By now, most have already seen and given their opinion on the Hail Mary non-catch-that-was-called-a-catch by Golden Tate that gave the Seattle Seahawks an oft-debated 14-12 victory over the Packers on Monday night. Green Bay has vetted its frustrations through a myriad of ways the past few days and will likely look to channel that anger against the Saints.
New Orleans is also coming off a terrible loss of its own, having allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to score 21 unanswered points in the second half and overtime en route to a 27-24 victory. With a possible 0-4 start looming, look for an extremely motivated Saints crew to show up at Lambeau Field.
For that reason, here's a look at everything you need to know about Sunday's contest.
Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.
When: Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Live Streaming: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Line: Packers (-8), according to Bovada.
Over/Under: 54, according to Bovada.
What's at Stake?
For both teams, Sunday's contest can be considered nothing short of a must-win.
The Saints come into the game having lost each one of their games by one score and will look to become the first 0-3 team to make the playoffs since the Buffalo Bills in 1998. Though those odds are certainly daunting, they become nearly impossible if New Orleans loses to Green Bay. Only one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, has made the playoffs in the past 20 years after starting with an 0-4 record.
On the other side of the field, the Packers just hope to put the Seattle finish behind them and get back to a .500 record.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense have struggled mightily against touch defenses early on and should get a reprieve this Sunday against the porous Saints attack. Nonetheless, after coming into the season as a Super Bowl favorite, a 1-3 start could prove to be the death knell to those hopes.
LB David Hawthorne, Hamstring, Questionable
DL Turk McBride, Ankle, Missed Week 3
TE Tom Crabtree, Shoulder, Questionable
RB James Starks, Toe, Questionable
DB Davon House, Shoulder, Questionable
LB Jamari Lattimore, Ankle, Missed Week 3
LB Terrell Manning, Concussion, Missed Week 3
DB Sean Richardson, Hamstring, Missed Week 3
Fantasy Player to Watch: QB Aaron Rodgers
After another down performance against Seattle on Monday night, fantasy owners across the nation have slammed on the panic button with the consensus best quarterback in football.
Through three weeks, Rodgers has thrown for just 745 yards and three touchdowns, good enough for a 21st-ranked quarterback spot thus far. For owners, who likely took the Packers signal-caller no later than pick No. 4, his struggles could submarine the entire fantasy season if they continue.
This week's matchup should lead to a resurgence, as Rogers faces an anemic New Orleans defense that has allowed a whopping 34 points per game this season.
If there is any week that the Packers offense (and, as a result, Rodgers) could get out of this funk, it's this one.
On the other hand, if Rodgers continues to struggle on Sunday, you may want to treat him like Facebook stock and sell low.
What They're Saying
Though a 27-24 loss does not look bad on the final scoreboard, a quick look at the box score spells out the Saints' biggest problem this season: discipline. Ahead 24-13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, New Orleans took its feet off the gas on both sides of the ball and blew a very winnable game against Kansas City.
To demonstrate that point, The Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett spelled the Saints' failures out in plain words for all to see.
Via The Times-Picayune:
The combined result of the Saints' final 12 offensive plays: one interception, one safety, two sacks, zero completed passes, zero first downs, a total of negative-15 yards, one of the most epic collapses in franchise history and one season that will now require a miracle to resuscitate.
Since Brees and Coach Sean Payton first arrived in 2006, the Saints offense has never let the team down to this extent, over the course of five straight possessions. They were completely useless while the Saints squandered a 24-6 lead at home against a struggling opponent that entered Sunday's game with an 0-2 record, zero takeaways and just one sack.
While New Orleans deserves the brunt of the blame for its loss last week, it would be easy for the Packers to point the finger at officiating. Speaking of his players' reaction to last week's infamous Hail May call, Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said it's time to move on and use the vitriol toward officiating on the Saints.
Our players are passionate, understandably so. But it's time to start channeling that energy toward New Orleans. ... It's an educational opportunity for us as a staff to make sure we're on the same page as far as teaching, making sure our players understand. It's a different year, there's no question about it.
Packers Key Player: WR Greg Jennings
Despite the glaring focus of the Green Bay offense's struggles falls on Rodgers, it's apparent how much Jennings means to the team.
Battling a groin injury all season, the Pro Bowler has noticeably lacked any explosiveness downfield and had been limited to running shorter routes. Jennings' longest reception is just 13 yards thus far, and his 6.3 yards per catch through three weeks is less than half of his career-low total.
For the Packers to have any chance at regaining their status among the NFL's elite, they will need a marked improvement in health and play from the 29-year-old. Defenses have shifted their focus heavily in Jordy Nelson's direction, so Jennings may be seeing the most wide-open field of his career on Sunday.
His ability to break free down the field and take advantage for a big play will likely be the difference in the game's outcome.
Saints Key Player: QB Drew Brees
Without Sean Payton, the superstar signal-caller was supposed to step up as a coach-on-the-field who showed his team that it could win regardless of the coaching situation.
Well, this season has taught us that Brees is perhaps more dependent on the suspended head coach than anyone on the team. After setting seemingly every passing record in the books last season, the preseason MVP candidate has been an even bigger disappointment than his Sunday counterpart.
Brees has completed just 75-of-137 passes (54.7 percent) for 904 yards and seven touchdowns against five interceptions. What's more, those numbers would be even worse had the Saints signal-caller not excelled in garbage time in the first two weeks.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, Brees won't be getting the same reprieve as Rodgers this week. Green Bay has the league's best pass defense through three weeks, allowing 125.3 yards per game, and will come out motivated after Monday's late-game debacle.
Brees' squad cannot win without an amazing performance. You just have to wonder whether he still has that in the tank for 2012.
This game will officially finish off one of these two teams, so expect a hard-fought, high-scoring contest.
These are two experienced squads that know the stakes and will do anything and everything to come out on top. Simply put, until New Orleans proves it can make a stop, there fails to be a reason to pick them.
Look for a late drive from Rodgers to seal the deal for Green Bay.
Score Prediction: Packers 38, Saints 34
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