Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#283 New Orleans Saints 54 vs.
#284 Los Angeles Rams -1.5
Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 4:25pm EDT
Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles
Written by Adam Rauzino

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The Los Angeles Rams will host the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in one of the most captivating games on the week two schedule. These NFC foes have sparked up a heated rivalry. The Saints struck the first blow after recording a 45-35 home win in week nine last season. The Rams got the last laugh by returning the favor with a thrilling 26-23 overtime win at the Superdome in the NFC Championship in a game that featured a controversial call.

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

New Orleans Saints Review

Last season the Saints opened the season with a disappointing home loss to the Buccaneers before posting a spectacular 10 game winning streak. This year the Saints avoided a week one loss with a big second half to propel a 30-28 home win over a strong Houston Texans squad on a buzzer-beating 58-year field goal by Wil Lutz.

Drew Brees was outstanding in the winning effort, converting on 32 of 43 pass attempts for 370 yards with two touchdowns against one interception. The 19-year veteran QB showed he is still one of the elite QB’s of the NFL by registering 3992 passing yards with a sparkling 32:5 TD to INT ratio in 2018. Brees tossed four touchdown passes in the regular-season meeting against the Rams last season.

The Saints’ offensive stars came up big last week. Alvin Kamara made the most of his 13 carries by accumulating 97 rushing yards accompanied with 72 receiving yards. New addition Latavius Murray posted 39 rushing yards and one TD in his Saints debut. Lastly, Brees’ favorite target Michael Thomas amassed 123 receiving yards on 10 catches. The Saints high-powered offense is again among the best in the NFL.

The Saints were road warriors last season, winning seven of their eight road games with their lone road blemish a 13-10 defeat to the Cowboys.

Los Angeles Rams Review

It wasn’t easy but the Los Angeles Rams came away with a hard-fought 30-27 road win against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in their season opener in a game that had the Rams favored by 1.5 points. Jared Goff wasn’t at his best, connecting on 23 of 39 passes for 186 yards. The 24-year old QB had a career-year in 2018, accumulating 4688 passing yards with a 32:12 TD to INT ratio. Goff tallied three touchdown passes in the loss to the Saints in week nine last year.

The dynamic Todd Gurley II was a force last week, collecting 94 rushing yards on 14 rush attempts, resulting in an average of 6.9 yards per carry, while Malcolm Brown registered 53 rushing yards. Brown should see his fair should of carries on the ground this season.

The Rams offense played half of the 2018 season in the absence of talented receiver Cooper Kupp. The third-year WR had a strong season debut, bringing in seven receptions for 49 yards. L.A.’s offense passed their test against a strong Panthers defense with flying colors.

The Rams win came at a price as safety Eric Weddle is listed as day-to-day with a concussion. “When you lose somebody like him, it can be deflating,” McVay said.

The Rams are back at home in this one where they went 7-1 in regular-season play with the lone loss occurring against the Eagles.

New Orleans Saints Offense vs. Los Angeles Rams Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense

The Saints return the potent Alvin Kamara on the ground, however, Mark Ingram II departed for Baltimore in the offseason. The Saints then signed veteran Latavius Murray who spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. The 29-year old RB had a solid debut, rushing for 43 yards on six rush attempts including one big touchdown.

“They’ve done some really good things together,” Murray said of the Kamara-Ingram duo. “But I haven’t taken the approach of replacing anyone. I know I’ve got to be the man and I can be, play the way I know how to play and make sure that I’m going out there and doing my thing so I can be beneficial to this team.”

Alvin Kamara picked up right where he left off last season, accumulating 97 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards last week. The 24-year old RB averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season, and he racked up 14 rushing touchdowns.

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense

The Rams rushing defense did have some holes last season as evidenced in their average of 122 yards per game against. Los Angeles had some trouble stopping Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey last week, surrendering 128 yards on 19 rush attempts.

The Rams rush defense has a different look after Ndamukong Suh, who is arguably the best-run stuffer in the NFL, signed with the Bucs. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was quiet in week one, making only one tackle with no sacks against the Panthers. The 28-year old is one of the most intimating defensive players in the entire NFL.

