Packers And Saints Meet Amid Official Drama

By: Michael Robinson | Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Sunday matchup between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints will have a boost of integrity with the locked-out officials back on the field.

The Don Best NFL odds screen has Green Bay as 7½-point favorites with a total of 53½-54. Lambeau Field is the location for the 4:25 p.m. (ET) telecast on FOX.

The Packers (1-2 straight up and against the spread) have already lost more regular season games than all of last year (1). They could live with the opening 30-22 home loss against San Francisco as they were outplayed, but the 14-12 loss at Seattle last week will live in infamy in the annuals of NFL history.

Coach Mike McCarthy’s team lost on a final Hail Mary when it was ruled that receiver Golden Tate had simultaneous possession with cornerback M.D. Jennings. It was a horrible call that sparked national scorn and led to a deal being reached with the real officials.  It would have been ugly if the replacement refs showed their faces in Lambeau.

The Packers need to put that loss behind them and play the solid game they are capable of. That was on display two weeks ago with a 23-10 home win over Chicago as 5-point favorites. The defense really came up big with four INTs off Jay Cutler and will look to force Drew Brees (five picks this year) into mistakes this week.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense are still not clicking with the 19 PPG way down from the league-leading 35 PPG last year. Rodgers’ 87 rating is also down from last season (122.5), although the running game could get a boost with James Starks (toe) probable. Cedric Benson (3.1 yards per carry) has been the main back.

Green Bay’s anger could turn into a good thing for its backers, going 6-0 ATS in its last six games following a SU loss.

The ‘under’ is 2-1 for Green Bay this year. The Chicago game was the first ‘under’ at Lambeau in eight tries.

New Orleans (0-3 SU and ATS) knows all about ugly starts to this season. The whole bountygate has left a stench on the franchise with the loss of head coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt the biggest reasons for the reversal of fortunes. Interim coach Aaron Kromer is now openly admitting the offseason was a distraction.

Payton was also the play caller, one of the best in the league. The offensive averages of 377.3 YPG and 27.7 PPG are both top-10, but way down from the 467.1 YPG (ranked first) and 34.2 PPG (second) last year. The Saints are averaging a healthy 5.0 per carry rushing, but have just 56 total attempts. More balance is needed to take pressure off Brees.

New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo knew he had a tough task replacing the disgraced Gregg Williams, but couldn’t imagine it would be this bad. The 102 total points allowed to Washington, Carolina and Kansas City has them tied-for-30th in scoring defense.

The ‘over’ is 7-1 in New Orleans’ last eight games (2-1 this year).

These teams kicked off the 2011 season with then defending champ Green Bay winning 42-34 as 4½-point home favorites. The home team is 4-1 SU and ATS in the last five matchups overall.

The ‘over’ is 6-0 in the last six meetings between the teams.

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