Last week, I predicted the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Green Bay Packers in week 1 of the preseason by 6 points. This prediction ended up being pretty accurate, as the 49ers would go on to beat the Packers in a tight game with a late touchdown and 2 point conversion to go up 28-21. Tonight at 8 PM EST is the Packers’ preseason home opener, and they will face the New Orleans Saints, who the Packers have been having joint practices with since Tuesday.
Moving on to the breakdown, it is always important to take a look at how teams and coaches perform in the preseason, as some teams take preseason seriously and other teams could care less. Packers’ head coach Matt Lafleur has an all-time preseason record of 2-6, and he has not won a preseason game since his first season as head coach in 2019. This is Saints’ head coach Dennis Allen’s first season as head coach, so he only has an 0-1 record in the preseason with a week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. However, Dennis Allen has been defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints since 2015 under head coach Sean Payton. In this time span, the Saints have a preseason record of 8-15. With these records in mind, it would be safe to say that both teams in this matchup do not care much for winning preseason games.
Let’s move on to things to watch out for with the Packers, who are looking for their first preseason win since 2019. Not much information is out on who will be playing for the Packers, but we can make some assumptions. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will not be suiting up for the game tonight, and no other major starters are expected to suit up tonight either. We can once again expect to see a lot of former first round pick Jordan Love. With Aaron Rodgers still starting and playing some of the best football of his career at the age of 38 years old, the Packers are running out of time to make a decision on what to do with the third year quarterback Jordan Love. Jordan Love had a mediocre game in week 1 of the preseason against San Francisco. Although he was 13/24 with 176 yards and 2 touchdowns, it is fair to say he was inconsistent as he also had 3 interceptions. Now, some of these interceptions were not entirely his fault, but Love was inconsistent, as he missed some passes but also showed some flashes of greatness. It may be biased, but I expect a bounce back game from Jordan Love. Love has all the talent, he just needs to execute. I would be shocked if he throws 3 interceptions once again. We also saw some of presumed third string quarterback Danny Etling, who surprisingly looked pretty good with his limited snaps. Etling was 6/8 for 123 yards and a touchdown, while also having 4 rushes for 18 yards. We can expect to see just a few drives for Etling, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep up the great play. Last week, I said that some receivers to look out for were rookies Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure. Doubs and Toure led the team in receptions along with wide receiver Juwann Winfree. Doubs had 3 receptions for 45 yards and an impressive touchdown, Toure had 3 receptions for 42 yards and Winfree had 3 receptions for 27 yards. Romeo Doubs has been a standout at Packers’ training camp, however, he had a few costly drops in the preseason opener. When asked about the young receivers on the Packers, Aaron Rodgers stated that they have, “got to be way more consistent. A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions.” It will be interesting to see if the young receivers can respond to these criticisms. Finally, the Packers defense looked mediocre at best against the 49ers. 49ers’ quarterback Trey Lance was able to carve up a young Packers secondary. However, the defensive line played well, constantly putting pressure on the quarterback. Defensive lineman and first round pick out of Georgia Devonte Wyatt will be making his preseason debut today, and he is likely to make some noise.
Moving on to the New Orleans Saints, the Saints were defeated 17-13 in their preseason opener in a defensive battle. Quarterback Andy Dalton was phenomenal in his only drive, completing 5/5 passes for 51 yards and a passing touchdown to running back Dwayne Washington. However, former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book received most of the snaps at quarterback, but he looked mediocre. Book went 15/22 for 121 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. Jameis Winston is confirmed to be the starter for the Saints, so he is not expected to play tonight. With that being said, we can expect to see a lot of Ian Book once again tonight. The Saints know what they have in Andy Dalton, a solid backup and veteran quarterback. However, the Saints are still looking to see what they have in a young Ian Book. No wide receiver really stepped up for the Saints in their preseason opener, however, all eyes are going to be on first round pick Chris Olave, who only had 1 reception for 4 yards in the preseason opener. Olave is an explosive route runner, and a big game from him would not be surprising. The Saints defense played pretty well against the Texans offense, holding them to 17 points. Going into the regular season, the Saints are expected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The young defenders playing tonight will have to play well if they want to be part of that scary Saints defense.
With all of that being said, it is time for a prediction. I expect a bounce back from a young Packers offense which was inconsistent in week 1 of the preseason, especially Jordan Love. I am not a huge fan of Saints’ quarterback Ian Book, and a quarterback advantage is a major advantage in preseason assuming Love can outperform Book. Both defenses should show up tonight, so a close, low scoring game is what I predict. I am 1-0 in my preseason predictions, so I hope to stay undefeated.
Give me the Green Bay Packers to beat the New Orleans Saints tonight, 21-17.