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Saints-Packers opener will provide plenty of scoring, highlights

It's been a long, trying offseason for NFL fans, but football is finally back with the Saints-Packers opener in Green Bay. Who do you like to win the battle of the past two Super Bowl champs and what is one thing you guarantee will happen in the game?

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  • Brian Billick NFL Network
  • Tough to open in Green Bay

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  </table> New Orleans can now duplicate its 2009 formula with a solid stable of running backs: Pierre Thomas, first-round draft pick Mark Ingram and free-agent addition Darren Sproles.  

Defensively, the addition of Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers should be enough to stifle Green Bay's running game, but the Packers don't care. Aaron Rodgers and Co. got used to not having a running game in 2010. Pressure would seem to be the order of the day, but Rodgers ranked second in the NFL in efficiency vs. the blitz last season.

The Packers didn't do much in free agency because they didn't have to. All they had to do was get healthy, and they did. It's hard to imagine what the addition of tight end Jermichael Finley will do to the fifth-ranked passing attack.

Lambeau Field is a tough venue to start the season. Hard to imagine the Packers not taking care of business.

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Heck of an opening act

I can guarantee you we will all be entertained, fully, on Thursday. On that I give you my word.

With each of these blockbuster games, the spring and summer of the lockout will fade even more and the pure joy that watching and playing this game provokes will prevail.

I'm guaranteeing a bunch of superior individual efforts by some of the game's elite playmakers. I'm guaranteeing you both quarterbacks make us hop out of our seats. I'm guaranteeing you a madhouse festive atmosphere. And I bet at some point, maybe even during introductions, Aaron Rodgers pulls out that imaginary WWE title belt.

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  • Steve Wyche
  • Circumstances favor defending champs

I am a big believer in home teams at night and that's one of the reasons I am going with the Packers. Playing in front of that awesome crowd in Lambeau Field is just as intimidating for visiting teams as it is playing in front of the Who Dat Nation in the Superdome.

The Saints not having defensive end Will Smith (suspended) and wide receiver Lance Moore (injury) also hurts.

The Saints' running game could give the Packers some problems, especially Pierre Thomas off tackle plays. However, the Packers' defense will deny more than one or two explosive (20-plus yards) plays.

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  • Charles DavisNFL Network
  • Quarterbacks will be on full display

The one thing that I can guarantee will happen is that it will feel like a game of one-upsmanship between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. At some point, it will be like the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird H.O.R.S.E commercial. "Off the Lambeau sign, off the Willie Davis sign, off the Lombardi sign, to an open receiver ... Touchdown!"

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Points should be in abundance

I like the Packers at home in a fairly high-scoring game (27-21). Both quarterbacks could approach the 300-yard number and both tight ends, Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley, will make a few big plays. Both defenses will use plenty of pressure calls to disrupt the quarterbacks. Last season, the Packers pressured more on early downs and the Saints blitzed 66 percent of the time on third down. Lance Moore will not play for the Saints and that limits some of the personnel groups they like to use.

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  • Elliot Harrison
  • Packers have too much firepower

The Packers should win, because I don't trust the Saints' third and fourth defensive backs to be able to cover the Packers' third and fourth wideouts. That said, this will be no blowout.

I guarantee turnovers will play a central role in the outcome of this game. While the Saints can stand toe-to-toe with the Packers, I have the distinct feeling that a Drew Brees pick or Mark Ingram fumble will put them behind the eight-ball. On the flip side, the Packers are good, but not good enough to overcome a big turnover differential to New Orleans. Essentially, giving either offense a short field in this game is football suicide.

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