Gus Kattengell’s Saints Report — Rams Game
A win and you’re in. The New Orleans Saints can clinch a playoff berth by virtue of beating the St. Louis Rams but to do so they’ll have to do something that’s proven difficult for some reason and that’s winning a game on the road.
Sure the Rams 5-8 record may seem as if the Saints should go ahead look towards the Panthers rematch in Charlotte next week but that would be a mistake. The Saints won in 2009 by the score of 28-23 in a hard fought game and then lost their last trip.
New Orleans is 7-0 at home but 3-3 on the road this season and the difference from when they are in the dome just isn’t in the win-loss record. The Saints at home score an average of 32.9 points per game while on the road score just 18.8 points. The defense gives up an average of just 15.4 points per game in the Dome while on the road it goes up to 22.5 points. Even quarterback Drew Brees plays differently as he has thrown 23 of his 33 touchdowns at home while tossing five of his eight interceptions on the road.
St. Louis is playing without franchise quarterback Sam Bradford who suffered a season ending knee injury earlier in the season. Kellen Clemens has filled in admirably at times but in the last two games has thrown one TD and three interceptions.
NOT SO FOND MEMORIES
October 30, 2011 was the last time the New Orleans Saints traveled to play in St. Louis and it wasn’t a fun time. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sacked six times and threw a pair of interceptions to go along with just one touchdown. The Rams controlled the game jumping out to an early 17-0 lead at halftime.
Rams defensive end Chris Long had a solid game by recording three of those sacks. Long this week told New Orleans reporters that getting a 17-0 lead helped his defensive line take over the game. “Absolutely, back in 2011 we didn’t have many leads. I would say that was just the day it just came together for us and for whatever reason it was against a really good team,” said Long. “Once we got rolling that day and we did force Drew (Brees) to be a little more one dimensional. We had a pretty good defensive line when it came to rushing the passer back then.”
Long has six and a half sacks this season but definitely has the attention of Saints head coach Sean Payton. ““He plays with a great motor. He’s very talented. He’s explosive,” Payton says of Long. “The snap that you get on play number four, you’re going to get that same energy, that same ability to get off on the snap count on play number 34. He goes extremely hard. He’s very smart. He plays with very good leverage. You see him get on the edge of tackles. You see him rush with power. You see him rush with speed. He presents a lot of challenges.”
Long will be a challenge for right tackle Zach Strief but facing tackle Charles Brown this go around most of the time will be the NFL’s second leading sacker defensive end Robert Quinn. Quinn has 13 sacks this season.
The Rams defense as a whole has Brees’ full attention heading into this game. “Their whole defensive front, including their defensive ends, (Chris) Long and (Robert) Quinn have done a great year all long of getting pressure on the quarterback,” Brees says. “They are a great tandem, one of the best in the league. They have some young talent in the secondary, a lot of young guys, but they play with good instincts and they have good ball skills. The linebackers are led by James Laurinitis, who is an extremely smart, tough guy. You can see him running the show out there, getting everyone lined up, making the checks, (and) all that stuff. You know he’s an extremely tough guy. You put all those things together and it makes a pretty formidable defense.”
HOW I SEE IT
A huge key to me is which defensive line outplays the other. Lots of rightful attention is being paid to the Rams front line with Long and Quinn but the Saints defensive line is pretty good as well. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan has 11.5 sacks and linebacker Junior Galette has nine and the duo combined for five last week in the win over Carolina.
The Saints as team leads the NFC in bringing down the quarterback with 43 total sacks and Clemens has been sacked 18 times since taking over for Bradford.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher leads the NFL’s youngest team and it’s a big reason they have played inconsistent. The youthfulness also can provide for the energy needed to bring about an upset. I expect the Rams to come out with fire and try to make this a game. It’s simple for the Saints. If you don’t turn the ball over the Saints will win the game.
They are the superior team and St. Louis’ only chance is to get a few gift points from turnovers. The chance at getting closer to securing the NFC’s second seed, which happens with a Saints win and Panthers loss, I feel is enough for New Orleans to pick up the win. Payton and the players also have been harping on the need to prove that this team can win on the road and hey there are least in a dome right?
Saints win 34-13.