One of the marquee Week 1 matchups to kick off the 2021 NFL regular season is the Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints, but the game will not be played in New Orleans because of the damage the city suffered by the recent Hurricane Ida, which devastated most of Louisiana. It likely will be played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Sept. 12, an obvious break for the Packers. They are 3-point favorites on the NFL odds.
Week 1 matchups 2021 NFL regular season
Saints coach Sean Payton said this week that he doesn’t expect the team to return to New Orleans for the entirety of September. The entire Saints contingent is in Dallas currently and practicing there, and the stadium would be open on Sept. 12 because the Cowboys play on Sept. 9 in the Kickoff Game at the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs.
The only events scheduled at AT&T Stadium in the next two weeks are the All-State Kickoff Classic featuring Kansas State and Stanford on Sept. 4 and the Latin band Los Bukis on Sept. 15.
“That’s certainly possible,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this week about his stadium hosting Packers- Saints. “We’re having discussions. There’s a lot of moving parts, but we certainly have a kinship with the Saints because of our proximity to Louisiana. It’s a natural for us.”
Lambeau Field will be open that weekend, too, but Payton does not want to give the Packers homefield advantage for what is supposed to be a Saints’ home game. The Saints’ next two games are on the road vs. the Panthers (9/19) and Patriots (9/26). New Orleans next home game is scheduled for Oct. 3 against the New York Giants and there’s a good chance they could host that one.
While Caesars Superdome was not badly damaged, as it was by Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, it may take New Orleans weeks to recover from Ida, which knocked out power to more than 1 million people in Louisiana and Mississippi.
New Orleans will be without Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas for the first six weeks as he will be placed on the PUP list following ankle surgery in June. Players on the PUP list cannot begin practicing until the first six weeks of the regular season have passed, but Thomas is required to miss only five games since the Saints have a bye in Week 6. The first game he could possibly play is at the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Week 7.
Thomas missed a total of nine games last year after he originally suffered the ankle injury in the final minutes of Week 1. He finished with 40 catches for 438 yards in seven regular-season games and didn’t catch his first touchdown pass until the playoffs.
Green Bay will be without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who also will open on the PUP list. Bakhtiari tore his ACL during practice on Dec. 31, knocking him out of the Packers’ postseason run. The five-time All-Pro — and the only tackle in the NFL to earn either first- or second-team recognition in each of the last five seasons (2016-2020) — was never likely to be ready for the season opener against the Orleans Saints. The Packers signed Bakhtiari to a four-year contract extension last November, putting him under contract through 2024.
The one glimmer of hope for the Packers is that Elgton Jenkins, who earned Pro Bowl honors as a guard last year, has looked good at left tackle in place of Bakhtiari this offseason. Jenkins is no stranger to the left tackle spot, having spent time there in both 2019 and 2020. Through his first two NFL seasons, Jenkins has shown he is one of the most versatile players not only in Green Bay but the entire league.
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