The New Orleans Saints will try to remain one of the hottest teams in the NFL when they face a team beginning one of the most challenging adjustments in the league Sunday.
The Saints (3-2) have won three consecutive games, each by at least two touchdowns, as they head to Green Bay (4-2) to face a Packers team playing its first full game since quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone that will sideline him indefinitely.
New Orleans recognizes that the Packers still have a lot of talent and Lambeau Field is still a difficult place for visiting teams to win. But the reality remains that Brett Hundley isn't Rodgers.
"You're putting a plan together for the overall offense or defense," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "Certainly, there's changes when you have a player at the quarterback position and yet, you still have to put your game plan around what you've been seeing.
"Aaron is one of those guys that moves well and throws on the run well and I think we're preparing to play a real good football team. None of us wants to be without our starting quarterback, but this is a team that's won a lot of games and I think our players will understand that."
The turnaround of the Saints' defense has mirrored that of the team during its win streak. New Orleans has taken the ball away nine times against Carolina, Miami and Detroit, scoring on three of the five they had in a 52-38 victory against the Lions last Sunday.
"We've been able to get pressure on the quarterbacks and with that, the coverage has been tight," Payton said. "We've had some tipped plays, some interceptions, some near interceptions. We've had some takeaways."
The Saints are coming off their best rushing performance of the season as Mark Ingram II had the team's first individual 100-yard game of the season and ran for two touchdowns. New Orleans finished with 193 rushing yards.
After not turning the ball over at all during the first four games of the season, the Saints turned it over three times against Detroit. Still, they're plus-6 on turnovers for the season.
"Look at what our defense has been able to do in that regard over the last three weeks," quarterback Drew Brees said. "Offensively, I think we've done a pretty good job of it with the exception of this Detroit game and yet thankfully the defense had so many, it offset ours. I think that's obviously the No. 1 step in football.
"Obviously, we have some momentum. We like the direction that we are going. We understand the things that have happened these last three weeks that've allowed us to win. I think when you taste that success, the lightbulb comes on a little bit and you are able to realize when we do this, it gives us a great chance to win. When we don't do this, this hinders our chances of winning so we're just becoming a smarter team."
SERIES HISTORY: 25th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 16-8. Green Bay is 10-2 at home, including 4-1 at Lambeau Field and 6-1 in Milwaukee. The Saints won the last meeting 44-23 in 2014 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Packers won the last meeting at Lambeau Field, prevailing 28-27 in 2012.
A point of emphasis for the Saints' offense this week is getting better on third down. They converted just 2 of 12 third downs last week. "I think it is just some little details," quarterback Drew Brees said. "I think it is getting into some better third-down situations. I think we have been into an abnormal number of third-and-long situations. I think that's due to penalties and some negative plays that we probably could've avoided. Your percentages go way up when you're in manageable situations."
The Saints placed linebacker Nate Stupar on injured reserve after Stupar suffered a torn ACL against Detroit last week. To replace Stupar, who was primarily a special-teams player, the Saints re-signed linebacker Michael Mauti, a special-teams captain last season who was released at the end of the preseason.
The Saints waived linebacker Adam Bighill, released tackle Bryce Harris, promoted running back Daniel Lasco from the practice squad and signed defensive tackle John Hughes.
NOTES: T Terron Armstead was limited in practice Wednesday, but he showed no ill effects after making his season debut last Sunday following offseason shoulder surgery.
WR Willie Snead IV (hamstring) was limited after playing 30 percent of the offensive snaps in his season debut Sunday. The hamstring injury kept him out of the Oct. 1 game against Miami and he was suspended for the three games before that.
DE Cam Jordan was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Detroit. Jordan had five tackles, two sacks and three passes defensed. He also made an interception in the Lions' end zone for his first career touchdown, which sealed the victory.
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