New Orleans Saints

Pick of the Week: A close look at the Saints-Rams battle

Saints fans march through city to boycott Super Bowl

New Orleans Saints fans still aren't over the officiating in the NFC Championship, as the took to the streets to protest the Rams taking on the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
Up Next
New Orleans Saints fans still aren't over the officiating in the NFC Championship, as the took to the streets to protest the Rams taking on the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

New Orleans +2.5 @ LA Rams

I like the Saints to continue as a strong road team this year.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara looks as explosive as ever and the team’s record away from home has only got better over the last 2 seasons. They are 10-6 against the spread on the road since 2017, and I think that coincides with the improvements that they made to their offensive line, running game, and defense. They are no longer the classic “soft, dome team.” They’re still treated like a dominant dome team, but they’ve really evolved away from that.

It’s also rare to get New Orleans as an underdog. They were only in that spot three times last year and they won all of them.

While the Rams have the best defensive player in the world on their D-line, they have struggled to stop the run the last two seasons, yielding 4.8 yards a carry in 2018 and 4.7 in 2017, both of which rank near the bottom of the league. I think its partly due to Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s aggressiveness to get to the QB, and that sometimes leads to wide running lanes for the right type of backs. The Saints feel unstoppable when they are running the ball with efficiency and quarterback Drew Brees is getting the ball out fast. They eat up time of possession as they methodically move the ball down the field.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas will probably see a lot of Rams cornerback Aqib Talib, which I think will encourage Brees to use his other speedy receivers in mismatches.

The Rams’ other cornerback, Marcus Peters, was absolutely destroyed in the regular season matchup a season ago. I’d be shocked if Saints coach Sean Payton doesn’t draw up specific plays to use his aggressiveness against him.

The Saints still feel like the Rams robbed their Super Bowl season from them a year ago so I think the revenge factor will be real.

The Saints were awful in the red zone in the playoff loss as they had numerous opportunities to turn the game into a blowout in the first half. Don’t expect them to make that mistake again. The Saints were also the best team against the run last year, and they are coming off a poor performance against Houston.

I think that will draw more attention to the issue to slow down the Rams running game. Consequently, this should mitigate Goff’s play action deep cross throws, which are his most effective by far. Goff has made some poor decisions against aggressive, turnover-forcing defenses like the Bears, Patriots, and these Saints. Opportunities for turnovers should be there.

Eric Ollila writes for Shoresteinsays.com, a website dedicated to pro football analysis & predictions. Visit the website for more information on how to sign up for the 2019 Weekly Newsletter.
  Comments