GLS Picks: Saints-Packers

This is exciting. It’s been 216 days since I’ve gotten to make a pick. We had a lot of momentum at the conclusion of 2011, going 9-2 straight up and against the spread in the postseason.

Let’s hope it’ll carry over to tricky Week 1.

We’ll have 15 picks tomorrow, but the Saints and Packers kick off the NFL season on NBC tonight, so this one has a special space reserved.

Before I begin, here’s my rather pathetic track record. I’m coming off easily my worst season.

2010 season: 155-101 (117-119-20 against the spread)
2009 season: 175-81 (122-101-33 against the spread)
2008 season: 161-94-1 (114-112-30 against the spread)
2007 season: 174-82 (118-105-33 against the spread)

But history says this pick should be fairly obvious. Here’s a look what has taken place on Thursday night openers in recent seasons:

2010: Super Bowl champ Saints beat Vikings, 14-9
2009: Super Bowl champ Steelers beat Titans, 13-10
2008: Super Bowl champ Giants beat Redskins, 16-7
2007: Super Bowl champ Colts beat Saints, 41-10
2006: Super Bowl champ Steelers beat Dolphins, 28-17
2005: Super Bowl champ Patriots beat Raiders, 30-20
2004: Super Bowl champ Patriots beat Colts, 27-24

It’s just too much to ask, sending even a really good team into the home stadium of the defending Super Bowl champion in prime time to open the new season.

The Packers were 7-1 at home last year, and they’re better in 2011 with the return of Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant and several other formerly injured contributors. But the Saints were 6-2 on the road in 2010 and are also much healthier after taking virtually no losses and shoring up the run defense in the offseason.

I just can’t see the Saints getting beaten badly, but I think they’ll get beaten.

The similarities between these teams are kinda wild. They’re both pass-first squads with great defensive backfields, but the Saints might have a small advantage both against the run (especially with the offseason additions of Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers) and on the ground offensively (Mark Ingram has arrived and Pierre Thomas is back).

I think those edges will be enough to make this a field goal game, but I’m picking the Packers in an adrenaline-filled home opener at Lambeau.

Packers 23, Saints 20