This Sunday the New Orleans Saints will host the LA Rams in the Conference title game to see who moves on to play in the Superbowl. The two teams met earlier in the season with the Saints winning after a hard fought Rams attempt at a second half come back. In the first game the Rams were without one of their star corners Aquib Talib leaving Marcus Peters to “cover,” Michael Thomas and being embarrassed most of the day, but Talib is back now and the Rams are hopeful he will be the difference this time around. The Rams have also added CJ Anderson which has proven to be successful and a great compliment to Gurley who has been playing through injuries. The Saints will also be without one of their best defensive player Sheldon Rankins after tearing his ACL in the divisional round. Rankins being out is big for the Saints, but have they have plenty of talent behind him and they also signed Tyrunn Walker this week as insurance.
It’s playoff time, and if there is one thing we can expect it is to expect the unexpected. Crazy never seen before things are bound to happen becoming instant highlight worthy and talked about forever. Legends will be born, and dreams will be shattered, because only one team can move forward. So once again we will take a look into the crystal ball and see what it predicts for this game.
1. This game will not be a shootout
Contrary to last game this game will not have as much offense or scoring. Both teams defenses started showing major improvements in the second half of the season as both offenses slowed down. The Rams will also be without their best possession receiver Cooper Kupp on IR the offense is not as efficient when he does not play. I am not a betting man, but if I did I would take the under in this game.
2.Aaron Donald will be quiet again.
In the first game the Saints prepared for Donald well and didn’t allow him to wreak havoc in the backfield and he had a very quiet game. The Saints have the best offensive line in the league when healthy, but the problem as of late for the group has been their health. All 5 starters started last week, but Andrus Peat played with a broken hand he sustained in the last regular season game and it showed as he was flagged 4 times. But, I am certain the coaches have considered this and made adjustments to maximize the lines blocking. This game will mark the first time a player with 20 sacks (Donald) will play against a passer (Brees) who has been sacked under 20 times.
3.The Saints will not start out flat like in the divisional round.
The Saints started out the last game like a team that had not played a meaningful game in weeks and were feeling a little rusty as they give up a quick 14 points to the Eagles. But, they righted the ship quick conquering adversity and having a huge team building moment. The Saints will come out fired up for this game, it also helps that Marcus Peters has given some bulletin board talk with his talk of having a bowl of gumbo with Coach Sean Payton after the game.
4.Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara will out perform Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson.
If the Saints are going to beat the Rams theyre going to need big contributions from their backfield and up until last weeks divisional playoff game the Rams run defense has been very suspect. Like most teams the focus will probably be on stopping Thomas and Kamara leaving the door wide open for Ingram to have a big game. The Rams offense goes whichever way Gurley goes, and if the defense is successful in shutting him down it will be a very long day for Goff and Co.
5.Ben Watson will have a big game.
Watson made it known earlier this season this will be his last one and he will retire when it is over. Watson wants to make his last game in the Dome to be one to remember he also said how important it is to his family that he wins a Superbowl. Everything seems primed for Watson to have a huge game and maybe even catching a game winning touchdown.
The Dome was as loud as it has ever been last week and with the big game on the line it will only get louder. The Rams are coming into a hostile environment with a young head coach playing against the best team in football on their turf. If you have any concerns or doubts about our boys you don’t need to things are going to be just fine. Saints 27 Rams 21