The New Orleans Saints desperately need a victory as they attempt to ascend from their pit of 2-4, a status largely owed to three road losses totaling six points – three points to Atlanta, two to Cleveland and one to Detroit.
The Packers currently own the third-longest winning streak in the NFL, a four-game sprint that has allowed Green Bay to raise its record to 5-2.
But those facts – and almost every other one associated with the nationally televised, Sunday night game between the two teams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – will take a backseat to the probability that the respective quarterbacks, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, are going to engage in an aerial display that'll be an additional chapter in a book that has been statistically epic.
"(You) just know that when you've got Aaron Rodgers on the other side of the ball, and that offense and the way they execute and score points, it just makes you feel like you have to be even that more precise and execute that much better," Brees said. "Take advantage of every opportunity you get. All the little things, all the details become that much more important."
They have history on their sides to lead to that conclusion.
In the three games between the Saints and Packers with Brees and Rodgers as the starting quarterbacks, Brees has completed 87 of 129 passes (67 percent) for 1,188 yards and 10 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Rodgers has countered by completing 81 of 117 passes (69 percent) for 879 yards and nine touchdowns, with four interceptions.
The game results: 28-27, Packers, in 2012 (Brees, 35 for 54 for 446 yards and three touchdowns and Rodgers, 31 for 41 for 319 yards and four touchdowns, with an interception); 42-24, Green Bay, in 2011 (Brees, 32 for 49 for 419 yards and three touchdowns and Rodgers, 27 for 35 for 312 yards and three touchdowns); and 51-29, Saints, in 2008 (Brees, 20 for 26 for 323 yards and four touchdowns and Rodgers, 23 for 41 for 248 yards and two touchdowns, with three interceptions).
All signs point to the quarterbacks leading the way in another offensive show Sunday night.
They lead the Nos. 3 and 10 scoring offenses in the league, Green Bay at 28.4 and New Orleans at 25.8. And both are having productive seasons – Rodgers has completed 141 of 211 passes for 1,674 yards and 18 touchdowns, with one interception, and Brees checks in at 178 for 263 for 1,916 yards and 11 touchdowns, with seven interceptions.
"I think you're going to see two outstanding quarterbacks on the field Sunday night," said Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy, a Saints assistant coach under Jim Haslett from 2000-04. "I think Aaron's playing extremely well, in just the things that we're trying to do differently than we have in the past. I think we've kind of hit our stride the last week or two and that's kind of where we are.
"I just have the utmost respect for Drew and what Drew and Sean have been able to build there on offense.
"I'm sure they look at the game a little bit like we do. We expect to score every time we get it … (but) we have a big challenge with their offense. Maybe this will be a great defensive game. You never know how these games are going to go. But you have two very good offenses that are going to play Sunday night."
Brees and Rodgers enter the game coming off highly productive stretches.
Sunday against Detroit, Brees completed 28 of 45 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, against a Lions defense that entered the game allowing just 197.2 yards a game. And in Green Bay's four-game winning streak, Rodgers has completed 77 of 109 passes (71 percent) for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns, without an interception.
"He's playing the best in the league right now," Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said of Rodgers. "(He) hasn't thrown an interception in 192 passes. Drew, Aaron, (Denver's) Peyton (Manning), (New England's) Tom (Brady) – just that elite category that we call 'Blue Dot.' They're going to beat you some place."
Said linebacker Curtis Lofton: "He's coming in hot. He's one of those quarterbacks that can do it all. He's intelligent, he can run, he can throw, he's going to test us from every facet of the defense, from the line keeping him in the pocket, from linebackers staying with their coverage, and the secondary covering just a little bit longer than what you expect."
That expectation goes along with the belief that Brees and Rodgers will combine to add another potent offensive game to the series.
"Any time you go up against a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers on the other side of the ball, you know how sharp he's going to be," Brees said. "You know you have to be at your best. You don't have to be perfect, but everything is magnified in a game like this. Just to be extremely sharp, to execute very, very well – you know what to expect."