Saints vs. Packers Thursday Night: Can New Orleans Begin Another Title Run?

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 27:  Patrick Robinson #34 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the San Diego Chargers at the Louisiana Superdome on August 27, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints travel to Wisconsin to face off against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night in a matchup of the last two Super Bowl champions.

Since 2004, the opening game of the season has always been a homecoming for the reigning Super Bowl champions. During that time no team has ever lost coming off of a Super Bowl victory.

No side has ever faced off against such a formidable foe as the Saints, however, during that time. The closest any team has come to overturning the reigning champions was the Tennessee Titans who lost out to the Steelers in 2008 after a field goal in overtime.

However, the Saints are not yet in the best shape to turn that statistic around. With Marques Colston and Tracy Porter available but coming off a preseason hindered by injuries, they may not be 100 percent, while Will Smith will miss the game through a suspension that the team only learned about last week.

This means that the Saints could struggle in the preseason opener as you need to be firing on all cylinders to beat the Packers. However, it does not mean that this cannot be the start to a Super Bowl season in New Orleans.

An offseason that included two first-round draft picks in Mark Ingram and Cameron Jordan as well as impressive signs from last year's first-rounder Patrick Robinson, has put the Saints in place to win the NFC.

With Olin Kreutz and Darren Sproles coming in through free agency, the offense should be more balanced than ever before. Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rodgers will ad some beef to the soft spot of the defense last year at defensive tackle while Martez Wilson provides some versatility to the team's group of linebackers.

The Saints are playing in the toughest division in football in the AFC South but are the most proven of the four teams. They have very few holes and no glaring ones once Will Smith returns from suspension.

With Greg Williams controlling the defense and Sean Payton running the offense, there is no reason for the Saints not to turn one of the most talented rosters in the league into a Super Bowl team once again.

Repeating as champions is never easy and the team were unlucky last year as they never really got a fair look in because of injuries. Obviously they were exposed in the playoffs and the imagine of Marshawn Lynch bursting through the defense is probably engraved on the back of all fans' pupils right now but once the season really gets going there will be no reason to remember last year.

This year will be more like the year before as the Saints march towards Indianapolis in February.