Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints looks to get rid of the ball. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP
Despite all their issues, the New Orleans Saints are a sneaky-good NFL pick for Sunday’s season-opener versus the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, September 12, 2021 – 04:25 PM EDT at TIAA Bank Field
When is a home game not a home game? When it’s played on the road, of course. Thanks to Hurricane Ida, the New Orleans Saints had to move their 2021 season-opener to Jacksonville. As if they didn’t have enough to worry about; this is the first year since 2005 that the Saints won’t have Drew Brees under center. That can’t be good.
Yet, we recommend New Orleans as a place to pick your Week 1 NFL picks. You know what? They’re taking on the Green Bay Packers, who are laying 4.5 points at Intertops as we go to press; that’s up from 2.5 points when they were supposed to be playing at the Superdome. Home-field matters, of course, but the fact that we’re crossing the magic number 3 is critical here. And the Saints aren’t the only team in this matchup that will be inconvenienced by the change in venue.
Granted, we’ve been burned by Aaron Rodgers before. Everyone here at the ranch thought the Packers were due for a fall last year – then they went 13-3 SU and 10-6 ATS, with Rodgers winning the MVP award for the third time. That was partly smoke and mirrors, though; Green Bay’s plus-140 point differential on the season works out to a Pythagorean record of 11-5. Regression monsters will eventually feed.
There is no better time than right now. David Bakhtiari (three-time Pro Bowl linebacker) will miss six weeks due to a torn ACL. He was the league’s top pass blocker last year, according to the fine folks at Pro Football Focus. It was going be extremely difficult for Rodgers and Packers to keep their red-zone touchdown rates of 80 percent and beat NFL odds again this season. It’ll be even harder without Bakhtiari clogging up the middle.
Obviously, the Saints have even bigger problems with their offense. Jameis Winston will take over for Brees, with Taysom Hill chipping in on package plays like he did last year; Winston famously became the charter member of the 30-30 Club (33 TD passes, 30 INTs) in his fifth and last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before they kicked him to the curb and signed Tom Brady. What lessons did he take away from Brees during their short time together?
We’ll find out soon enough. FiveThirtyEight predicts Green Bay to win the game by 2.5 points. Jeff Sagarin, at USA Today, likes the Packers 2.81 points.
It’s generally hot and wet and miserable in Jacksonville right now and should remain so all week, so at least Winston (who also played at Florida State) should be more used to the weather than Rodgers. Let’s see if we can take advantage of these NFL lines in the midst of all this chaos, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
NFL Pick: Saints +4.5 (–110) at Intertops (visit our Intertops Review)
Saints +4.5 (-110)
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.
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