Sunday afternoon pits possibly the 2 best teams in the NFC against each other. The Rams lead the all time series 41-32, and the Rams got the better of the Saints last season in LA.
The undefeated Rams survived the Packers last week 29-27. In week 6, the Rams defeated the Broncos 23-20, and beat down the 49ers 39-10 in week 7. The Saints have won 6 straight, including a 30-20 win over Minnesota last Sunday night. In week 5, they dominated the Redskins 43-19, had a bye in week 6, and survived the Ravens 24-23 in week 7.
GTBets currently has the Saints as 1.5 point favourites, with an O/U of 60.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams appeared destined to be on the losing side of another Aaron Rodgers game winning drive when they kicked a field goal to take a 2 point lead with just over 2 minutes left, but a fumble on the kickoff by the Packers handed the Rams the W. Jared Goff started slow, but was excellent down the stretch making big throws. He finished with 295 yards and 3 TDs on 19/35 passing. Still without Cooper Kupp, the Rams got huge contributions from Todd Gurley (6/81/1), Brandin Cooks (3/74/0), Josh Reynolds (3/42/2), and Robert Woods (5/70/0). Gurley also had a slow start to the game, but salted the game away in the end with some clutch runs, finishing with 25 carries for 114 yards.
Aaron Donald was a terror again, totalling 2 sacks and 2 other QB hits. Outside of Donald, the Rams pass rush struggled, but should be bolstered by the addition of edge rusher Dante Fowler. Cory Littleton is a rising star and had a sack as well as 6 tackles at the line of scrimmage. Coverage is still a bit of an issue, as Marcus Peters and Troy Hill allowed 221 yards on 10 catches combined.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
WR Cooper Kupp (knee) – questionable
New Orleans Saints
The Saints controlled the game against Minnesota in the 2nd half, but Drew Brees was stifled by Minnesota’s secondary. Brees averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt, completing 18/23 passes for 120 yards, a TD, and an INT. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas continue to be the main beneficiaries of Brees production. Kamara caught 7 balls for 31 yards and a TD, while Thomas caught 5 balls for 81 yards. Taysom Hill continues to be involved, completing a deep ball to Thomas for 44 yards on the first drive of the game. He also caught a ball for 5 yards, and ran 3 times for -2 yards, playing 11 snaps at tight end, 4 at QB, and 3 as a WR. The 2 headed rushing attack of Kamara and Melvin Ingram was potent as ever, rushing 13 times each for 108 yards combined.
The Saints have a variety of pass rushers, and that was demonstrated Sunday against a bad Minnesota O line. Sheldon Rankins and rookie Marcus Davenport each had 2 sacks, and Cam Jordan is always a threat to take down opposing QBs. Marshon Lattimore has been better as of late, but the duo of P.J. Williams and Eli Apple struggled. Williams had an interception, but allowed catches on 8 of 9 targets into his coverage for 114 yards and 2 TDs, while Apple allowed a perfect 8 of 8 targets to be caught in his coverage for 79 yards.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
No notable injuries
The Rams played their worst half of offensive football all season, and still ended up with 29 points. The Packers game plan had Goff confused for his life in the first half, but I don’t see the Saints being creative enough or talented enough in the back end to do the same thing. Outside of last week and a few lapses against Denver, the Rams offensive line has neutralized opposing pass rushes, and if Goff has time, the Saints are going to be diced up. The Rams do a lot of moving around with their WRs to find favorable matchups, and the only real coverage option the Saints have is Lattimore. The Saints are tough against the run, but that hasn’t slowed down Todd Gurley in the past.
The Saints offense is a juggernaut in itself, and running the ball can be the Rams Achilles heel. The Saints can control the clock and keep the ball away from Goff and Gurley by ground and pounding with Kamara and Ingram, while taking some opportunistic shots to Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith. Aaron Donald has the ability to completely break open opposing teams gameplans, and the addition of Dante Fowler should help the pass rush, but they can be neutralized in the run game. The Rams are definitely due to lose a game down the stretch, but they are very good on the road in McVays tenure and we don’t see an L coming against a shaky Saints D. Shop around and see if you can get this number at 2 or 2.5, but I’m rolling with the Rams until they prove otherwise.
Final Pick: Rams (+1.5)