Saints vs. Packers: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

Sep 24, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after a Packers touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Coming off one of the most controversial losses in NFL history, the Green Bay Packers will look for a vital home win against a floundering New Orleans Saints team on Sunday.

While it's wasted breath to harp on the Golden Tate Hail Mary catch (or as it's known to fans of the remaining 31 franchises, "the thing that brought the refs back"), there are real playoff implications that could hurt the Packers going forward. Now at 1-2, they absolutely cannot afford another loss against an NFC team.

On the other side of the field, the Saints are 0-3 and have no one but themselves to blame after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 last week. New Orleans held an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter and failed to make anything happen offensively or defensively as the Chiefs came from behind to stun the Saints.

With the bitter taste of avoidable Week 3 losses in their mouths, both teams will come out this week desperate to get back in the win column. For that reason, here's everything you need to know about Sunday's contest.

When: Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4:25 p.m. ET

Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.

Watch: Fox

Live Streaming: NFL Sunday Ticket

Spread: Packers -8 (Bovada)

Considering how badly both of these teams need a win on Sunday, I cannot see a scenario in which the Packers cover this spread.

While the Saints have a myriad of problems and seem listless without Sean Payton, Drew Brees is still enough of a leader to get his guys motivated against the Packers.

The expectations have been lowered mightily for both teams, but there is too much talent here for either side to go down without a fight.

Look for a high-scoring close game that comes down to the final drive.

Over/Under: 53.5 (Bovada)

Any time these two teams play each other, you take the over and thank the scheduling gods for granting you free money.

Granted, the Saints' early-game offensive struggles, and the Packers' ascent atop the pass defense rankings make things a little dicier than usual. 

Nevertheless, these are two playoff-tested, veteran squads that know how to play each other and should have no problem getting near the 30-point mark.

Expect fantasy points to be boundless (unless you own either team's defense) on Sunday.

Saints Injury Report (via CBS Sports)

LB Jonathan Casillas, Neck, Out

LB David Hawthorne, Hamstring, Out

DE Turk McBride, Ankle, Out

Packers Injury Report (via CBS Sports)

OT Bryan Bulaga, Knee, Probable

TE Tom Crabtree, Shoulder, Probable

CB Davon House, Shoulder, Questionable

WR Greg Jennings, Groin, Probable

LB Jamari Lattimore, Ankle, Probable

S Sean Richardson, Hamstring, Out

RB James Starks, Toe, Out

DE Jerel Worthy, Shoulder, Probable

Big Fantasy Plays

Packers: WR Greg Jennings

For the Green Bay offense to break out of its slump, it will need a huge performance from Jennings on Sunday.

Much of the team's passing woes come from the Pro Bowler's inability to break free for big gains thus far. Hampered by a nagging groin injury, Jennings has just 69 yards receiving on the season on 11 receptions. What's more, his catches are just at or above the 10-yard mark and none longer than 13 yards.

That trend will have to break on Sunday if (as expected) this game turns into a high-scoring affair. With the groin ostensibly feeling better this week than a week ago, look for the Packers to try to open up the field with Jennings on some deeper patterns. 

Saints: TE Jimmy Graham

Coming off a game where he grabbed just four passes for 16 yards, the Saints will undoubtedly try to feed their superstar tight end early and often this week.

The Saints will need a huge aerial game, and with the team struggling to make any downfield headway, it's up to Graham to open the outside for the receivers.

When taking into account his status as a late first-rounder or early second-rounder, fantasy teams will flounder if he puts up numbers similar to last week (even though Graham did score a touchdown).

Look for a return to the status quo for the NFL's best tight end on Sunday. 

Key to Saints Win: Drew Brees Must Regain Form

After one of the best regular seasons in NFL history for a quarterback, Brees has floundered so far this season.

The Saints signal-caller has completed just 54.7 percent of his throws, down nearly 17 percent from his NFL record 71.2 percentage in 2011. Obviously struggling with accuracy, Brees has also thrown five interceptions already this season after only throwing 14 a year ago.

Whether it's his inability to cope without Payton calling the plays or simply an early-season case of back luck, Brees needs to rectify his woes immediately for New Orleans to have any chance at the postseason.

It's highly unlikely that the defense even reaches mediocrity this season. That means the onus will be on Brees to revive the team's high-powered passing attack and outscore the opposition. 

Being unable to do so may result in an even worse season than even the biggest pessimist thought in the preseason. 

Key to Packers Win: Protect Aaron Rodgers

Though the Green Bay offensive line has been a weak spot for a long time, it was appalling to see Rodgers go down for eight sacks in the first half against the Seahawks on Monday.

If you are searching for a reason the Packers have failed to live up to their preseason billing offensively, look no further than the porous blocking.

Thus far, Rodgers has just 745 yards and three touchdowns a year, despite completing 67.8 percent of his passes. Those 6.48 yards per attempt signal a massive downshift in Green Bay offensive aggression after Rodgers had a 9.25 rate last season.

Vast improvement is needed in pass protection to allow Rodgers the necessary time to see down the field and for receivers' routes to develop.


With the loser of this contest likely eliminated from the playoffs at the quarter-season mark, both teams will come out at their absolute optimum potential on Sunday.

Brees and Rodgers will recapture their 2011 mojo and the ball will seemingly be moved downfield in the blink of an eye.

Nevertheless, close games come down to coaching and that advantage obviously goes Green Bay's way.

It will be close, but Green Bay will prevail.

Final Score Prediction: Packers 38, Saints 34


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