NFL Predictions 2011: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers vs. the Saints
When Aaron Rodgers last played a meaningful football game, he finished with a stat line of three touchdowns to zero interceptions and 304 yards on 24 completions.
Rodgers managed that feat against one of the best defenses in the league—the Pittsburgh Steelers—during the biggest occasion of his career. However the one thing about the Steelers' star studded defense is that very few of the stars are on the back end.
Tracy Porter's off-season injury was somewhat of a blessing in disguise as Patrick Robinson has excelled in his second NFL preseason. There was suggestions from defensive coordinator Greg Williams that Robinson could supplant Porter as the team's starter but that won't matter in this game.
That won't matter because the Saints will likely be forced into nickel sets all night. The loss of defensive end Will Smith to suspension came only a few days after last year's other starter Alex Brown was released from the roster.
Despite the return of Ryan Grant the Packers won't sway from their tendency to rely heavily on the arm of Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers will have multi-receiver sets all night but will likely see a lot of his passes go towards the returning Jermichael Finley to take advantage of the team's size advantage. Finley is too fast for any of the Saints' linebackers and will likely be covered by Malcolm Jenkins more often than not.
Exploiting that matchup shouldn't be a problem while Rodgers will also have the advantage of using the Packers' depth at receiver to put up massive numbers in Lambeau Field. The Saints have a deep cornerback group but not as deep as the Packers' receivers.
With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones not even being part of the starting lineup it is going to be almost impossible for the Saints to contain Rodgers.
The Saints will be hoping to prevent big plays and hold the Packers to field goals rather than actually shutting down Rodgers. The former Cal product is simply surrounded by too many weapons to prevent him from having a big night, especially as the team returns home as champions for the first time.
Despite the Saints being a more than formidable opponent, Aaron Rodgers will likely be making lots of belt signs tomorrow night.
Who knows? It may be the first few of many throughout the coming season.
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