After DraftKings roasted me on Twitter, #STPrimeTimePicks took our first loss on Thursday, as the Jaguars never came close to covering the -3 against FitzMagic and the Dolphins. But, we’re looking to bounce back with another preview and prediction for the Sunday night game between the Packers and the Saints.
Week 3 Prime Time Picks: Packers (+143) vs Saints (-3) O/U 53 – All lines via DraftKings
The Packers (2-0) are coming off of a Week 2 win at home against the Lions, and the Saints (1-1) are looking to get back in the win column after losing to the Raiders in the first NFL game in Las Vegas. We have a great prime time matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, and this is bound to be an entertaining game.
Saints Offense Not Clicking
Without Michael Thomas in the lineup last week against the Raiders, the Saints offense looked a little lost. They did put up 24 points, but the passing game was not what it has been in previous years with Thomas playing wide receiver. Drew Brees’ stat line was decent: 26/38, 312 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 91.1 rating, but the passing game was not as efficient as we have seen in previous years. Brees’ top target was his running back Alvin Kamara, who had nine catches for 95 yards. Kamara not only had an excellent day catching passes, but running the ball as well. He ran the ball 13 times for 79 yards and 2 TD’s, averaging over six yards per carry. Very impressive stuff from Kamara. Aside from him, the Saints receiving core was pretty lackluster. Tre-Quan Smith: 5 catches for 86 yards, Emmanuel Sanders: only 1 catch for 18 yards, Deonte Harris: 3 catches for 23 yards. Smith fares to get a lot of targets, and performed well with 86 yards last week, but it is just impossible to replace the production that Michael Thomas brings to the offense. Although Kamara is a great weapon, the Saints cannot rely solely on him to produce. Other receivers will need to step up.
Michael Thomas Injury Status
Thomas has yet to return to practice since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Buccaneers in Week 1, and he has been ruled out again this week. Even if he were to play, he was for sure going to get a strong dose of Jaire Alexander, who is officially making a name for himself as one of the best cornerbacks in all of football. It will be interesting to see who Alexander will be covering with Thomas out.
Aaron Rodgers’ Excellent Start
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is off to a tremendous start to the 2020 season. He has led the Packers to a 2-0 start, and has a rating of 119.4 through two games. He has thrown 6 TD’s and zero interceptions, and has completed 67.6% of his passes. In their two games, the Packers have put up 43 and 42 points respectively, by far the best in the league. Their offense is one of only two teams to have over 1,000 yards this season, and the only other team to do so is the Jaguars who have played three games. Rodgers will look to lead the high-scoring Packers offense into the Superdome against a Saints defense that is coming off a Monday night game where they let Derek Carr throw all over the place. Carr completed over 73% of his passes, threw for 3 TD’s with no interceptions, and had a rating of 120.7. If Rodgers can mirror any of that success, it will be a long night for the Saints.
Aaron Jones’ Monster Week 2
In the Packers game against the Lions last Sunday, RB Aaron Jones was doing it all. He ran for 168 yards on just 18 carries (9.3 YPC), and scored twice. Not only was he doing a ton of damage on the ground, but through the air as well. Jones caught 4 passes for 68 yards and another touchdown. Much like Alvin Kamara for the Saints, Jones will be an integral part of the Packers offense Sunday night, and it is going to be very fun to watch these two running backs go head-to-head.
Davante Adams Doubtful
As good as the Packers offense has been, they will most likely be without WR1 Davante Adams, as he is currently listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury. Adams tied a franchise record in Week 1 with 14 catches against the Vikings. He had three catches in the first half against the Lions before his injury. The good news is that the Packers were 4-0 in games that Adams missed last season with turf toe.
The Saints have been plagued by penalties so far this season. Through two games, they have given up 248 yards in penalties, including 129 yards in their Week 2 loss against the Raiders. They will need to tighten this up against Rodgers and the Packers, as they will be sure to take advantage of any free yards.
Since Drew Brees and Sean Payton joined forces in 2006, the Saints have led the NFL in total offense six times, finished in the top five in five other seasons, and have never ranked worse than ninth. But, for the moment, New Orleans ranks 21st in total offense in 2020, while Rodgers and the Packers lead the league. The Saints just haven’t been able to move the ball efficiently without Thomas in the lineup. Alvin Kamara is sure to get his chances, and will most likely put up decent numbers. But if the Packers defense can limit the damage and make the Saints offense a little one-dimensional going through Kamara, Brees will have to step-up and find other targets, which just hasn’t worked very well so far this season. The Saints are certainly happy to be back at home, but the Packers offense has looked so good through two games that it is extremely hard to bet against them at this point. I think this game with be a close one, and it could very well come down to whoever has the ball last. In a toss-up like that, I will take the offense that has looked better up to this point. Give me the three points with Green Bay.
Title Photo: ClutchPoints