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The winners of the last 2 Super Bowls square off tonight to kick-off the NFL season in style.
The energy inside Lambeau field will be electric – the Lombardi trophy is home and you can bet the “Cheese Heads” have no plans of parting with it.
Packers Offense vs. Saints Defense
No quarterback in the league is hotter then Aaron Rogers is right now. Adversely, the Saints defense had an extended off-season to sulk over their early playoff exit at the hands of the Seahawks. In that surprise defeat, the defense was exposed – namely the Saints starting strong safety Roman Harper. Harper was caught flat footed and out of position – normally a sound tackler, Harper was squashed like a bug against Marshawn Lynch’s visor.
Look for a healthy Jermichael Finley to be very involved tonight. The Packer’s tight-end with wide receiver ball skills and speed will mainly be matched up against a safety, either the aforementioned Harper or the converted corner-now safety Michael Jenkins. While Jenkins has better ball skills and speed – both are mismatched. Aaron Rogers spreads the field with 5 wide receivers; with a big, consistent target down the middle the opposition is left to pick their poison: pinch out to the sidelines and stop the outside routes or huddle in the center and clog the middle of the field.
For most of last season a running game in Green Bay was as non-existent as Brett Favre’s memory. All that changed in the playoffs – a young back by the name of James Starks stepped into the line-up and gave the ‘Pack’ a spark. If Green Bay can run the ball even slightly effectively and keep the defense honest, Aaron Rogers with his mobility and arm strength will use play action to rip off some huge gains.
Advantage: Green Bay’s O
Saints Offense vs. Packers Defense
The Saints offense is nearly a mirror image of Green Bay’s offense; the Saints employ more screen passes then Green Bay does. Normally Reggie Bush was on the receiving end of those screens – Bush is now in Miami and the ‘Lightning Bolt’ Darren Sproles has taken his place as the 3rd down back. Sproles has just as much speed as Bush but he’s an improvement due to his better vision and he allows fewer runs to end in a loss. The Saints will use these screen passes to keep Clay Mathews, last years Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, from teeing off on quarterback Drew Brees. The Packers are extremely well coached on defense so I expect Mathews to stay at home, contain and not get sucked in by the screen pass – besides, the Packers are great at creating pressure and don’t need to rely solely on their outside linebackers to bring the heat.
Mouth piece Jeremy Shockey has been shipped out and second year tight end Jimmy Graham has taken over as the starter. The Saints are extremely high on Graham – he’s smart, has good hands and is good at finding soft spots in zone coverage.
The Packers defensive backs, led by future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, are very capable of matching up with the Saints receivers. Marques Colston is very tall but Packers free safety Nick Collins is good enough to offer help over the top and still keep an eye on the tight end.
Advantage: Green Bay’s D
This is really a toss up BUT I believe the Packers have a rookie returning kicks – if the Saints put the electric Sproles back to return kicks, the advantage goes to New Orleans.
Advantage: Saints Special Teams
I’m so excited for the season to start that I could piss myself.
Prediction: Packers win!