Packers vs. Saints: 3 key matchups to watch in Week 1

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In just two days, the Green Bay Packers will begin their 2021 season with a trip to Jacksonville for a Week 1 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

The Packers have Super Bowl aspirations, while the Saints want to get off on the right foot as they usher in a new era without quarterback Drew Brees. Jameis Winston will take over for the future Hall of Famer, and while Winston offers a strong arm, he also suffers from questionable decision-making.

Green Bay faced off against New Orleans in Week 3 of last season and came away with a 37-30 victory. Without wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers were led by a stellar performance from Allen Lazard, who hauled in six receptions for a career-high 146 yards.

On the defensive side of things, Green Bay struggled to contain Alvin Kamara, who totaled 18 touches for 197 yards on the ground and through the air. Under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, this new look Packers defense will definitely have their work cut out for them.

There will be plenty of matchups to watch for on Sunday. After a long and eventful offseason, many fans are looking forward to Aaron Rodgers defending his MVP crown. There is also a lot of uncertainty on what this defense will look like under a new scheme.

However, for now, we are focusing on specific matchups that fans will want to keep an eye on when these two teams take the field for Week 1. Let’s take a look.

Packers CB Kevin King vs. Saints WR Marquez Callaway

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising move, King returned to Green Bay on a one-year deal for the 2021 season. He is expected to start alongside Jaire Alexander as first-rounder Eric Stokes awaits his opportunity. King should get tested early and often against Callaway, who is coming off a strong preseason. The Saints receiver totaled eight catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns in a pair of exhibition games. Callaway is not the fastest pass catcher, but expect Winston to look his way early and often with King in coverage, especially downfield. After battling injuries during training camp, King needs a strong start to a season that feels like an audition.

Packers pass rush vs. Saints QB Jameis Winston

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Head coach Matt LaFleur is allowing Za’Darius Smith the next 48 hours to prove he can suit up against New Orleans. The Packers could be without their top pass rusher, who is battling a back injury that started in training camp. The Saints have a strong offensive line to protect Winston, which will give the unpredictable quarterback time to make the right decision. The best way to force Winston into mistakes is for the pass rush to pin back their ears and get after it. Rashan Gary could start on the edge in place of Smith, which would give him the chance to showcase the improvements he made this offseason. Gary is a breakout candidate on the Packers' defense, but he won’t be able to do it alone on Sunday. It will need to be a collective effort to rattle Winston.

Packers LBs vs. Saints RB Alvin Kamara

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

As noted earlier, Kamara had a huge game against Green Bay a year ago. His 139 receiving yards resulted in a new career-high and reminded everyone of just how dynamic he can be. Kamara is the most dangerous player on the Saints' offense and arguably their whole roster. He is sure to test the Packers linebackers at some point, whether it be Krys Barnes, Oren Burks, or newcomer De’Vondre Campbell. On run defense, they need to be sharp in limiting cutbacks and outside runs. However, the Packers may need to be even sharper in coverage when Kamara swings out to the flats and tries to test them over the middle.

1

1