The New Orleans Saints will have to do without Michael Thomas for at least another week, and the result was seen last Monday against Las Vegas. But now the Green Bay Packers find themselves in a similar dilemma as they prepare to face the Saints on Sunday night on NBC. BetOnline patrons can see this encounter at 8:20 PM ET form the Superdome in New Orleans.
What we saw from Drew Brees last week was a passing attack that didn't seem to have that go-to outlet. And that much is understandable. Without Thomas, who has a high ankle sprain, the future Hall of Fame quarterback was missing some who had 149 catches last season. So he had to improvise, and it wasn't good enough to really sustain things. The main guy he targeted was Alvin Kamara, who caught nine passes out of the backfield. And Tre'Quan Smith more or less took Thomas' role, with 86 yards in receptions. But he had difficulty connecting with others, including two players who should have figured more prominently.
Emmanuel Sanders, acquired in the off-season to help take some of the pressure off Thomas, had just one catch, while Jared Cook, a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end, had two receptions for an insignificant 13 yards.
So it would seem simple: Brees has to distribute the ball differently, because after getting off to a very encouraging 10-0 lead, things went limp in the brand-new Allegiant Stadium, as the Raiders rolled to a 34-24 victory.
So the Saints obviously hope that whatever happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.
In the Sunday Night Football odds posted on this game at BetOnline, the Saints are laying points at home:
New Orleans Saints -3 (-130)
Green Bay Packers +3 (+110)
Over 52 points -108
Under 52 points -112
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Now Aaron Rodgers will have to go forward, at least for this game, without DaVante Adams, who is by far his top wide receiver, and who will likely be sitting out with a hamstring injury. Adams' importance to this offense is enormous. But it should be pointed out that Green Bay is not all about throwing the ball.
Rodgers admittedly had to adjust to Matt LaFleur coming in as head coach last year, as he wanted his quarterback to use timing plays more and improvising less. he also wanted to employ play-action. That's what he did when he was offensive coordinator with the Rams, on the way to the Super Bowl with Jared Goff.
And the Packers have clearly demonstrated an ability to achieve some balance. Aaron Jones, in fact, has more rushing yards than anyone in the league, and if you look at Green Bay's offensive output in these first two games, which has made them one of only three teams to start off the season with back-to-back 40-point efforts, it's a big part of it.
New Orleans may have a pretty good matchup against them in that regard. The Saints have a stout defensive front that is third in the league in Adjusted Line Yards, which is a good measurement of a line's ability to defend an opponent's ground game. And only the Jets and Steelers have "stuffed" the opposition more frequently (i.e., held them to no gain or a loss on a running play).
So the Saints have a chance to neutralize what the Packers have to do. And while we know that Rodgers can sometimes make wine out of water, we also know that Brees can do that too, and that Sean Payton has done a good job "bouncing back" in his head coaching career (62.5% ATS after a loss). So we are willing to take another shot with the Saints at home.
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