NFL Game of the Week: Saints vs. Rams
The best game in Week 12’s slate is a matchup of two of the most surprising teams in the league as the New Orleans Saints travel to face the Los Angeles Rams.
Coming into this season, the Rams and Saints weren’t expected to be among the best in the NFC, but they are currently leading their respective divisions and challenging for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
New Orleans is the hottest teams in the NFL right now as they are heading in Week 12 with an eight-game winning streak after starting the season 8-2. The Saints erased a 15-point deficit in the final minutes to eventually beat Washington in overtime.
Drew Brees was dynamic in the fourth quarter as he finished with 385 yards and two touchdowns. But the real engine of this offense is the combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara at running back. The two backs combined for 271 total yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams led by new Head Coach Sean McVay are currently leading the NFC West with a record of 7-3. However, Los Angeles is coming off a tough 24-7 loss to Minnesota in a battle of division leaders.
Jared Goff was productive with 225 yards, but was unable to find the endzone. Minnesota did a great job of slowing down Todd Gurley as he only finished with 37 yards and the Rams lone touchdown.
These two teams will matchup as surprise division leaders and as the season winds down, both New Orleans and Los Angeles are fighting for a first round bye.
Saints’ Offense vs. Rams’ Defense
The Saints offense is still run by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Brees is one of the all-time greats at the quarterback position and he is having another phenomenal season this year. He ranks top five in both passing yards (2,763) and completion percentage (71.6%).
However, the key to New Orleans new found success is the establishment of a consistent run game this year. Running back Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have been the best duo in the NFL. Ingram is fourth in the league in rushing yards with 806 and he has added eight touchdowns.
Rookie Alvin Kamara has taken the league by storm. He has been dynamic as a rusher and a receiver. Kamara has 459 rushing yards and 447 receiving yards, along with seven total touchdowns. Kamara is considered one of the frontrunners for rookie of year.
The Rams defense has been a little inconsistent this season, but has a superstar on the defensive line in Aaron Donald. The fourth-year player out of Pittsburgh is arguably the best defensive lineman in the NFL. While he only has four sacks this season, Donald has been dominant in the run game.
The Los Angeles secondary ranks No. 10 against the pass, allowing 211.7 passing yards per game. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson is the leader of the secondary and he has been really good this season with two interceptions.
Rams’ Offense vs. Saints’ Defense
The Rams offense has made a complete turnaround from last season. Los Angeles was one of the worst offenses in the league last season, but now they rank second in the league with 30.3 points per game.
Quarterback Jared Goff has made huge strides this year from his rookie season. Goff is among top ten in the league in passing yards and touchdowns. Coach Sean McVay has made a huge difference for Goff and the Rams offense this season. Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods have been huge upgrades for Goff compared to last season.
However, running back Todd Gurley is the focal point of the Rams’ offense. Gurley is one of the most dynamic backs in the league. He has over 1,000 yards from scrimmage already and a total of 12 touchdowns.
New Orleans’ defense was expected to be a weakness for them, but after a weak start, they have been really good during their eight-game winning streak. They have improved to No. 13 in the league in yards allowed per game, which is a huge improvement from past seasons.
The Saints front seven has done a great job of getting after the opposing quarterback, led by Cameron Jordan. Jordan is one of the best defensive ends in the league and he has eight sacks on the season.
The best player on the New Orleans’ defense might be a rookie. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been superb for a Saints secondary that was one of the worst in the league the past several seasons. Unfortunately, Lattimore suffered an injury against Washington this past week and his status for Sunday afternoon is in question.
Both the Saints and Rams are two of the top three scoring teams in the league and have plenty of star power on both sides of the ball. The coaching matchup between McVay and Sean Payton should be intriguing to watch.
This game seems to be a toss-up as ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives the Rams a 50.6% chance to win this game. This matchup should be wildly entertaining and high-scoring, but with the Rams being at home, that is the difference in the game between two division leaders.
Prediction: Los Angeles 35, New Orleans 31
Camden Tofil is a freshman majoring in advertising/public relations. To contact him, email email@example.com.