Packers vs Saints: Gameday Preview - 2023 Week 3

Jordan Love makes his first home start today against the Saints, looking to rebound from a disappointing finish last week.


The last time the Packers played the Saints was the 2021 season opener. The Packer got crushed in New Orleans 38-3, as Aaron Rodgers threw 2 interceptions while Jameis Winston tossed 5 touchdowns.

Both teams have new quarterbacks this year, but both teams are also missing key players for today's matchup, putting the outcome very much up for grabs.



Jordan Love has been brought along slowly in the first couple games of his inaugural season as the starter.

This makes a lot of sense. The Packers have spent years developing him and there's no reason to burn him out as soon as he takes the mantle. He's thrown 27 and 25 passes in his two starts. That's a pretty modest volume, but he's been extremely efficient with his opportunities.

Despite some inaccurate passes, he has flashed high-end starter ability and currently leads the NFL in touchdown passes and passer rating. Still, the Packers have been patient, sticking with a run-heavy approach, even with Aaron Jones out and AJ Dillon failing.

The Packers could open up the passing a game a little more this week.

Eltgon Jenkins is out for today's game, while David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones are both Questionable, so the run game is sure to suffer. The Saints have a good run defense, and held Derrick Henry to 63 yards in Week 1 and Miles Sanders to 43 yards in Week 2

The Packers will need to lean on the pass more than in previous weeks. If Christian Watson is able to return, he should give Love a field-stretching weapon that he hasn't had so far. Couple that with a home crowd making it easier to call line checks and audibles, and Love should be primed to continue his productive season.

But it won't be easy - the Saints defense has some impressive stats.

They're only giving up 16 points per game this year and haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points since November 7th of last year. Defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Carl Granderson each have 11 pressures this year, making them the top duo in the NFL in that category. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore has only allowed a quarterback rating of 9.4 this year.

All of that sounds impressive, but the Saints have faced the Titans and the Panthers. Those aren't exactly stellar offenses. For reference, the Panthers scored 10 against Atlanta, but put up 17 against the Saints.

The Saints have been really good against the run and, despite having a pair of ends that generate pressures, they have the worst pass rush win rate in the NFL after two weeks.

Plus, New Orleans will be without safety Marcus Maye, who was suspended earlier this week. He'll be replaced by rookie Jordan Howden. The Saints coaches have spoken highly of Howden, but he's a Day 3 rookie, who was a backup for a reason. Matt LaFleur will need to find ways to exploit this, and Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed can play big roles in that regard.

It's tough to gauge teams after only two weeks, but with a banged up offensive line, and facing a team that is missing a key starter in the secondary, the Packers offense may match up well with quick routes and screen passes.



The Saints defense may be tough to figure out, but the offense looks more sure to underwhelm.

They're strong at receiver where Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, and Rashid Shaheed form a trio of productive receivers. 

The Saints are top 8 in passing yardage, but only have one passing touchdown. They are productive based on talent, but new quarterback Derek Carr hasn't looked dialed in in his first year as the Saints quarterback. When pressured, he's actually looked pretty bad and the Saints passing game has suffered from poor pass blocking.

Derek Carr has been sacked 8 times in 2 games (7th worst in the league). Rashan Gary, who saw his snap count jump from 12 to 22 in Week 2, will probably be in line for more even more reps playing on Green Bay's surface next to Preston Smith, who has been his consistent self. Lukas Van Ness is listed as Questionable, but even if he doesn't play, Kingsley Enagbare, Karl Brooks, and Colby Wooden have taken rotational reps to keep the unit fresh. Today, that rotation should help keep the pressure on Carr and keep the Saints passing game in check.

In order for the pass rush to hit home, though, the defense needs to cover.

Jaire Alexander was a late add to the injury report on Friday with a back injury. He is the best candidate to cover Chris Olave. If he can't handle that, the Packers could be in trouble. Rasul Douglas is a good matchup on Michael Thomas, where Douglas's quick instincts can neutralize Thomas's underneath work. Slot receiver Rashid Shaheed will be a tough cover for whoever draws him. Given the injury situation, we may see Darnell Savage playing up in the slot, or a lot more nickel and dime coverage than we're used to seeing.

 Extra defensive backs may be the base defense for today's game anyways, since the Saints running game has been poor to start the season.

Top running back Alvin Kamara is suspended, and his back up, Jamaal Williams, is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry. Williams may not even play due to a hamstring issue. Third running back Tony Jones is barely averaging 3.0 yards per carry. In fact, the New Orleans running game has been so bad that gadget quarterback Taysom Hill has been their leading rusher, gaining 79 of the team's 203 rushing yards.

The Packers will need to be on guard for trick plays with Hill - unfortunately, this is not the strength of the Green Bay defense. Their line has been more active this year, which has disrupted opposing runners, but was not enough to slow Atlanta down. New Orleans should be an easier assignment.

If they can pressure Carr and contain Hill's trick plays, the Packers should be in good shape.



Anders Carlson still hasn't missed a kick this season.

Keisean Nixon hasn't been the force he was last year on kick returns - he is averaging 27.5 yards on kick returns, but has been bringing the ball out from deep in the end zone, providing little, if any, advantage for the offense.

The Saints have Jimmy Graham, again... though I can't explain why.



