Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
NFL fans and pro football betting fanatics everywhere will be treated to a ‘whopper’ of a matchup on Thursday night at 8:30 PM ET when the 2011 NFL regular seasons gets underway with Aaron Rodgers and the defending Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers hosting Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in a contest pitting the last two Super Bowl winners against one another.
Thanks to this expert preview and gridiron gambling betting breakdown, NFL bettors across the globe will get the insight they’ll need in order to make a pair of successful wagers against both, the ATS and Over/Under spreads.
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Okay, with that said – and the opening kickoff for the 2011 NFL regular season just over 24 hours from getting underway – let me get down to the business at hand.
When: Thursday, Sept. 8, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Live from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI
Green Bay Packers -4
Green Bay Packers (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS, 6-10 O/U)
The Packers were one of four NFC teams that won ‘just’ 10 games last season finishing behind the NFC-best Atlanta Falcons (13-3) and 11-win Chicago Bears and Saints.
Nevertheless, the wild card Packers went on to take home the Super Bowl hardware by winning three straight playoff games on the road before taking out the perennially-powerful Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the Super Bowl.
Now, the Packers will try to become the first team to win consecutive Super Bowls since the New England Patriots pulled off the feat during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
However, the 2011 version of the Packers could be even better than last year’s title winning team, because of improved health if nothing else. The Packers will enter the 2011 regular season firing on all cylinders after seeing a number of their most vital players go down with varying injuries a year ago.
Green Bay finished with a solid 9-7 ATS mark in 2010 that included an impressive five road ATS wins and I believe they will once again find their way into the ATS win column more often than not in 2011.
The Packers finished ninth in total offense and fifth in passing, but finished just 24th in rushing. Still, NFL bettors should expect the Pack to pick up their rushing attack this coming season because of the outstanding late-season play they got from now, second-year back James Starks and the return of veteran Ryan Grant.
The Packers also have one of the game’s best quarterbacks in the multi-talented Aaron Rodgers and drafted wide receiver Randall Cobb in the second round (No. 64 overall) to give the blossoming signal-caller another target.
Green Bay will come into Thursday night’s season opener riding a nice three-game preseason winning streak that highlights what I believe will be their greatest strength – their stifling defense.
The Packers did not allow more than 21 points in any of their final three scrimmages this year after routinely shutting down their opponents a year ago by ranking second in points allowed per game (15.0). Green Bay also finished fifth in total yards and passing yards despite finishing 18th against the run.
The Packers have outstanding linebackers in Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk, a space-eating defensive tackle B.J. Raji and a ‘lockdown’ stellar defensive backfield, led by future Hall of Fame cornerback Charles Woodson.
New Orleans Saints (11-5 SU, 7-9 ATS, 8-8 O/U)
All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints took a step backwards last season from their 13-3 SU regular season mark and Super Bowl-winning campaign in 2009.
New Orleans ‘fell’ all the way to 11-5 record in 2010 but it wasn’t their regular season record that was the problem. Thanks to their own rash of injuries, the Saints became a one-dimensional team that couldn’t run the ball effectively to save their collective lives, finishing 28th in rushing last season.
However, the Saints plan on addressing their rushing issues and drafted running back Mark Ingram with the No. 28 pick in the first round to help give the team some more balance on offense, which will make the gifted Brees even more efficient in the passing game.
The Saints also added veteran running back Darren Sproles and his dual threat ability out of the backfield should also help the Saints in a big way offensively.
Like their counterparts in this season-opening matchup, the Saints have a plethora of unheralded, but talented, wide receivers that simply catch the ball consistently without all of today’s typical wideout ‘diva’ nonsense. I also like the Saints’ defensive backfield with four quality starters but believe they’re a bit thin at linebacker.
New Orleans Saints struggled to cover the NFL point spread in 2010, recording an uninspiring 7-9 ATS mark as they generally faced a lot of high NFL Odds as a favorite because of their Super Bowl run the previous season.
The Saints didn’t have a real encouraging preseason in going 2-2 SU in four games while alternating wins and losses each time out. The Saints allowed at least 27 points in each of their two preseason losses but hung a 40-spot on the Raiders in their third preseason game.
Game Prediction: First off NFL fans and betting enthusiasts, I absolutely love the mindset of Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy and I genuinely believe that the Packers will avoid the complacency that usually comes with winning a Super Bowl title.
Of course, every Super Bowl-winning head coach says the same thing going into the new season as McCarthy has. You know the old, ‘this is a new season’ and ‘last year was last year’ shtick.
However, I believe this year’s Packers team will have a real shot to win the NFC again as they are absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the New Orleans Saints certainly aren’t chopped liver – and they won’t roll over easily in this contest. Drew Brees and company can score the ball with any team in the league these days and New Orleans has a much better defense than most fans may realize despite the fact that they gave up a whopping 41 points in their shocking home playoff loss to Seattle to end their 2010 season.
The Saints may have a huge advantage in the fact that they’ve been a part of the NFL regular season opener in three of the last five years, beating Minnesota just last season in the league opener.
Drew Brees led the NFC in passing with 4,620 yards but also tossed 22 interceptions to go along with 33 TD passes but Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers moved into the company of the most elite passers in the league last season by throwing for 3,922 yards with 28 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.
New Orleans lost just two road games last season, allowing an identical 30 points in losses at Baltimore and Arizona, but the Packers lost just one home game so, clearly this will be a test of wills between two of the very best teams in the league.
Now, let’s take a look at the ATS trends surrounding this highly-anticipated matchup!
The Saints have compiled a nearly perfect 5-1 ATS mark in their last half-dozen Week 1 games but closed out the 2010 campaign on a dismal 2-5 ATS run that included an uninspiring 1-4 ATS mark in its L/5 road games.
As god as the Saints have been against the spread in their most recent regular season openers, the Packers have been even better in going 4-0 ATS in their L/4 Week 1 games while also putting together an impressive 5-1 ATS mark in their last six home games and scorching 11-4 ATS mark in their L/15 games in the month of September.
As far as the Over/Under Total is concerned, the Over is 4-1 in the Saints’ L/5 road games and 7-2-1 in their L/10 games in the month of September.
The Under is 6-1 in Green Bay’s L/7 Week 1 games, but the Over is 5-1 in Green Bay’s L/6 home games.
As far as the head-to-head matchups are concerned, the Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings between these teams while the Favorite is 4-1 ATS in the L/5 meetings overall.
If you’re looking for a pair of payday-producing picks, then I’m going to advise NFL gamblers to play the Packers to ride a sea of emotion en route to a narrow home win that barely covers the 4-point spread. I’m also going to go against the consistent O/U trends between these conference rivals by urging gridiron gamblers to play the Under.
While the Packers have scored at least 20 points in each of their last trio of preseason games, the Saints struggled mightily in scoring just 14 points on the road at Houston in their second preseason game.
In essence, I believe the Saints are still trying to find themselves after the shortened offseason while the Packers alreadly know who they are as they’re not much different from last season’s title-winning team.
Play the Packers to record the narrow home win and ATS cover while the Under plays out as well. (Prediction courtesy of Eric Williams)