The New Orleans Saints will visit the Green Bay Packers on Friday night at Lambeau Field in the second preseason contest for both teams. New Orleans was defeated 17-13 on the road by the Houston Texans last Saturday, failing to cover as a one-point favorite. Green Bay also dropped its preseason opener on the road by a 28-21 score to the San Francisco 49ers on Friday as a 2.5-point underdog.
This is the 10th preseason meeting between these teams with Green Bay winning seven of those so far, although the last one came back in 2015.
New Orleans offense sluggish in preseason openerA new era began on Saturday for the Saints as they had their first game action under new head coach Dennis Allen following the departure of Sean Payton after 16 years, with the offense getting off to a lethargic start. Andy Dalton led a successful first drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Washington, but that would be the only time New Orleans found the end zone all night, and the Texans scored the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left.
Dalton was the bright spot, finishing his lone drive 5/5 for 51 yards and a touchdown as he looks the part of a capable backup. Rookie Abram Smith carried the ball seven times for 30 yards, while Dai'Jean Dixon recorded three receptions for 33 yards.
"I saw a lot of things I really liked out there," Allen said via ESPN. "There are some things we've got to get cleaned up. The ball was on the ground too many times. We've got to get that aspect cleaned up, but I was pleased with the way the first units went in there and played. Offensively, we scored a touchdown, and defensively, we had two three-and-outs so that was encouraging. "
As starting quarterback Jameis Winston is coming off a torn ACL, we shouldn't expect to see him this preseason, and Dalton probably won't get more than a quarter in any game. That means a lot of Ian Book, a second-year quarterback out of Notre Dame who went 15/22 for 121 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
Allen, who coached the then Oakland Raiders from 2012 to 2014 before becoming the defensive coordinator in New Orleans, is now 4-9 in his career for the preseason. The Saints went 1-1 in the preseason last season, with the two games getting decided by a combined five points.
Smith, an undrafted free agent who set Baylor's single-season rushing record with 1.601 yards in 2021, will be a player to watch in the preseason as he tries to establish himself on the depth chart. With not a lot solidified on the wide receiver depth chart for New Orleans, Marquez Calloway could be a big factor in the preseason as he tries to recover from a disappointing 2021.
Tight end Dylan Soehner (undisclosed), safety Smoke Monday (torn ACL), offensive tackle Jared Hawkins (undisclosed), linebacker D'Marco Jackson (undisclosed) and offensive tackle Ethan Greenidge (knee) are out. Linebacker Zack Baun (hamstring), linebacker Pete Werner (groin) and tight end Taysom Hill (ribs) are listed as questionable.
Love shaky as Packers loseWhile the stakes weren't quite as high as usual, the Packers again lost to the nemesis 49ers in their first action of 2022, with quarterback Jordan Love turning in a disappointing performance. Love did connect with rookie Romeo Doubs for a 33-yard touchdown with 5:44 to go in the first quarter before throwing a 33-yard score to Danny Davis late in the third. Green Bay went up 21-20 on Danny Etling's 22-yard touchdown pass to Armani Rodgers with 12:53 to go, but San Francisco found the end zone on a long pass five minutes later for the game-winner.
Love finished 13/24 for 176 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in the tough showing. Tyler Goodson led the ground game with 12 carries for 37 yards, while BJ Baylor was a deep threat with two catches for 75 yards.
"Certainly, he's going to want a couple of the throws back and certainly some of the reads," coach Matt LaFleur said about Love via ESPN. "But it's never perfect for a quarterback. But I thought, by and large, just watching the things like how the operation was, it was a smooth operation."
It would be a shock to see Aaron Rodgers take any preseason snaps, so expect Love to dominate the playing time as the Packers will want to see what they have in the former first-round pick. Etling, who was effective going 6/8 for 123 yards and a touchdown on Friday, looks like he will play around a quarter of each game.
LaFleur hasn't placed a big emphasis on the preseason as he is now 2-6 in his career with both those wins coming in his first year at the helm. The Packers went 0-3 last preseason while getting outscored 68-21, struggling mightily on both sides of the ball.
Goodson, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa who racked up 1,151 yards for the Hawkeyes in 2021, figures to be featured prominently again as he battles for a roster spot. Doubs is generating some buzz at camp after piling up over 3,000 receiving yards in college at Nevada, and has a chance to establish himself in a shallow receiver group for the Packers.
Running back Kylin Hill (knee), kicker Mason Crosby (knee), offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), and wideout Osirus Mitchell (quad) are out. Linebacker Tipa Galeai (undisclosed), guard Elgton Jenkins (knee), tight end Robert Tonyan (knee), wideout Christian Watkins (knee), safety Dallin Leavitt (shoulder), linebacker LaDarius Hamilton (groin), wideout Randall Cobb (foot), safety Innis Gaines (hamstring) and safety Darnell Savage (hamstring) are all questionable.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Packers have not looked sharp on either side of the ball under LaFleur in the preseason the last two years, so the underdog Saints have some good value here. A first-year head coach in Allen plus the two new coordinators in New Orleans may want to put in some extra effort in the preseason to make sure everything is running smoothly, while Green Bay has to be concerned with Love's performance so far.
Having a very capable backup like Dalton who looked great running the offense can give the Saints a leg up here, and in the second week of the preseason we could see him play a couple more drives compared to last week. On the other side, Love hasn't looked comfortable operating an NFL offense either in preseason or actual games, and his inaccuracy last week is a major concern.
New Orleans at least played well on the defensive side of the ball in the opener, and Green Bay's offense is only averaging 10.5 points per game in its last four preseason contests. Take the points here, as the Saints are more than capable of keeping up with the preseason Packers based on what we've seen from Love.
Full-Game Total Pick
Book did not have a good opener under center either, averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt with an interception. The Saints also surrendered five sacks, and Green Bay's superior depth on the defensive front compared to Houston could make things even worse for Book this week.
A major concern for both teams is the wide receiver position, especially in the preseason as there isn't a lot of depth in these rosters, so don't expect the highest quality of play in the passing game. Based on how both primary quarterbacks look, go with the under here.