3 Reasons Why the New Orleans Saints Will Beat the Rams
Get your popcorn ready for what should be another outstanding weekend of football. Only four teams remain in the battle for the Lombardi Trophy and it would be hard for anyone to argue that they aren’t the four best. After all, it is No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the AFC and No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the NFC. The latter pits two teams that have already seen each other once before. Will this one go any better for the Rams than their previous visit to New Orleans? Well, probably not. Let’s take a look at three factors why the New Orleans Saints Will Beat the Rams.
This is a rematch—in the same building, too—of a Week 9 showdown. To say that one did not end well for the Rams would be a gross understatement. In fact, it’s the main reason why they have to go back on the road and make another trip to New Orleans instead of hosting this one at L.A. Coliseum. On Nov. 4, the Saints reeled off three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter and had 35 points by halftime en route to a 45-35 victory. A well-balanced N.O. attack racked up 346 yards through the air and 141 on the ground. If either team has improved since that point in time, it is the Saints not the Rams.
“Getting a chance to feel what a tough atmosphere that is to play in where I think there’s a lot of times a fear of the unknown, and now that we kind of know what to expect with a great crowd and how that’s going to have to alter some of the different things that we’ll do specific to offense, some of our communication,” Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay explained. “We can use that as a positive, but we know it’s going to be a great challenge…. It’s a great opportunity for us. I think it’s something that when you get a chance to play for one game away, that’s exactly why you do all this hard work. We’re going to go there and give it our best shot.”
It is true that the Saints have lost inside the Superdome twice this season, but the first setback came way back in Week 1 (to a Tampa Bay team that started the 2018 campaign completely on fire from an offensive standpoint) and the next came in a meaningless Week 17 date with Carolina in which New Orleans’ starters were benched. In the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era, this franchise is 6-0 at home in the playoffs. By comparison, the Saints are 1-5 on the road in the playoffs during this era. Needless to say, home-field advantage could not be any more crucial for this team. It worked out well for the Saints back in November and it will likely pay similar dividends on Sunday.
Brees vs. Goff
The Rams played from ahead most of the way against Dallas and were able to pound the rock on a consistent basis with a steady diet of Todd Gurley and T.J Anderson. They won’t be able to do that on Sunday. When the visitors are likely to find themselves trailing on the scoreboard much if not most of the way. That means it could be an air show between Brees and Jared Goff, and does not take a genius to figure out who would have the edge in that matchup.
Moreover, Goff is still without one of his favorite targets in wide receiver Cooper Kupp (sidelined since early November with a knee injury). Brees, on the other hand, still has Michael Thomas at his disposal. Thomas, a second-round pick out of Ohio State in 2016, hauled in 125 passes for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season. Brees says the 25-year-old has taken off in 2018-19 thanks to a better understanding of the offense.
“Michael’s always been a really strong, highly competitive, raw-type receiver,” the 40-yea-old noted. “But when he learned to develop the patience with the routes, and understanding of the timing of when the ball’s going to be there. Like, ‘Hey, Mike, don’t get your head around now, I’m not ready to throw the ball to you yet.’ Working together, talking through concepts, and then just the repetition, I’d say that’s where he’s made the biggest jump, even from last year to this year. He’s always had the competitiveness, the work ethic, the fire. But it’s the polish.”