New Orleans Saints: What To Watch For In Week 15 vs. St. Louis Rams
New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams: 5 Things To Watch For
Just because the 2013 NFL season is winding down does not mean the action and drama is beginning to wind down as well. If anything, the action and intensity is just starting to get warmed up. The different franchises have just three games remaining on the schedule to help them get into the postseason or to settle their playoff seeding.
The Denver Broncos shocked everyone on Thursday night, as they took on the San Diego Chargers at home in Mile High Stadium and lost. The Broncos still have the best record in the AFC, but are no longer in sole control of their seeding future. After having lost to the New England Patriots just a few weeks ago, the Patriots control their playoff seeding destiny and the road to the Super Bowl might just travel through New England on the AFC side.
At this point and time, it is looking like the Cincinnati Bengals will win the AFC North and the Patriots will take the AFC South. The Broncos have already locked up a playoff spot, while the Indianapolis Colts have guaranteed themselves one, too. Seeding is still a question obviously, as are the two wild card teams.
The Kansas City Chiefs will have a strong chance at making it into the playoffs as a wild card, having a 10-3 record, but also have two losses to division leader Broncos. That leaves the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and San Diego in the hunt for the wild card slots.
The NFC is not nearly as figured out as the AFC is, with only the Seattle Seahawks having clinched a playoff spot thus far. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are both tied with a 7-6 record, but Detroit has a better division record and two head-to head wins against the Bears.
Philadelphia has an 8-5 lead in the NFC East ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, but Dallas has a 4-0 division record. The New York Giants are below .500 while the Washington Redskins are in a free fall, with second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III having been benched for Sunday’s game in favor of Kirk Cousins.
The New Orleans Saints are in control of whether or not they take the NFC South title, and the Carolina Panthers looks as if they will make the postseason as a wild card team.
Speaking of New Orleans, here are five things to look out for in as the Saints go on the road to take on the St. Louis Rams in Week 15.
5. St. Louis' Dynamic Pass Rushing Duo
The Saints need to be aware of the Rams' dynamic pass-rushing duo, Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Quinn is second in the league with 13 sacks while Long has 6.5 to call his own. In a way, their skill sets and ability to pressure quarterbacks, make sacks and cause early throws resembles another pass rushing duo Saints fans should be familiar with.
4. New Orleans Also Has Two Pass Rushers Of Their Own
Do not forget that New Orleans has a dynamic duo of their own: Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. Jordan is fourth in the league with 11.5 sacks and Galette is not far behind with nine. Both are having breakout seasons and seem to compliment each other well, causing pressure, destroying passing pockets and just generally being disruptive.
3. Tavon Austin Questionable To Play, But Dangerous If He Does
First-year Rams receiver Tavon Austin is listed as questionable for Week 15, but if he does play, the Saints' defense needs to take notice.
Austin has nine receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns over the last four games. As the team's punt returner, he has also returned 33 punts for 280 yards and a touchdown as well.
While Jordan and Galette are trying to disrupt passing plays and get to the quarterback, the Saints' secondary needs to keep an eye on this young up-and-coming receiver.
2. The Last Time New Orleans Played Here ...
The last time New Orleans played here in 2011, they came in 5-2 against a Rams team that had been downright horrible the entire season. The next thing you know, four quarters had gone by and the Saints lost 31-21.
Look for Sean Payton, Rob Ryan and Drew Brees to be prepared for this one and be ready to execute.
1. Saints Could Solidify NFC South And Playoff Seeding With Win
A win against the Rams will only further strengthen New Orleans' hopes of taking the NFC South and going no lower than the no. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. If the Saints can avoid their mistakes from 2011, New Orleans will be looking good heading into Week 16 for a road game against the Panthers.