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What: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
When: Sunday, September 15 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Where: L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California
How (TV): FOX
Latest Point Spread: Saints +2.5, Rams -2.5
The 1-0 New Orleans Saints travel west on a short week to battle the 1-0 Los Angeles Rams in a matchup that fans have been waiting on since the end of last season when, by the grace of a referee’s blatantly missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship game, the Rams defeated the Saints in overtime and went on to play in (and lose) Super Bowl LIII.
Of course, the Saints want to prove with a win on Sunday that they are the better team who deserved to play in last year’s Big Game, while a win for the Rams would be further proof that they are more talented and capable of winning than their NFC rival, and fans of both teams are champing at the bit to see who is right.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these teams now ready for the 2019 season.
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The 2019 New Orleans Saints looked as good as ever in their Week 1 last minute win over the Houston Texans, with veteran quarterback (and future Hall of Famer) Drew Brees calmly taking his offense down the field with just seconds (and only one timeout) left in the game, setting up field goal kicker Wil Lutz for his 58-yard game winner.
Dual threat running back Alvin Kamara proved that his third year in the league will be just as productive as his last two, running the ball 13 times for 97 yards while catching 7 (of 8) targeted passes for 72 yards, though the team could have used a score (or two) from their speedy back.
The Saints’ defense could be their weakest link (again), allowing the Houston Texans to stay in the Week 1 game right to the end, though their pass coverage was effective, allowing just 80.2 yards through the air with five sacks – two from defensive end Trey Hendrickson and one each from end Cameron Jordan, linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback P.J. Williams.
For more info on the New Orleans Saints, check out this article: New Orleans Saints Biggest Offseason Moves
The Los Angeles Rams did not have an easy time defeating the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, mainly because they couldn’t figure out a defensive answer to Carolina’s number one (and only?) offensive weapon, running back Christian McCaffrey.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked less than Super Bowl-like in his 2019 debut, completing 23-of-29 passes (58.97 completion percentage, his lowest since his rookie season), one touchdown and one interception.
Running back Todd Gurley picked the team up in the fourth quarter and proved to the football world that he is not washed up (or severely injured) by any stretch, rushing 14 times for 97 yards, averaging 6.93 yards per carry, and giving his Rams a chance to win.
If you want to know more about the Rams, check out this article: Los Angeles Rams Biggest Offseason Moves
These two teams have met 76 total times (including 2 postseason games), with Los Angeles winning 42 of those games and New Orleans winning 34 games.
The Rams won in their last meeting in overtime (see above) but lost to the Saints during the regular 2018 season in New Orleans by a score of 35-45.
If the Saints win this matchup, they’ll be 2-0-0 and firmly in charge of the NFC South, a division they are expected to win this season, plus they’ll have proved that last year’s playoff loss should have been a win for them.
But if the Rams are victorious instead, the doubters will have to shut it and with a 2-0-0 record, Los Angeles will have a nice head start in the NFC West.
Who’s favored to win this Week 2 Saints-Rams matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Saints and the Rams next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing Attack: New Orleans’ passing attack is ranked 12th after one game, and Brees completed 74.4 percent of his passes (32-of-42) to tie his league-record in that category, set last season, after posting 370 yards through the air and 2 touchdowns with one pick in Week 1.
Brees spread the ball around to all his targets, with receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn both catching for 100+ yards and tight end Jared Cook and running back Alvin Kamara accounting for 100+ receiving yards between the two of them.
Good news for anyone doubting the Saints roster depth, their two passing touchdowns in Week 1 went to backup receiver Tre’Quan Smith and backup quarterback (and jack of all positions)Taysom Hill.
Rushing attack: The Saints running game in Week 1 was all Kamara, except he didn’t score any touchdowns, though it would be a big mistake to count on that to keep on happening.
Running back Latavius Murray didn’t seem to provide the second part of the 1-2 punch combo out of the backfield that Kamara and Mark Ingram had last season with just 6 touches for 43 yards.
Murray did have the Saints only touchdown on the ground and caught 2 of 3 targeted passes for 4 yards.
Listed as questionable for Week 2: no offensive Saints are listed as questionable for Week 2
Injury note: running back Matt Dayes (undisclosed) and center Cameron Tom (undisclosed) were both placed on injured reserve
Passing Attack: Head coach Sean McVay and his on-the-field eyes and arm Jared Goff had the 24th best passing attack in Week 1, which is excessively low for their capabilities.
The Rams posted just 183.0 total yards through the air for just one touchdown and an interception.
With a healthy Cooper Kupp back in the lineup and soft-handed running back Todd Gurley proving he can still catch the ball and run, the Rams should get dangerous through the air any time now.
Rushing Attack: At first, Gurley was slow out of the gate, but then he took over the Week 1 show and put his team in a position to win.
Malcolm Brown, his backup, averaged 4.8 yards per carry last week, rushing the ball 11 times for 53 yards, and, most importantly, for 2 touchdowns in the game.
The Rams were a top-five rushing offense last season, and if Gurley can stay healthy and Brown productive, Los Angeles should continue to be hazardous on the ground in 2019.
Listed as questionable for Week 2: currently no Rams offensive players are listed as questionable for Week 2.
Injury notes: wide receiver Alex Bachman (undisclosed) has been placed on injured reserve.
