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New Orleans Saints defense prepares for potent Green Bay offense

Saints defense has six sacks, three turnovers in first two games

Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Las Vegas Raiders matchup in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.
Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Las Vegas Raiders matchup in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.

Through two games, Green Bay's best defense arguably has been its offense.

The Packers, 2-0 entering Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints (1-1) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, are the league's top scoring offense (85 points) through two games. But more, the Packers have been able to establish leads that were so significant in 43-34 and 42-21 victories over Minnesota and Detroit, respectively, that it has forced both opponents to abandon any notion of balance in favor of scoring as quickly as possible in futile comeback attempts.

The Packers led Minnesota 22-10 at halftime, and stacked on another touchdown in the third quarter to establish a 19-point bulge entering the fourth. And against the Lions, the halftime lead of 17-14 ballooned to 34-14 by the end of the third.

With quarterback Aaron Rodgers (50 of 74 for 604 yards and six touchdowns), running back Aaron Jones (34 carries for 234 yards and three touchdowns, plus a receiving touchdown) and receiver Davante Adams (17 catches, 224 yards, two touchdowns), Green Bay has been difficult to contain on offense.

"The first thing you look at is their balance," Saints Coach Sean Payton said Thursday. "They're not one-dimensional. They're rushing the ball right at the top of the league (a league-leading 208.5 yards per game, on a league-high 6.2 yards per carry), their skill positions are outstanding and obviously, Aaron (Rodgers) has got great command of what they're doing.

"They've really pressured the opposing offenses because in both cases, by the second half, teams they're playing against are one-dimensional. So you can point to a lot of specifics – I think their scheme has been fantastic, obviously Aaron executing it, is comfortable in it. But I think most importantly, you're seeing the balance and that's the challenge. And I think you notice that especially this season."

Green Bay didn't possess similar balance last year, when it ran for 112.2 yards per game. Through two games, the Packers have totaled about 25 percent of last year's overall rushing total.

Again, the Saints' defense must be on alert for a high-powered offense.

"Just tempo, playing with energy, making sure we understand the coverage we're in, understand the defense we're in," Payton said. "It's going to take a great team effort, it's not just one individual. You start with some of those things."

Start, too, with Rodgers, one of the best in the league.

"He's one of the top quarterbacks in the game," Saints linebacker Demario Davis said. "It makes it very challenging, playing at a high level for a long time. So you just got to understand what they do well, try to limit that it's not just Aaron Rodgers, (but also) one of the top receivers in the game (Adams), one of the top running backs in the game (Jones), very explosive offense, just a whole cast of other great players on the team.

"It's going to be a challenge for us and it's going to be a challenge to prepare for them and be ready, but come Sunday we'll put it out against theirs.

"They have a very explosive offense, they have a lot of weapons and can get the ball to people in a lot of different ways and so it makes it challenging. We have good guys on our side as well. Come Sunday, our guys have to be better than their guys."

Especially, the Saints will need to clean up some of the defensive errors that have glared in the first two games. Overall, the team has been penalized 16 times for 248 yards, and 12 have been defensive penalties. Only one of the 12 hasn't resulted in a first down.

"It's that critical time early in the year where we need to make the corrections so that we have the success that we're looking to have as the season moves forward," Payton said.

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