One of the bigger showdowns between the 6-1 Saints and the 7-0 Rams is right around the corner. This used to be one of the bigger rivalries in the NFL when the Rams and Saints shared a division. The Az Hakim botched punt return is one of the most memorable. A lot has changed since that time, but the rivalry could be reborn after this Sunday. For the Saints to be successful, there are certain things that need to happen.
Very much like the Vikings game last week, the offense has to maintain positive time of possession. Many times people want the big gain every single play, but throwing the 5-15 yard pass plays are the plays that set teams up to win in the 4th quarter. The short passing game is very much like an efficient running game. It keeps you on pace towards getting 1st downs while also fatiguing the defense. A tired defense is a great way to lose the game & win if you are facing them. Luckily the short to intermediate passing game is where Drew Brees excels. The running game has to get going too so that the team is not predictable on offense. With the Rams cheat code is the defensive line, the Saints cant afford to give them the advantage of knowing what types of plays are coming. The running game also controls the clock, and we all know that the team that controls the clock is in the role of dictator. If the Saints play the dictatorship role then quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley become observers. No matter how bad the Saints defense has been in the past, they never got dominated by anyone on the outside looking in.
The Saints defense is the key to the game as well, even though the expectations aren’t that high because they are facing off vs a high powered offense similar to their own. Being realistic, the Rams will make plays on offense & convert for 1st downs. The key is to slow them down and to let the Nola offense extend a lead, or at least keep the game close. The biggest way to do this is to generate pressure on Jared Goff. If he’s comfortable, than he will be feasting like an early Thanksgiving. Food in New Orleans is amazing, but he is going have to go hungry or settle for the scraps. While Gurley is almost match up proof, tacklers need to get to him before he can get momentum going and tackle gang style taking away an escape route from the backfield. The defensive backfield is the unit that will be effected by the pass rush most. Eli Apple played well for such short notice last week due to a mid week trade. Hopefully he can continue progress and hold his own. The third cornerback play is crucial, as all Rams starting receivers can play the slot position well. The best that can be hoped for is if a play is given up, then a play must be made to even things out like last week with PJ Williams. I know easier said than done, but that’s the vision that needs to be had before success happens.
A rivalry is reborn for maybe a day, maybe even longer depending on how the game goes. The records and caliber of play both teams have played at this year heightens the anticipation of how the game plays out. This Rams team is very much like a throwback of the greatest show on turf team from the early 2000s. They have a Quarterback that can distribute to 3 above average wide receivers who always seem open with an elite all purpose running back followed by an undersized yet fast defense. With that said, they are a great team, yet still beatable…history shows it. Whooo Dat!!!!!