>> Offensive advantage: Right now, the New Orleans Saints (and their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback) have the slight offensive advantage, although both teams have enough playmakers to make this an even match.
Pass coverage: After just one game, the Saints are ranked 20th in pass coverage, allowing their Week 1 opponent, Russell Wilson of the Houston Texans, to gain 234.0 yards through the air.
New Orleans leads the league in sacks, with 6 of them so far, and they also have an interception.
Run coverage: The Saints shut down the Texans last week, allowing only 80.2 yards on the ground, ranked second in the league.
Middle linebacker Alex Anzalone and strong safety Vonn Bell led the team in solo tackles last week, each with 5, with Bell combining for 2 more.
For combined tackles, keep your eye on strong safety Vonn Bell in the secondary, who already has seven of them.
If it’s quarterback hunting you prefer, watch defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who had 2.0 in his Week 1 game along with 3 tackles.
Free safety Marcus Williams already has an interception, 3 passes defended and 2 tackles, so he’s worth keeping track of.
Listed as questionable for Week 2: linebacker Craig Robertson (hamstring), defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (Achilles) and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (hamstring)
Injury notes: linebackers Colton Jumper (undisclosed) and Chase Hansen (undisclosed) have both been placed on the injured reserve.
Pass coverage: The Rams were ranked 21st in pass protection last week after allowing their opponents to throw for 216.0 yards in the air.
Los Angeles had one interception and 3 sacks as a defensive squad in Week 1.
Run coverage: Los Angeles struggled against the run in Week 1, ranking 24th in that category after allowing the Panthers (mainly McCaffrey) to run for 127.0 yards in one game.
The Rams were 10th overall against the run by the end of last season, so it shouldn’t be long for them to pick this part of their game up.
Check out inside linebacker Cory Littleton, a hard-hitting hustler who had 14 tackles in Week 1.
Littleton also has an interception and 3 passes defended from that same game, so you know he will be busy against Brees and company on Sunday.
If it is sacks you’re looking for, see defensive end Dante Fowler, who has 2.0 of them from just one game along with 2 tackles.
Don’t be fooled by defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s quiet game in Week 1, he is still (arguably?) the best player in the league and always worth watching.
Listed as questionable for Week 2: safety Eric Weddle (concussion), though head coach Sean McVay told the media he is hopeful Weddle will play.
Injury note: linebackers Josh Carraway (Achilles), Trevor Young (undisclosed) and Justin Lawler (foot) have all been placed on injured reserve.
>> Defensive advantage: After just one week, the Saints have a slight advantage on defense, but if the Rams’ Aaron Darnold has a big game on Sunday (and he usually does), Brees could be in big trouble in the backfield.
New Orleans’ punter, Thomas Morstead, is in his twelfth NFL season, all with the Saints, and last week he punted 2 times for a net average of 44.0 yards per punt, which was the 11th best in the league.
Los Angeles’ punter, Johnny Hekker, is in his ninth NFL season, fifth with the Rams, and last week he punted 3 times for a net average of 28.5 yards per punt, which was the 31st best in the league.
New Orleans’ rookie placekicker, Wil Lutz, is in his fifth NFL season, all with the Saints.
Lutz was 3-of-4 in Week 1, his longest a game winning 58-yarder and he missed zero extra point attempts (3/3).
Los Angeles’ placekicker, Greg Zuerlein, is in his ninth NFL season, his fifth with the Rams.
Zuerlein was 3-of-4 last week, his longest a 56-yarder, and he missed zero extra point attempts (3/3).
New Orleans’ punt returner, wide receiver Deonte Harris, was ranked 13th in average punt return yardage last week.
Harris returned 3 punts for 20 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per, his longest for 15 yards.
Los Angeles’ punt returner, wide receiver JoJo Natson, was ranked 9th in average punt return yardage last week.
Natson returned 2 punts for 19 yards, averaging 9.50 yards per, his longest for 16 yards.
>> Special team advantage: Both teams would be equal except the Saints’ punter had a better Week 1 – advantage New Orleans.
Ever since last postseason, this game has become personal to the New Orleans Saints, and though they won’t win it by much, they will win this game by hitting the Rams hard with a balanced attack on the ground and through the air.
Brees wants another Super Bowl ring and is definitely in the zone already, and with the targets he is surrounded by that is bad news for a Rams pass defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league (21st) in Week 1.
The Saints’ placekicker, Lutz, proved he is money last week and he will be the difference in this close game.
The Los Angeles Rams will win their home opener because they are not the team who will be traveling across the country on a short week, that’s the Saints.
McVay and Goff are just getting started, and once the rust is knocked off their air attack and the Gurley / Brown two-headed monster begins to form a legitimate threat in the RPO, the Rams will once again be mostly unstoppable in the regular season.
The talented Rams won’t win this one by much but their post-Super Bowl confidence bolstered by their Week 1 win will be tough to get past.
>> This game goes to the: The New Orleans Saints by 2 points.
Check out the latest odds here, provided by New Jersey sportsbooks.
|Sportsbook||New Orleans Saints||Los Angeles Rams|
|Fox Bet NJ||+120||-137|
|Sportsbook||NO Saints +2.5||LA Rams -2.5|
|Fox Bet NJ||+100||-118|
|Sportsbook||Over 52.5||Under 52.5|
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Saints 33, Rams 30
My prediction is take the over, final score Saints 30, Rams 28.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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