Saints vs. Packers: 3 Key Matchups To Watch For In Week 3

Jordan Love, Rashan Gary, Derek Carr, Marshon Lattimore, Packers
Packers Coverage, NFL Analysis Network

The Green Bay Packers are returning home to Lambeau Field for their 2023 home opener in Week 3. They will be hosting the upstart New Orleans Saints, who are 2-0 on the season and looking to cement their status atop the NFC.

This will be a good measuring stick game for the Packers who have put together one dominant game and one sloppy game. After blowing out the Chicago Bears in Week 1, Green Bay let a victory slip through their fingers in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Saints have gotten off to a strong start on the back of a dominant defense. New Orleans is riding a 10-game streak of allowing 20 or fewer points as they have done a wonderful job limiting scoring opportunities for their opponents.

What should you be keeping an eye on when the teams take the field Sunday afternoon? Here are three key matchups to watch for in the Saints vs. Packers Week 3 matchup.

3. Saints RBs vs. Packers RBs

Asserting your dominance in the running game is one way for football teams to take control of a game. This is an area that both teams have struggled in thus far in the 2023 season. New Orleans has a rushing offense grade of 67.5 while Green Bay’s comes in at 66, ranking 19th and 20th in the NFL.

Both teams are banged up in the backfield as well. Jamaal Williams was forced from last week’s game for the Saints with a hamstring injury. Aaron Jones missed Week 2 because of a hamstring injury of his own for the Packers.

Tony Jones Jr. and rookie Kendre Miller will be taking over in the backfield for New Orleans. For Green Bay, if Jones cannot go, it will be AJ Dillon leading the way once again. Whichever team can find success establishing the run will improve their chances of winning exponentially.

2. Special Teams

This is arguably the most lopsided matchup in the game. The Saints come into Week 3 with the highest-rated special teams unit in the NFL with a grade of 90.1. The Packers are on the other end of the spectrum, ranking 19th with a grade of 64.9, ranking 19th.

While many fans don’t pay too close attention to special teams, this could be where the game is won. If New Orleans wins the field position battle with cleaner play in this facet of the game, it bodes well for them as they lean on their defense to win games.

Coverage teams are where the Saints hold a big advantage. The Packers have solid grades from their return men and will be counting on Pro Bowler Keisean Nixon and rookie Jayden Reed to make a play.

1. Saints Pass Rush vs. Packers Pass-Blocking

The Packers have done an excellent job when it comes to protecting quarterback Jordan Love. He hasn’t faced much pressure the first two weeks of the season, operating regularly out of a clean pocket. That is something that can and should happen again in Week 3.

According to PFF, Green Bay has a 26 percent pass-blocking advantage over New Orleans, the fourth biggest of the matchups this week. It will be interesting to see if those numbers hold up as the Packers could have two different starters along the offensive line this week.

Left guard Elgton Jenkins is going to be sidelined with an MCL injury and left tackle David Bakhtiari missed last week with knee swelling. Can their backups step up? Thus far this season, Green Bay is second in the NFL with a pass-blocking grade of 79.4, while New Orleans is sixth with a pass-rush grade of 81.4.