The Packers have looked promising their first two weeks. They put out a statement in Week 1 and looked ready to do the same in Week 2 before faltering down the stretch.

Jaire Alexander and others on the team admitted they thought they had the game in the bag. This may have led to them letting up.

The promising side of this is that afterwards, the players immediately looked at film and began healthy discussion about how to improve. This is the kind of behavior that helps young teams grow and get better.

I think the knowledge that they let one get away and the feeling that they can do better will fuel them this week. Multiplied with the emotions of a home opener and cheering support for Jordan Love as he makes his first ever start at Lambeau Field will give the team an emotional boost against a team with a floundering run game and an inconsistent passing attack.

The Packers have had double digit 4th quarter leads in both games this year. I think they get one again this week and keep it.

Packers 23, Saints 13


Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.


2 points

Comments (10)

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Savage57's picture

September 24, 2023 at 06:31 am

This one's a dart toss, which should make for an entertaining game. Whatever the outcome turns out to be, it's going to reveal more about the team and its constitution.

If the Packers do carry the day, it's going to be a squeaker, but to the good side of the scoreboard this time.

3 points
greengold's picture

September 24, 2023 at 07:00 am

“That wasn’t a locker room. That was a classroom.”
— Matt Schneidman, describing his impression on how the players gathered by their position groups in the locker room discussed what they could have done better to get the win vs. ATL, after last Sunday’s loss.

This is a different team. I’ll take the Packers today, for the Win.


3 points
Coldworld's picture

September 24, 2023 at 07:29 am

If Carr is not hopping around, then we lose. They don’t have a great OL. We don’t have a great secondary. If Barry can’t win this matchup, which is almost exactly what his scheme is designed for without Kamara, then we probably need to accept that Barry is a lead weight that must be cut loose.

Hill has been part of an offense managing 18 points a game despite large WR numbers. Miller has some wiggle, he’s got decent hands and has burst, but his long speed isn’t his thing and he’s not Jones’ level elusive. He’s also coming off a hammy and is not likely their lead true RB. Their run game has been worse than ours last week if you exclude Hill’s yards. If Miller beats us, we are in deep trouble.

This is a team that beats us in the air with a little help from trick plays with Hill maybe and from stifling our O or goes away losing. It’s as straight forward as that. They’ve not played effective offenses but they have played even then with a weak zone between front and safeties. Reed/Musgrave/Wicks and Watson if he plays all thrive in those areas and should, If we call smartly. Our O should actually match up well in that respect.

Our other strength is speed against their D generally, as with many veteran teams. They play fast rather than having great speed on the secondary. We can use screens as a decoy: they do diagnose them fast and stream to them: enough to create opportunities if LaFleur is smart. This is a game where we have to be both disciplined and imaginative.

I’m surprised that you don’t mention run issue that their D has or their issues on the OL in terms of run blocking and pass blocking. They haven’t been very good at either, particularly away from LT. The young, disruptive players on the DL that were a liability last week should be heroes this week along with our OLBs. They are much more of a rush challenge on paper than the Saints have faced.

They can be run on. If Dillon doesn’t cut it, even if Jones plays, it’s time to let Wilson loose and see, however, if Dillon stays upright, this might be his best chance to turn his season.

4 points
pantz_bURp's picture

September 24, 2023 at 08:23 am

Win, lose or draw against the Saints today...I am excited about this team. I like where they are headed and can't wait to see the identity of this team come into focus.

Go Pack Go! Run and throw where they ain't. That was easy.



** Man, I love Autumn. Even if you want (and I mean really WANT) to be in a fowl just can't!

3 points
Leatherhead's picture

September 24, 2023 at 09:35 am

I wanted to be in a fowl mood but I chickened out.

2 points
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 24, 2023 at 09:22 am

Depending on cell phone coverage, I’ll be watching while floating a river in Wyoming. Love the fall. I’ve read everything I can about the matchups and cannot see how the Saints stop us on D or score on offense. 60-0, Pack rolls.

3 points
Leatherhead's picture

September 24, 2023 at 09:37 am

I think we’ll score more than 20, maybe 30, and the Saints won’t.

2 points
jont's picture

September 24, 2023 at 10:22 am

NO's D "sounds impressive, but the Saints have faced the Titans and the Panthers. Those aren't exactly stellar offenses."

This is true. They might not be as good as their stats show, but they are a good defense, and the fact is that the Packers offense is not yet at the point where they can move and score with consistency.

It looks like a close game, and the Packers' offense cannot settle for winning 3 out of 4 quarters.

0 points
NickPerry's picture

September 24, 2023 at 10:42 am

Jones is OUT...Watson is OUT... Bakhtiari is OUT...

Now...Alexander is OUT...

Lets not forget about Jenkins though that was just one of those freak injuries

The four highest paid players on this team OUT... This team is fudging soft! I'm so sick of these injuries EVERY damn week, every damn YEAR!

I Definity feel sorry for Love. If there was EVER a game Royce Newman, Meyers, Walker, Nijman, and/or Rhyan needed to show up it's NOW. This is a huge challenge for a really, really, young group of offensive players. If I had one ounce of faith in Joe Barry I'd say they could do it.

The Defense needs to step the F up and not let GULP, David Carr beat them!

-1 points
jhtobias's picture

September 24, 2023 at 11:09 am

Everybody freak out !!!!! oh no we have inactive like every team let the crying begin.

-1 points