WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
RADIO: WWL-AM, 870 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge
RECORDS: The Green Bay Packers are 5-2. The Saints are 2-4.
LAST WEEK: The Packers jumped out to a 28-0 lead at home against Carolina (3-3-1) and defeated the Panthers 38-17. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-22 passing; and the Packers rushed for 122 yards and two TDs on 30 attempts in the victory, their fourth in a row. As for the Saints, they squandered a 23-10 lead they took at the 5:24 mark of the fourth quarter at Detroit (5-2) before losing 24-23.
COACHES: Packers, Mike McCarthy, 9th season (87-47-1); Saints, Sean Payton, 8th season (75-43)
(League rank in parenthesis)
Points: Saints, 25.8 (10th); Packers, 28.4 (4th)
Total yards: Saints, 437 (2nd); Packers, 325.4 (25th)
Rushing: Saints, 123 (13th); Packers, 98.7 (22nd)
Passing: Saints, 314 (2nd); Packers, 226.7 (20th)
Points: Saints, 27.5 (28th); Packers, 21 (T-9th)
Total yards: Saints, 373.7 (21st); Packers, 362.7 (19th)
Rushing: Saints, 103.2 (11th); Packers, 147.9 (31st)
Passing: Saints, 270.5 (28th); Packers, 214.9 (6th)
Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Randall Cobb, RB Eddie Lacy, LB Clay Matthews, DE Julius Peppers
Saints: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, RB Mark Ingram, CB Keenan Lewis, LB Junior Galette, S Kenny Vaccaro
Offense: It’s can’t be stressed enough how effectively quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and just one interception in the Packers’ first seven games. Jordy Nelson was leading the NFL as of [Monday afternoon] with 712 receiving yards, and he also had six touchdowns. Randall Cobb has caught eight other scoring throws from Rodgers. On the ground, running back Eddie Lacy is 15th in the NFL with 369 rushing yards, and he has four touchdowns — one more than anyone on the Saints.
For a Saints defense that’s been struggling but saw improvement at Detroit before the team collapsed late, it’ll be a stiff challenge containing so many playmakers.
Defense: Green Bay as of Tuesday was tied for second in the NFL in takeaways with 14. Their secondary was No. 2 in the league with 10 interceptions. That’s helped them post a league-best turnover differential of plus-10.
There may be an opportunity for the Saints to attack Green Bay on the ground. The Packers’ rushing defense is 31st in the league. The Saints’ rushing attack is above average at 13th, but there was an unconfirmed NFL Network report that running back Pierre Thomas could miss up to three weeks with a shoulder injury he suffered in Detroit.
Thomas’ absence would greatly benefit the Packers. The Saints running back is in a three-way tie for his team’s lead in total touchdowns with three. He has caught 26 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, and he has rushed 30 times for 133 yards and two TDs.
Special teams: Mason Crosby is 8-of-9 (an above-average 89 percent) on field goals for the Packers this season. His season-long of 55 yards had him in a five-way tie for the fourth-longest kick of the year so far as of Monday.
Green Bay is middle of the pack in kickoff return average (23.6 yards) and as of Tuesday was top 10 in punt return average (9.6).
-- Green Bay is the first team the Saints face in 2014 that made the playoffs last year. The Packers are also the team with the best record that they’ve hosted at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season.
New Orleans beat 2-5 Minnesota and 1-5 Tampa Bay at home this year; but they struggled to put the Vikings away before triumphing 20-9, and they needed overtime to vanquish the Buccaneers 37-31.
-- Hailing from the community of Gretna just outside of New Orleans’ West Bank section, Eddie Lacy is set to play his first game at the Superdome since becoming a pro in 2013, when he was the NFL’s rookie of the year and was chosen for the Pro Bowl.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed Lacy’s family’s home in Gretna in 2005; and he subsequently finished high school at Dutchtown in Geismar, where he was a highly recruited running back.
Lacy played for former LSU coach Nick Saban at Alabama in college, and he was teammates with Saints running back Mark Ingram for a season. Lacy was part of the three BCS titles Alabama won from 2010-13.
Saban isn’t Lacy’s only tie to LSU.
His half-brother Donovan Grayson used to be an LSU linebacker, so expect lots of homecoming-themed stories featuring Lacy this week.
-- Meanwhile, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is set to return to New Orleans, where he was the Saints’ offensive coordinator under ex-coach Jim Haslett from 2000-04. McCarthy’s coaching record with the Packers against the Saints is 2-2 — with defeats in 2006 and 2008 and victories in 2011 and 2012.
Brees is again up for FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week after passing for 342 yards and two touchdowns at Detroit. However, an interception he threw late in the fourth quarter which led to the Lions’ game-winning touchdown will make it difficult for him to win the award. Fans can vote for Brees at NFL.com/FedEx. ... The Saints on Sunday signed free-agent guard/center Eric Olsen to add depth to the offensive line. He will occupy a roster spot held by defensive end Glenn Foster — who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Detroit — and arrives after Saints center Jonathan Goodwin has left three of the last four games with injuries. ... Additionally, the Saints signed tackle DeMarcus Love to the practice squad and from it waived center Alex Parsons.