It’s been dubbed a preview of the NFC championship game. The defending champions, the Green Bay Packers, are going up against the previous champions, the New Orleans Saints. Both teams going into the season among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl, and you can see why. With two of the top 5 quarterbacks going against each other, each has had to forge their own path to get to where they are: Aaron Rodgers, the man that year after year continues to fill the ever diminishing shoes of the ghost Brett Favre; and Drew Brees, the man who is building a legacy in a town ripped apart by hurricane Katrina only six years ago; and now, they face off against each other..
Matchups to watch out for:
Jermichael Finley V Roman Harper
Harper has struggled covering bigger and quicker WRs when matched up against him, but Finley is one of a kind TE, whose season was cut short last year after sustaining an injury in week 4. He was primed to the elite at his position, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on week 1. Can Harper handle the speed and size of Finley? Look to Rodgers to target Harper early in this game.
Packers O-Line V Saints D-Line
How well can this skilled Green Bay Packers offensive line handle such a talented Saints front four? The Packers offensive line has been shaky in preseason, however they remain serviceable. It must be said though, that with Greg Williams at the helm of New Orleans’ defense, a large amount of pressure can be expected in order to offset the Packer’s brutality at the line of scrimmage. The Green Bay rushing load, this season being shared by Ryan Grant and James Starks, may come up against problems, especially now that the Saints have acquired big run stuffers in Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rodgers.
Rodgers V Brees
Who comes out on top between the top two elite QBs, who can handle the pressure on national spotlight? Both have faced their own adversity, and come out of the other side, proving their worth by winning a Super Bowl. Both go against elite defences in training, so it will be interesting to see who prevails, with much resting on each offensive co-ordinator.
Prediction: Expect this to be a close encounter, but, if like many pundits, you think it will be a high scoring game, you may wind up disappointed. Each team possess a defensive guru in Dom Capers and Gregg Williams, both of whom like to bring the blitz and put pressure on QB, and force mistakes. However, with two clever QBs in Rodgers and Brees, and each team having weapons at the receiver and TE positions; it may come down to which DC can outwit the other. Defensively, I’m going to give it to the Packers, who have the slight edge in the secondary. All in all, Green Bay will come out on top playing at home, on opening night.
Projected Score: 28-24.