The Los Angeles Rams did everything they needed to last week against the Washington Commanders, but now playing on a short week, the team will need to empty the tank in a de facto elimination game against the New Orleans Saints. With such a big game on tap for both teams, the league picked a heck of a Thursday Night Football matchup this week. Here’s a look at the New Orleans Saints.
Rams vs Saints on Thursday Night Football
Saints Playoff Situation
The New Orleans Saints sit at 7-7 and have two paths to make the playoffs. The NFC South is still up for grabs as the Saints are tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 7-7. The Saints could nab a playoff spot by winning the division or sneaking into the Wild Card. Currently, they sit in the ninth seed but can jump all the way into the fourth seed (perhaps only temporarily) with a win over the Rams.
If the Buccaneers lose this week, the Saints will be in the lead for a home playoff game. As such, there’s an inordinate amount of pressure on the team this week. If they lose, they could drop further in both chases. However, if they win, they could jump five spots on the playoff chart. Additionally, according to the NFL playoff picture, the Saints have a 70% chance to make the playoffs if they win. If they lose, their odds drop to 22%.
Rams vs Saints Offense
Derek Carr picked a heck of a time to have his best game of the season. In last week’s game against the New York Giants, Carr threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions for the first time in his Saints career. He had thrown for two touchdowns several times before, but never three. As such, the odds are high that Carr will drop less than three touchdowns against the Rams.
Over the last few weeks, a pattern has emerged with teams where big breakout performances have followed or pre-empted weak performances. The Giants’ ugly loss to Derek Carr came one week after defeating the surging Green Bay Packers in primetime. The Las Vegas Raiders were shut out one week and then dropped 63 on the Los Angeles Chargers.
With Carr coming off a strong performance, it seems that he’s due for a similar slip-up on Thursday Night Football.
Rams Vs Saints Defense
While the offense has been humming along in a cleaner gear, the Saints defense has been shutting down teams over the last two weeks. The Carolina Panthers and New York Giants have put up a combined 12 points. However, the defense isn’t invincible as just one week before the unit started their run, they gave up 33 points to Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions on December 3rd.
With the Rams playing as well on offense as they have since winning the Super Bowl, expectations are that Matthew Stafford‘s offense produces numbers much closer to the production of Jared Goff than Bryce Young and Tommy DeVito.
However, the feel of the game goes above statistics and recent trends. With so much on the line for both teams, the game could be a battle of attrition. Which team is more focused and hungry for the playoffs? That’s the team that’s going to win a game that easily could become a battle of wills, score be damned.