New Orleans Saints (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, September 30/4:25pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: N.O. +7.5/GB -7.5
Over/Under Total: 54
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No matter what the NFL does or doesnt do to restore integrity to the officiating of the 2012 season, the fact remains that the games will be played and one of the best matchups comes in the second wave on Sunday as the New Orleans Saints travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. Both of these teams were seen as candidates to go deep into the playoffs but have combined for just one win through three weeks and both are literally fighting to keep their seasons on track. The Saints have returned their typically strong offense but have been undone by what appears to be the worst defense in the league and the Packers have seen the opposite scenario as their defense has risen to the top of the ranks while their high powered offense has struggled to put up points. That makes for an interesting match on paper and its always entertaining when good teams are backed against a wall this early in the season.
There is a little line discrepancy at the online betting sites in the early going as the Packers opened as a 7.5 point favorite but you can find the Pack as a 9 point fav at 5Dimes. New Orleans is on the money line at + 275 with Green Bay at -350 and the over/under total for the game is 54.
It is tough to imagine an 0-4 start to the Saints season but that is exactly what they are facing if they cannot solidify a defense that is giving up a league worst 477 yards per game. Teams that cannot stop the run typically do not win and New Orleans is giving up over 200 yards per game to opposing rushers. The Saints D might get a bit of a break as Green Bay is a pass first team and has not run with consistency but Cedric Benson has provided a legitimate option and the Packers offensive coaches are integrating him more with each week.
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We all saw the most surreal ending to a game last Monday as the Packers came out on the losing end of what can only be called one of the worst officiating decisions in NFL history. Aside from the actual call, Green Bay should shoulder a lot of responsibility for being in that situation and the short comings that have led to three sub-par performances look to be persistent. For all the talent on the offensive side of the ball, the Packers have managed just 19 points per game and barely crack 300 yards of total offense on average. Aaron Rodgers has missed throws that he has routinely hit and seems to be under consistent duress as his offensive line is not blocking anyone.
These two teams faced off in the NFL opener last year with Green Bay coming out on top by a 42-34 margin although Drew Brees did have the Saints on the doorstep of what would have been a chance to tie the game with a two point conversion. Brees threw for 419 yards and three scores in that game but it wasnt enough as Rodgers matched his three TD throws. That game saw 84 total passing attempts by both teams and I wouldnt be surprised if that number is eclipsed as both will look to get out early and get an upper hand that they have rarely secured in their respective games so far.
The Packer defense looks to be the best unit on the field come Sunday and is led by Clay Matthews and his six sacks but it will be the New Orleans defense that will determine this games outcome. The book seems to be out on how to at least slow Rodgers and Co. so if the Saints can mimic the success of some of these other teams, Drew Brees can then go to work without the pressure of playing from behind. Darren Sproles will be a factor as the speedy back will be a tough cover for the Green Bay linebackers and Sproles caught seven balls for 75 yards in the 2011 meeting. The New Orleans offense is clearly the best that the Packers have faced to this point and Brees should find a way to exploit the Jimmy Graham matchup even if Charles Woodson draws that assignment.
The Saints arent the same outside of the speedy turf at the Dome and have just one win against the spread in their last five games on grass while the Packers have been dominant at Lambeau with 18 ATS wins in their last 26 games at home. Nine points seems almost unreal as the Saints offense is putting up nearly 28 points per game. Is the Packer offense going to wake up enough to score the 30-35 points it would take to cover a nine-point spread? Absolutely! The Saints might have the worst secondary in the NFL right now and they’re going to get carved, sliced and diced on Sunday in what I’m anticipating to be a blowout that will have people finally realizing that this team is the Aints without brilliant heac coach Sean Peyton at the helm.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay Packers minus the points.
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