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Packers vs. Saints Preview: Five Things to Watch at the Superdome

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Sure it will be loud in the Superdome, but will it be difficult?

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, did you know the Saints play in a dome? And that the Saints have won a lot of games in that dome? And that the their stats are particularly good in that dome?

If this all sounds familiar, it's because that's all anyone's talked about this week leading up to the Packers and Saints game Sunday night. I get that home field advantage exists and all, but maybe it's time we chill with the whole Superdome as this edifice of doom thing. Yes the Saints have won a crap ton of games there over the years, but that's been largely a function of them just being a damn good team, not the Superdome possessing Fortress of Solitude-like powers.

Now at 2-4, the Saints look like a team that is frankly, just plain bad. They coughed up a winnable game versus Detroit last week and the two wins they have won at home in that vaunted Thunderdome? Those were against Tampa and Minnesota - two of the league's biggest dumpster fires. Of course, that doesn't mean the Packers are guaranteed anything, but if the building you play in is your team's only real advantage, it's hard to think the Packers lose this one.

Either way, here are 5 things to watch this Sunday:

Drew Brees

Who really knows what to make of Drew Brees anymore? He's still among the league's elite, but his play this season has at least hinted at a drop off. He's ranked just 17th in passer rating and his 11 touchdowns are nearly equaled by 7 picks - including an ugly 3 interception game against Tampa. The Packers meanwhile, have pushed most their defensive chips toward the passing game, meaning if the Saints want to keep pace, they'll likely have to do it through the air. Brees is still plenty capable of shredding the best of defenses, but against a good secondary with a newfound sense of confidence, he could find life a little more difficult.

Blitzes all day long

The Saints love to bring pressure and while it's natural to feel concern at the prospect of them throwing the kitchen sink at the Packers, it's important to remember that the Saints are coached by this friggin' guy:


And the Packers are quarterbacked by this guy:


Of course, just one missed block could ruin the Packers day in a hurry, but Rodgers has historically owned defenses that blitz heavy - including Rob Ryan's Cleveland squad in '09 to the tune of a 155.4 passer rating. This year, the Saints rank 7th in the league in blitz frequency at just under 35%, meaning the Packers offensive line will have to be on their toes.

The smell of desperation

The Saints play in what is essentially a 4-team clown car in the NFC South, so even at 2-4, they're still just 1.5 games out of first place. Still, dropping to 2-5 would severely put a damper on their playoff prospects, meaning they'll likely dust off any trickery needed to win this one. We know Rob Ryan isn't afraid to gamble, but neither is Sean Payton. So while this isn't exactly a must-win game (yet) for the Saints, expect all things to be on the table including onside kicks, fake punts, maybe a flea flicker, or just Rob Ryan going shirtless in an effort to blind Aaron Rodgers.

Time of possession

I'm not a big believer in there being a ‘formula' to beat certain teams, but if there's one way to give the Packers trouble, it's to limit their offensive opportunities. Typically that would be best accomplished by running the ball, but the Saints (despite averaging a healthy 4.9 yards per carry) only run the ball 35% of the time. When you have Drew Brees as your quarterback, it makes sense that you'd rely more heavily on his arm, but against the Packers - a team that has shown virtually zero interest in stopping opposing running backs - that may very well change.

Defensive swagger

Remember not too long ago when the Packers were getting the brakes beat off their defense and everyone (including me) was shouting to the skies about how incredibly bad they looked? What a difference a few weeks makes. This may not have a direct correlation to them winning per se, but the Packers confidence on defense has been fascinating to witness. What started out as a seemingly broken, miscast bunch of parts has now become a cohesive machine - forcing turnovers, jawing at wide receivers, swarming to the ball, and carrying themselves like a defense that expects to be making plays. Because of that, I think the Saints home win streak comes to a sudden, and sobering halt.

I have it Packers: 35, Saints: 20.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

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