The Packers have the NFL’s No. 3 defense, which is No. 1 in pass defense and sacks per pass play.
Wow! Did anybody see that coming?
Offensively, the Packers are No. 25 overall, with a No. 20 pass offense that has been hampered by the league’s highest sacks-allowed total, 16.
Clearly, nobody saw that coming.
The first three weeks of the Packers’ season has produced one of the league’s most dramatic flip-flops. An offense that couldn’t be stopped last season is struggling to get going, and a defense that finished last in total yards by a rather wide margin last season is only two plays away – the two touchdowns by Seattle – from the league’s No. 1 spot through Week 3 of this season.
So what’s real? Is this the type of defense we are to expect from the Packers the remainder of this season, or is it just an early-season tease? Are the Packers going to come out of their offensive funk, or is it possible the Chiefs really did show the world how to stop the Packers, when the Chiefs shocked the world by upsetting the Packers last season?
Answers are forthcoming, beginning this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, a team with the NFL’s worst-ranked defense and an offense that, similar to the Packers’, is a lot better than its ranking.
This is a watershed game for both teams. At 0-3, the Saints have to begin their recovery now or else. The bad news for the Saints is their schedule will stiffen dramatically, and 0-4 won’t bode well for their chances to make it into the postseason.
Meanwhile, at 1-2, the Packers can put the fiasco in Seattle behind them with a win that would send the Packers into a favorable October schedule and brighten moods throughout Packernation.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Saints.
1. Run the ball—The Saints are No. 32 in run defense. The Packers need to achieve the kind of run-pass balance they enjoyed in the second half of the game in Seattle.
2. Dominate time of possession—More time on the field for the Packers offense means less time for Drew Brees and company, and the Packers offense could also use the practice.
3. Attack on defense—Aaron Kromer is having to split his time between being the Saints’ offensive line coach and the team’s interim head coach. As a result, the Saints are struggling up front. Press the issue.
4. Break their spirit—For two teams with high expectations but only one win between them, this game will be a test of wills.
5. Protect your quarterback—Hey, guys, that’s the NFL MVP for whom you’re pass-blocking. We’re talking about a very valuable commodity, and it needs to be treated as such.
6. Win the battle of the hitting—Last in the league in rushing and in stopping the rush says something.
7. Feel your fans—They are everywhere and they will be 100 percent in your support on Sunday.
8. Say hi to the officials—I’m sure they’ll say hi back.
9. Follow the lead of your coach—He’s been a pillar of strength and this team’s heartbeat since his postgame interview in Seattle.
10. Be who you are—You’re the Packers. You’re a team that was 15-1 and the toast of the league. You’re better than this.Additional coverage - Sept. 27