GREEN BAY—It was this reporter’s first game covering his new team. What a game it was.
The Packers were coming off a Super Bowl win. The Saints were coming off a playoff loss that would be franchise-changing. The two teams met in the 2011 NFL Kickoff Game in what many thought would be a preview of that year’s NFC title game. Neither team would get there, but this was certainly a game worthy of its hype.
It was a game of wild offense. The two teams combined for 51 first downs, 876 yards of offense, 76 points, a 108-yard kickoff return and a 72-yard punt return, but the game was won by the defense with a goal-line stand.
“This is nuts,” the reporter thought to himself.
Hey, for a guy that cut his teeth on the run-the-ball Steelers and a Jaguars team that was struggling to score any points when the reporter left Jacksonville for Green Bay, this was football as he had never seen it previously. When do the dancers arrive?
Well, four years later, here we are, again. The Packers and Saints will play on prime-time TV this Sunday night in a game most expect to resemble the classic the two teams played in 2011. It’s gonna be a shootout, everyone is saying.
Hmmm. You can’t help but wonder what the Packers defense thinks about that.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Saints.
1. Run the ball – Don’t be fooled by the Saints’ 2-4 record. They have the No. 2 pass offense and No. 2 overall offense. This is still an offensive machine. If they have the ball longer than you have the ball, that’s bad.
2. Attack early – That’s become the Packers’ identity.
3. Empty your bag – Dom Capers finally has the talent he needs to do what he can do. Let it rip.
4. Win third down – The Packers are No. 6 in third-down conversions; the Saints defense is No. 26.
5. Put your hands up – Drew Brees is a short quarterback playing in a tall league.
6. Make it a real homecoming – Make this Eddie Lacy’s finest hour. Feature him.
7. Love the dome – The Packers are a dome team. It’s football built for an up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
8. Stop the run – That’s what’s triggered the Packers defense’s rise.
9. Feel the bye – It feels a lot better coming off a win.
10. Win special teams – Micah Hyde and Randall Cobb have come close to breaking one big. Make this the week.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - OCT. 23