In a not-so-typical move for a coach, Sean Payton refused to play down the New Orleans Saints' season opener at Green Bay, saying Thursday's prime-time meeting between the last two Super Bowl champions is more than enough to get him excited.
"To open the season in a prime-time game against last year's Super Bowl winner, and it happens to be in Lambeau Field, those are a lot of things that get your competitive juices flowing," Payton told the The Times-Picayune on Friday. "And it'll be a tough environment. It'll be a real good challenge. And then, really, take into account that you're playing a team that won the Super Bowl last year. All those things we'll feel and see and recognize as being a big challenge."
Payton talked up the game but downplayed his influence over the result.
"I think, especially early in the season, it's going to come down to blocking and tackling. It's going to come down to protecting the football and the execution," Payton told the newspaper. "That's typically what's going to win or lose games, especially a game like this that's first on the schedule in early September ... as opposed to these fancy new ideas that are going to be the reason a team wins or loses. It's going to come down to the basic things."
The NFL's previous Super Bowl winner has hosted the last seven Thursday openers and won them all.