But if there’s a promising opportunity for the Packers to change the narrative and for Rodgers to chalk another stadium off his hit list, this is it, even with star receiver Davante Adams doubtful with a hamstring injury.
The Saints are coming off a short week, having traveled to play a Monday night game on the West Coast, and for the second straight game they’ll be without their top wideout, Michael Thomas, who has an ankle injury.
In general, the Saints are off to a bit of a sluggish start offensively, but that’s nothing the Packers are taking for granted, particularly some national criticism swirling that Brees is on the decline. No one in Green Bay is buying that.
“It’s just a matter of time before he gets it rolling like we’re all accustomed to,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. “You can never let your guard down because as soon as you do, he’s going to go out there and dice you and hang 45 on you.”
More crucially, the Saints have announced only 750 fans will be in attendance, mostly family and friends of team personnel, so the raucous Superdome crowds that have contributed in the past to the second-half avalanches caving in on the Packers won’t exist.
Rodgers showed in Week 1 at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium how much of a difference that can make. With not having to use the silent count in an indoor road venue, he manipulated his cadence to get the Vikings to jump offside three times, all on third down. Twice the penalties handed the Packers first downs. The other time Rodgers completed a free-play deep shot.
“He’s one of the best at it,” Payton said of Rodgers’ hard count. “Those guys will finish and he’ll look for that aggressive play down the field if he knows he’s got someone in the neutral zone.
“We’re going to get five, six, seven of those classic hard counts and he knows how to do it specifically with the right play, where he’s got a vertical route.”
Other than Adams and rookie tight end Josiah Deguara (also doubtful) on the injury front, signs look positive defensive tackle Kenny Clark can return from his groin injury, and the Packers’ offensive line appears to be getting closer to full health.
It’s far from a perfect scenario if Adams can’t play, but the stars may be aligned just enough for Green Bay this time around.