Ladies and gents, it is finally here. Home football at Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The 1-1 Green Bay Packers will host the 2-0 New Orleans Saints in an early test for the 4th year quarterback Jordan Love. He will face one of the NFL's best pass rush units, one of the best DB's in Marshon Lattimore, and may be without both his All-Pro left tackle and left guard.
So, what does this matchup look like, and how does Jordan Love go punch for punch with the veteran Derek Carr?
Thankfully for the Packers, Matt LaFleur has been putting on a play calling clinic so far through two weeks. After two games, LaFleur has produced the most open routes for his receivers of any coach in the NFL, and it isn't even close. While some of that is due to some incredible youth and speed on the offense, LaFleur and Love are doing an amazing job reading defenses and getting their guys open, period.
So what has Love done with these wide open looks? Produce. Love has the highest QB rating in the league, is tied with Kirk Cousins for the most touchdown passes with six, and is second in the NFL in yards per pass completed.
To put Love's hot start in some historical context, take a look at his first two games as starting QB compared to his Packers' dad and grandad.
Yes, two games is only two games, just like the preseason is only the preseason. But Love has been efficient, decisive, and has looked the part. Dare I say, he has been an upgrade from the 2022 version of Aaron Rodgers.
But, I digress. How does Love matchup to the Saints? New Orleans is going to be without both of their starting safeties after Marcus Maye was suspended this week. One of the only "issues" for Love and LaFleur has been the big play, AKA connecting on the deep ball.
Thankfully, with some weakness in the Saints' secondary, Green Bay will be even more happy to see the return of Christian Watson. As I reported yesterday, the Packers are hopeful to see Watson make his season debut on Sunday after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. Watson was the dynamic catalyst to the Packers' offense in 2022, and his presence has been missed in 2023. Bringing the second year receiver into the lineup will be paramount to stretching the Saints defense thin on Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers are not worried about the Saints offense. Alvin Kamara is still suspended, friendly face Jamaal Williams is out for an extended period of time, and Michael Thomas does not look like himself.
Derek Carr has been playing good football, but the Packers have pieces across the board to match up. Green Bay has posted the highest pressure rate of any pass rush in the NFL in 2023, and they are not bound to stop now. Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith and Lukas Van Ness pose a large threat to a Saints offense that has been rolling through two weeks. The Saints are a good football team, but where New Orleans is good, Green Bay is better.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints, 24. Green Bay Packers, 31