I don’t think the Packers is the 40+ point machine it showed against the Vikings and Lions defenses so far this year.
I don’t think the Saints and Drew Brees are as bad as they appeared to be on Monday night in Las Vegas.
There’s a reason I’m not taking the Packers plus the points.
But I do think this offense will be able to exploit a Saints Defense which is not quite as strong as I envisioned this offseason.
This Saints Defense ranks 15th against the pass and has played the 12th toughest schedule of pass defenses.
But the way in which they attack should mirror where the Saints Defense is weak.
And then we look at who the Saints have faced. Tom Brady’s Bucs offense in its first game, which was clearly a work in progress, and the Raiders last week who simply threw the ball to their TE over and over and over and ran the ball and won convincingly, putting up 34 points in the process.
So far this year, the Saints Defense hasn’t faced any passes with two backs on the field, but it’s the second-most used personnel grouping for the Packers (25% of passes). From 21 personnel, the Packers average a 63% success rate with 1 TD and a 102 passer rating.
The Saints have faced a lot of 11 personnel and have done about average against it. But one grouping they have struggled to defend despite facing it often is 12 personnel. On 14 passes, they’ve allowed 10.2 YPA.
Out of 12 personnel, the Packers have a 64% success rate and average 9.8 YPA.
The bottom line is the Packers can do a lot in the passing game that the Saints either haven’t defended yet or struggle to defend. The Packers are not a 11-personnel, predictable passing offense. They are extremely diverse and have seen a lot of success so far this season.
The Saints have also been burned by play action so far in 2020. Particularly play action from 11 and 12 personnel. They are allowing over 13 YPA to play action from 11 and 12 personnel.
I’ve been extremely impressed by the Packers Offense. That being said, this offense has gone up against two of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Vikings Defense is in shambles and the Lions Defense is problematic and was dealing with numerous injuries. While the Saints Defense didn’t look good on Monday night, there is no doubt they will put up the stiffest test the Packers Offense has faced to date.
Also note, Aaron Rodgers is 8-5 ATS in non-division domes since 2012, including 10-3 to the over (77%), going over an average 51.5 total by a full TD on average.
On the other side of the ball, there obviously are legitimate concerns for the Saints Offense. New Orleans wide receivers have combined for 17 receptions (30th) and for 180 yards (31st) on 27 targets (30th).
Drew Brees does not look very good. His average target depth has definitely regressed. His average depth of target (aDOT) on completions is only at 4.5 air yards, down from 5.3 last year and 6.0 in 2018. Note the NFL average is 6.0 air yards the last 3 seasons.
But the interesting note is on incompletions. On Brees incompletions in 2018, his aDOT was 11.1 air yards. It dropped to 10.3 in 2019. But so far this year, it’s only 6.5. Meaning Brees is throwing far shorter and easier passes incomplete than he’s ever done before.
On the season Brees has an expected completion rate of -8.4%. He should be completing 73.1% of his passes based on throw difficult but is only completing 64.7%. It’s the 3rd worst mark in the NFL.
This after ranking #2 in the NFL last year with 6.3%. I do not rush to jump on “this QB is done” bandwagons and I am absolutely not fading Brees laying 3 points in this game. However, I’m not backing the Saints either in what should be another entertaining primetime game. Instead, I see small value going over on the Packers team total, ideally at anything at or better than 24 points.