In the pivotal match-up between the host New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, only one true match-up will determine the outcome so clearly for each team in my opinion.
The reason why the Packers secondary corp. will win the game for Green Bay is simple in principal yet far from ideal. They have the responsibility to stop the NFL’s leading offense (411.5 yards per game), and a lethal passing attack from New Orleans on turf, on the road, and on prime time football. The Packers will prevail if they can dominate this situation and control the receiver.
The Packers bring several weapons of their own to the big match. How well can the league interception leading Packers’secondary of Woodson (five INTs, two TDs), Harris, Collins (five INTs, three TDs) and Bigby (one INT) match up against the number one passing offense?
The outcome of the game falls on the shoulders of the determined secondary to minimize Drew Brees & Co. who average over 319 yards a game.
When the Saints drop back to pass, Brees has a compliment of talented receivers streaking down field. In three wide out formations, the Packers can counter the threats with the stellar Aaron Rouse (two INTs, one TD), and Tramon Williams (four INTS) who can handle the deep threats.
However this strategy exposes the coverage skills of the two remaining linebackers, either Poppinga or Chillar (maybe Hawk), into pass defense on a healthy Shockey and Bush. This is going to occur in critical third down situations that Green Bay cannot afford to allow completions. The fact that Brees has the highest passer rating (120.5) in third down situations this year does not bode well for me.
What about the powerful and fourth ranked Packers scoring offense? Will they be the deciding factor this week playing in the comfort of a dome? I think not, based upon two reasons.
First, the coaching staff this year has yet to receive consistent play from the team all season. They are coached poorly and look terrible one week and then the next week play like the NFC Division runner’s up and Coach of the Week team they are.
More importantly the Packers have not won back to back games since October 19 against Indy and Seattle. This lack of rhythm is realized in the quality of their play from week to week. Offensively they play terrible—down in Minnesota and way up to near perfection at home against Chicago.
This pattern is more apparent on the offensive side as it repeats itself again and again. Before the Bears game, the Packers offense hadn’t scored more than 20 points since Oct. 12. After putting up 20 against the Colts, the production has steadily declined to score 16 at Tennessee and only 13 in Minnesota.
Because the offense has devolved into a ghost of its former scoring machine, the Packers secondary will not only need to contain the passing attack of the Saints but also put up seven if not more points on the scoreboard in order for Green Bay to have a serious chance at victory against a motivated opponent.