The New Orleans Saints escaped out of North Carolina with a 20-17 win over a divisional foe in the Panthers on Monday night.
Next up for the Black and Gold, they’ll travel up to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the Packers on a short week. This will be the first time the Saints have seen first-year starter Jordan Love under center for the cheeseheads as the previous matchups featured Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley as their starting quarterbacks.
Jordan Love will make his third career start and in his first two games this season, he’s tossed six touchdowns compared to zero turnovers. His receiver room is a young group with Samori Toure being their oldest at 25 years old. They will be tested by a Saints secondary led by Marshon Lattimore, Tyrann Mathieu, and Alontae Taylor.
FILLING IN AT OPEN SPOTS
Marcus Maye has been suspended by the NFL for the next three games due to the substance abuse policy. With that, there’s a big hole to fill at safety alongside Mathieu.
There are a couple of options to take his place in the meantime such as Lonnie Johnson Jr. who spent the majority of his career with the Houston Texans and played for the Titans last year. Now in his fifth season, Johnson has recorded 185 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defensed. The former Kentucky Wildcat has the versatility to play in the slot at nickel corner and has experience at the safety position.
Rookie Jordan Howden is the other option who could get more playing time in Maye’s absence. During training camp and the preseason, Howden was lining up everywhere at different positions and even spent some time with the first-team defense to build chemistry. In his five years at Minnesota, the former Golden Gopher racked up 240 tackles, 20 passes defensed, and four interceptions.
New Orleans finds themselves thin at running back again with Alvin Kamara being suspended for one more game and Jamaal Williams is questionable with a hamstring injury that he suffered in Monday night’s win over the Panthers.
QB/TE/RB Taysom Hill is the team’s leading rusher and Tony Jones Jr. was elevated from the practice squad right before the last game and scored both touchdowns for the Saints. Jones was signed to the 53-man roster early in the week and rookie Kendre Miller is expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday after a hamstring injury has held him out the last two weeks.
On Green Bay’s side, Aaron Jones is their number-one back and is starting to practice again after missing last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a hamstring injury of his own. Jones is also their leading receiver with 86 yards on two catches while AJ Dillon is their rushing yard leader with 74 yards on 28 carries. 37 of the Packers’ 53 rush attempts have come from Jones and Dillon with the next closest being six carries for 23 yards coming from third-string running back Patrick Taylor.
OFFENSIVE LINE GETTING CHALLENGED
In these first two games for New Orleans, one group that has stood out in a bad way is their offensive line. As a unit, they’ve given up eight sacks, four in each game. Left Tackle Trevor Penning will make his fourth start in this game, but he isn’t the only one that has struggled and allowed the quarterback to be hit. Left Guard James Hurst and center Erik McCoy have been bullied by players like Jeffery Simmons, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Arden Key.
On Sunday, they’ll face a front seven that’s sacked the quarterback five times. Defensive Tackle Devonte Wyatt is the sack leader at one and a half and two tackles for loss. Kenny Clark, Karl Brooks, and Lukas Van Ness all have one sack while Rashan Gary has the other half sack. As a team, the Packers have nine tackles for loss and have the 10th-best pass rush rating in the league according to profootballfocus.com
CAN NOLA RECEIVERS STEP UP
Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Rashid Shaheed have been a big three early on in the season. Between the three pass catchers, they’ve caught 35 out of Derek Carr’s 44 completions for 466 yards and his lone touchdown pass. The 466 is good for 87 percent of Carr’s passing yards after two games played. Thomas presents that big body X-receiver that can make the catches at the short and intermediate parts of the field on the outside. Olave and Shaheed present speed and the ability to be threats downfield with Shaheed being an extra weapon as a returner.
The big three will be challenged on Sunday as they face a good secondary for Green Bay. Jaire Alexander is the headliner in that room being their number one lockdown cornerback. After two weeks, Alexander has recorded eight tackles and two passes defensed on plays that the opposing teams go to his side. During his first five years, Alexander has intercepted 10 passes with five coming in the 2022 season. Darnell Savage is Green Bay’s notable safety who is good at defending the pass with 31 passes defensed in his short career and nine interceptions himself.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Hamstring, Out
Paulson Adebo, CB, Hamstring, Questionable
Foster Moreau, TE, Ankle, Doubtful
Taysom Hill, QB, Knee, Probable
Kendre Miller, RB, Hamstring, Probable
Ugo Amadi, S, Knee, Questionable
Aaron Jones, RB, Hamstring, Questionable
Jaire Alexander, CB, Back, Questionable
David Bakhtiari, LT, NIR-Rest/Knee, Questionable
Christian Watson, WR, Hamstring, Questionable
Elgton Jenkins G/T, Knee, Out
Rashan Gary, LB, Knee, Questionable
Lukas Van Ness, LB, Elbow, Questionable
Zayne Anderson, S, Hamstring, Out
Daniel Whelan, P, Finger, Probable
Derek Carr: 44-69, 533 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Taysom Hill: 12 carries, 79 yards
Chris Olave: 14 catches, 198 yards
Carl Granderson: 2.5 sacks
Demario Davis: 17 tackles (13 solo), 2 TFL
Blake Grupe: 5-of-5 field goal, Long of 52
Jordan Love: 29-52, 396 yards, 6 TD
AJ Dillon: 28 carries, 74 yards
Aaron Jones: 2 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD
Devonte Wyatt: 1.5 sacks
De’Vondre Campbell: 21 tackles (11 solo)
Anders Carlson: 2-of-2 field goals, Long of 52
The game between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers will be Sunday, September 24th with kickoff at Lambeau Field being scheduled at noon.