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A Preview of the Saints vs the Rams

The Saints are gearing up to play a familiar foe Sunday.  But be warned– this isn’t the same old Rams team that used to get pushed around by every team it faced.  The addition of Sam Bradford at quarterback seems to be the shot in the arm that the team has needed to put it on the rise.

And on the rise it is.  At 6-6, the Rams have proven to be as legitimate a .500 team as any in the league as they try to keep pace in the fledgling NFC West.  Offensively, they are led by the power running of Steven Jackson, which is complemented by the impressive first year play of Bradford.  Add to that an improved defense that currently allows the 10th fewest points per game and ranks 14th against the run, and you get a recipe for being able to throw even the most prolific offense off its game.

But theirs won’t be an easy task as they come into the Superdome to take on the Saints whose offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately.  The power running of Chris Ivory has brought balance back to the offense and has allowed the passing game to get back to form.  Drew Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards in five of the last six games, connecting with his receivers and tight ends down the field almost at will.  With the most impressive progression of Jimmy Graham and the return of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas to the lineup, the Saints offense automatically gets added advantage over any defense.  Bush is a matchup nightmare all by himself and Thomas is a master of the screen, something with which the Saints have struggled since his injury.  And Graham gives Brees another big target down the middle of the field.  Sean Payton has the luxury of really opening up his playbook now to keep opposing defenses on their toes.  Playing against the Rams’ 19th ranked pass defense, however, should afford Brees and company another big game.

Defensively though, the Saints are starting to look suspect.  After being ranked as high as 3rd overall this season, the defense has slowly but steadily slipped down to 9th (though they are still ranked 3rd against the pass).  Not only did Dallas and Cincinnati move the ball consistently against them, both teams amassed impressive yardage against a unit that is much improved statistically, at least on paper.  Nonetheless, the Saints are 3rd in the NFL in forced fumbles with 17 on the year so far.  If anything, that has been the defense’s saving grace.

It’s going to be critical that pressure be put on Bradford if the Saints are going to slow down the Rams offense, who I think have surprised a lot of people and exceeded all expectations.  For a rookie, he is very poised in the pocket and doesn’t make many mistakes.  Plus, he has the work horse, Jackson to take some of the pressure off.  The Saints are quite familiar with Jackson, who literally gave them fits in their last matchup.  So, New Orleans’ defense is going to have to be on its game and not allow the Rams to hang around because they have historically played the Saints tough and have been known to pull an upset when least expected.  Let’s hope that Gregg Williams has a few surprises up his sleeve in coming up with ways to get at Bradford and goad him into making some mistakes. 

To put it mildly, the Saints need to execute a flawless game Sunday, if for no other reason than getting into the habit of doing it in anticipation of the playoffs.  The penalties have to be eliminated as do the turnovers and special teams really need to step it up.  It’s great to see the offense coming back together and the defense getting back to creating takeaways though.  I think the addition of LB Kawika Mitchell is definitely an upgrade which should benefit the team greatly.  As the Saints look to add their sixth straight win and improve to 10-3, I expect Payton and Williams to have them geared up to play at a playoff level.  Don’t expect this game to be a walk in the park for the Saints, however.  The Rams are going to come out playing a very physical, grinding type of game that is going to test the Saints defense to its limits.  But in the end, I think Brees and the Saints potent pass attack will be too much for them. For some reason, I think Bush will have a huge game.   My prediction:  the Saints will win it 30-13.

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4 Responses to “A Preview of the Saints vs the Rams”

  1. SaintMichael says:

    So much for the Panthers helping us out 🙁

    It’s beginning to look like we’ll be a 12-4 or 13-3 Wild Card this year. Really rotten luck as most seasons that nets you a first round bye and a #1 or #2 seed.

    • I know,but we get to see more of our Saints. Plus, somehow they play better on the road. 2 of their 3 losses have been in the dome. I think they’ll be fine if they just settle down and cut out all the costly mistakes. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. SaintMichael says:

    Good job on the score prediction!

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