Ida could force the game to be played elsewhere. Wherever the game ends up being played, most people are going to pick Green Bay to beat New Orleans to start the season in the win column.
Following a heartbreaking loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers have their sights set on one final run with Aaron Rodgers under center. The band is also (partly) back together with Randall Cobb rejoining Davante Adams in the receiving corps.
While we countdown the days until the regular season begins, here are five reasons why the Packers will defeat the Saints in Week 1.
5. The Packers Have Aaron Rodgers
Simply put, the Packers have a guy named Aaron Rodgers operating their offense. There were doubts about Rodgers returning to Green Bay this season as he’s grown frustrated with the organization, but he reworked his contract to give him control of his future after this season. So with Rodgers essentially having one more year with the Packers, he’s motivated to win another ring for the people in Green Bay.
Rodgers is coming off of an MVP season in 2020 and you could argue he now has a better supporting cast than he did a season ago. While the Saints no longer have Drew Brees at quarterback, the Packers have a massive edge at the quarterback position, putting them in a perfect spot to win the game.
4. Saints Still Have Uncertainty At The Quarterback Position
New Orleans has named Jameis Winston their starting quarterback in Week 1 after he beat out Taysom Hill for the job. Winston was always a better quarterback than Hill, it was just a matter of time before Sean Payton had to realize that the offense can be better with Winston.
However, even though Winston is currently the starter, Payton has been stubborn in playing Hill at quarterback, so I don’t believe Winston has a firm hold of the starting job. Whenever there is uncertainty at the most important position on the field, then there’s a chance you could have some issues to begin a season.
3. No Michael Thomas
While the Packers and Rodgers were at odds this offseason, the Saints and Michael Thomas seem to have a deteriorating relationship. Thomas suffered an ankle injury in 2020 that limited him to seven games. At the beginning of the offseason, Thomas was informed to undergo surgery so he could be ready for the 2021 season. The All-Pro wideout instead chose to try and rehab the injury, but he wasn’t communicating with the Saints.
So in the end, Thomas ended up receiving surgery late in the offseason, which will cause him to miss games to start the season. Despite Marquez Callaway flashing potential and Alvin Kamara being a tough player to contain, the Packers don’t have to concern themselves with slowing down Thomas.
2. New Orleans Has A Weakened Defensive Line
Over the course of the offseason, the Saints saw their defensive line overhauled. Besides the return of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, New Orleans now have Shy Tuttle and Albert Huggins expected to start in the interior in Week 1. While David Onyemata will serve a suspension to begin the season, the Saints lost Sheldon Rankins and Malcom Brown in free agency.
Given the new faces that New Orleans has on their defensive front, Green Bay may elect to attack them in the interior. Both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon could be busy for the Packers in Week 1.
1. Green Bay Has A New Defensive Coordinator In Joe Barry
Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator of the Packers from 2018-2020. While he did have some success in certain moments, Pettine was unable to deliver a defense that could match the production of the offense with Rodgers. Pettine’s biggest weakness is his schemes to stop the run, which did the opposite of what he intended them to do.
In Pettine’s three seasons in Green Bay, the team had the 23rd, 22nd, and 13th ranked run defense in the NFL. After moving on from Pettine this offseason, the Packers now have Joe Barry calling the defense, who has brought optimism to the defense. With Kamara being a focal point in the offense of the Saints, stopping the run is vital.
Kamara’s lone game against Pettine’s defense last season resulted in him totaling 197 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 19 touches. The arrival of Barry should help the Packers put together a gameplan that can slow down Kamara.