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GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass against the defense of the Carolina Panthers in first half of the game at Lambeau Field on December 19, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Stacy Revere / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The post-Drew Brees era begins when the New Orleans Saints take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Let’s take a look at the NFL odds that top online sportsbooks are offering and unveil our early NFL picks on this game.

Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, September 12, 2021 - 04:25 PM EDT at TIAA Bank Field

Hurricane Ida has forced this game to be moved from the Superdome in New Orleans to Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field. The Saints have relocated to Dallas in the aftermath of the hurricane, but they were unable to use AT&T Stadium, which has a concert scheduled.

It will be hot and humid in Jacksonville, providing a stark contrast to the air-conditioned Superdome. The Packers may struggle in the heat, as the majority of the team’s starters did not play a snap in preseason, so Matt LaFleur will have to work hard to get them up to speed this week.

It comes at the end of a tumultuous summer for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, last season’s NFL MVP, rocked the franchise with a string of savage comments in a press conference at the start of training camp, and at one point it looked like he would leave.

https://youtu.be/Trdz781X5so

However, Rodgers is still a Packers player, and he has apparently been looking sharp at training camp. The return of Randall Cobb should appease him somewhat, and the Packers offense should be devastating this year.

If the defense can improve under Joe Barry, the new defensive coordinator, the Packers will be serious contenders for the Lombardi Trophy. Time is running out for this team, with Rodgers now 37 years of age, and it will be keen to make a strong start to the season.

Thomas Injury Leaves Saints Receiving Corps in Tatters

Michael Thomas is out for the first month of the season, leaving the Saints with one of the worst receiving corps in the league. New Orleans will lean on the line and run the ball more, but the team could struggle offensively as it acclimatizes to life without Brees.

It will be interesting to see how Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and top overall draft pick in 2015, fills the void. He has always been very talented, but his productivity was erratic while at Tampa Bay. Winston will rely on Deonte Harris and second-year pro Marquez Galloway.

Salary-cap issues have depleted the defense, and that issue has been exacerbated by David Onyemata beginning the season on the suspension list following a positive PET test. The Saints have a number of injury concerns, such as the core muscle injury to kicker Wil Lutz.

The Saints are +100 outsiders to reach the playoffs with BetOnline (visit our Sportsbook Review) this season. You can find -130 on them missing a postseason berth, so it could be tight.

It is a time of upheaval for the Saints, whereas the Packers are largely returning with the same team this season, and that continuity could benefit Green Bay in the opening weeks of the season.

Michael Thomas of the Saints
Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with teammates. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

Most sportsbooks make Green Bay the 4.5-point favorite for this game. Green Bay is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games against the Saints, which might encourage some bettors to go for a safer line of -115 available on Green Bay -3 at Bovada (visit our Sportsbook Review) when considering NFL picks.

However, the Packers are 7-1 straight up in their last 8 games, and they should come into the season full of confidence, with Rodgers leading the charge. For what it’s worth, Green Bay is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games played in September, so it generally starts the season strong.

The Pick

LaFleur took a gamble by leaving his key players out of preseason games. However, the Packers should still win this game comfortably if they quickly adapt to the humidity in Jacksonville. They have a top-ranked offense coming up against a defense that struggled badly last season, led by the reigning MVP, so they should pick up a morale-boosting win in Week 1 and cover the 4.5-point spread.

NFL Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review)

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.