After another jarring loss for the Saints on Thursday night, New Orleans takes on St. Louis at home on Sunday. The Saints are still in the hunt but will need help to have any chance to take the NFC South. The Saints have proven they are more than capable of competing with the best of the NFL but still continue to beat themselves from week to week. With a favorable matchup against the struggling Rams, the Saints cannot afford to drop another game this season.
As for the Rams, head coach Jeff Fisher has turned the reigns over to rookie quarterback Jared Goff. Goff is hoping to get back into the NFC West race with the Seahawks’ play questionable this season. The Rams were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year but have taken great strides to improve their defense. Linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive lineman Aaron Donald have built one of the best front sevens in the league and are hoping to get after quarterback Drew Brees on Sunday.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ offensive line has played much better than expected this year and will have a tough matchup against the Rams this Sunday. They have managed to keep Drew Brees upright but has struggled to block in the run game in recent weeks. If the Saints hope to find success on offense they must regain a balanced offense. Max Unger and company will have a handful blocking defensive lineman Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams’ front seven and will be a difference maker this Sunday.
The Saints have stuck to a rotation in their backfield and will continue to do so if Mark Ingram (concussion) is cleared to play this week. Playing a struggling Rams’ offense, head coach Sean Payton will look to control time of possession and will do so handing the ball off and setting up play action. If the Saints can return to a balanced offense it will be tough for St. Louis to upset the Saints at home Sunday.
The Rams have struggled to pass the ball all season and the Saints’ secondary will need to force rookie Jared Goff into making questionable decisions behind center. The Saints have lost the turnover battle and struggled to convert points on offense so turnovers will be a key factor in a Saints’ victory. Rookie Vonn Bell and veteran Kenny Vaccaro will have their hands full at the safety position with the Rams’ speedsters at wide receiver but defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has faith in his young defense to perform in the Superdome.
The Rams invested their first round pick in Todd Gurley a year ago and has made him the face of the Los Angeles Rams. He has struggled to perform this season but he cannot be completely blamed for his lack of performance. The Saints have improved their run defense in recent weeks but Gurley will have to get it done on the ground to alleviate pressure off of rookie quarterback Jared Goff. Jess Fisher will look to get the ball in his playmaker’s hands early and often.
The Rams’ defensive line features the best defensive lineman in the league, Aaron Donald. He will be counted on to disrupt the Saints’ offense behind the line of scrimmage. To help the Rams’ secondary, expect the Saints’ former defensive coordinator, and Rams’ defensive coordinator, Greg Williams to send pressure and count on his defensive front seven to get home. Veterans William Hayes and Robert Quinn will be responsible for getting pressure on the edge as they try to limit the damage from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
To accompany the Rams’ defensive line, Alec Ogletree and the linebacking core will be busy in the Superdome this Sunday. Complimenting in both pass and run coverage, Los Angeles will count on the Rams to alleviate pressure in the passing game and to disrupt any chance of the Saints establishing a run game. Look for pressure to come up the middle from Greg Williams’ defense and for the linebacking core to be a key part of a Rams’ victory.
What should be another close game, look for both teams to come out hungry and try to force mistakes on the defensive end. Both teams are in survival mode for the rest of the season and must find a way to get it done inside the Superdome in New Orleans.