There is a lot at stake for the New Orleans Saints in their Week 15 matchup against the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis. Win, and their chances of claiming the the NFC South and getting the No. 2 NFC seed in the playoffs heavily favor them; lose, and the Week 16 rivalry game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte means that much more to both parties involved.
The Saints have played relatively well all year, despite a crushing loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 and two other road losses to the New England Patriots and New York Jets. Quarterback Drew Brees is second in passing yards and touchdowns thrown on the year and tight end Jimmy Graham has an NFL-leading 14 touchdown receptions as well as 1,046 receiving yards.
Under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, New Orleans’ defense has drastically improved and righted the wrongs from their disastrous outing last season. Overall, Ryan’s defense is rated sixth overall and has improved in all areas of the defensive side of the game. Additionally, the defense has been buoyed by by the fantastic, break out play play of Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette.
The powerful, pass-rushing Jordan is fourth in the NFL with 11.5 sacks on the season, while his quicker compliment in Galette is 14th with nine. On top of their combined 20.5 sacks, the duo routinely help disrupt opposing quarterbacks by creating pressure, making hits and generally causing havoc.
Despite all of this, the Saints will be on the road playing against a team that defeated them just two seasons ago. I remember that game well, it was the first NFL game I had ever been to. New Orleans lost 31-21 and Brees was sacked multiple times. This season, the Rams have a dynamic pass-rushing duo in defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn. The latter is second in sacks this season with 13 while Long has 6.5 of his own.
They also mimic Jordan and Galette, in that one is speedy and elusive while the other is powerful and strong. New Orleans’ offensive line has played well for the most part this year, but the two Rams’ defensive ends could cause trouble and disrupt the Saints’ plans.
However, do not expect Long and Quinn to be a major factor this time around. I have full faith and confidence that Sean Payton and Brees will be fully prepared for the match up this time. Look for New Orleans to improve to 11-3.
I almost guarantee it.