While we’re killing time and watching the debut of NBC Sportstalk on Versus, here are a few things we’ll be looking for in tonight’s game.
1. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks against the blitz. New Orleans plans to stay aggressive blitzing on Thursday night, which puts an awful lot of pressure on the Saints secondary.
Green Bay’s offensive line struggled to protect in the preseason. They will be tested.
2. We’re looking forward to seeing Packers tight end Jermichael Finley back on the field. The Seahawks ate up the Saints linebackers in the playoffs last year. The Saints don’t have a great outside linebacker group.
3. Saints rooking running back Mark Ingram’s debut will be interesting to watch. Look for Sean Payton to run the ball plenty with Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles. The Packers defense is more susceptible to the run than the pass.
4. Drew Brees needs to make better decisions in big games. He didn’t catch much criticism last year despite 22 interceptions and fumbling nine times. It was a down year for Brees compared to 2007-2009.
5. Saints free agent pickups defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin could be the keys to their defense. They need Franklin to stuff the run and Rogers to push the pocket.
6. Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji could overwhelm new Saints right tackle Zach Strief and new center Olin Kreutz.
7. Player-only workouts got too much attention during the lockout. But the Packers and Saints present an interesting contrast.
No team worked together more than New Orleans. No team practiced together less than the Packers. We doubt it really mattered, but Thursday night provides an interesting litmus test.