The Rams bought in veteran Clay Matthews from the Packers. Matthews is solid against the run, and the 33-year old linebacker made 43 tackles for Green Bay last year, and three tackles in his Rams debut last week. Matthews is questionable for this one with a back injury.

Who Has the Edge?

The Rams no longer have Ndamukong Suh, and they ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2018. Alvin Kamara along with Latavius Murray should be able to generate significant yardage on the ground. Kamara was limited to only 15 rushing yards last year’s NFL Championship game, although he registered 82 yards in the week nine meeting. L.A.’s rush defense was vulnerable last week, allowing 127 yards to McCaffery and the Panthers.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

New Orleans Saints Passing Offense

Led by future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, the Saints passing game is a force to be reckoned with. Brees should be able to reach approximately 4000 passing yards and at least 30 TD’s this season. The 40-year old QB had a big second half last week, and he finished with a terrific 370 passing yards with two touchdowns.

The Saints relied on #1 WR Michael Thomas heavily last season. The 26-year old collected a tremendous 1405 passing yards last season. The next closest total was RB Alvin Kamara with 709 yards. The Saints receiving should have an added element of danger this season if Ted Ginn Jr. can stay healthy. The 34-year old only played in five games in 2018 due to injury after accruing close to 800 yards in  2018. Ginn Jr. had a big week one, recording 101 receiving yards on seven receptions.

Saints coach Sean Payton expects second-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith to build on his 2018 rookie campaign. Smith tallied 427 receiving yards last season.

Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense

The Rams pass defense was better than their rushing offense last season, however, they took a step back compared to their 2017 season. They were able to hold Cam Newton and the Panthers to only 216 passing yards last week, and linebacker Cory Littleton came through with an interception.

Rams #1 CB Aqib Talib should have a big impact on this game. The 11-year veteran only played in eight games last season due to an ankle injury. He finished the 2018 season with one interception accompanied with five deflected passes. Marcus Peters will have to be on his toes in this one as well. The 26-year old corner deflected eight passes last year.

Every QB fears the effective pass rusher, Aaron Donald. The 28-year old defensive tackle made a whopping 20.5 sacks in 2018, and he has won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in two straight seasons. Donald did not register a sack against the Panthers last week.

Who Has the Edge?

This is a close one. I am going to give the edge to the Rams pass defense. The Rams have two strong corners in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. I am confident the Rams can neutralize Michael Thomas after they held the Saints #1 WR to four grabs for 37 yards in last year’s NFC Championship. Aaron Donald is an effective pass rusher and they should be able to put some pressure on Brees.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams Offense vs. New Orleans Saints Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense

The Rams boast one of the best running games in the NFL led by Todd Gurley. Their rushing offense played a key role in the win in Carolina last week, rushing for 166 total yards on an average of 5.2 yards per attempt. It is interesting to note that Malcolm Brown received 11 carries, while Todd Gurley tallied 97 rushing yards on 14 carries. The Rams are utilizing this approach to keep Gurley fresh for the entire season after the 25-year old RB experienced knee problems late last season. Sean McVay has confidence in Malcolm Brown.“Really, our running back room as a whole was outstanding,” McVay said when referencing last Sunday’s performance.

Gurley rushed for over 100 yards on six occasions last season. Malcolm Brown was the #3 RB behind Gurley and C.J. Anderson who is now a member of the Lions. Brown’s 2018 season-high was a 65-year rushing performance in October of last season.

New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense

The Saints rushing defense was a strength last season, ranking second to only the Bears against the run, and the same is expected this year. Week one came as a surprise as the Saints squandered 180 rushing yards to the Texans. The aging Carlos Hyde was able to breakout for 83 rushing yards on 10 carries against New Orleans last week.

The Saints will have defensive tackle David Onyemta back after missing week one due to a suspension. Defensive end Cameron Jordan is also a solid run stuffer. The 30-year old made 49 total tackles last season and four solo tackles last week. Safety Marcus Williams is also effective against the run.

Who Has the Edge?

The Saints rush defense has the edge for a few reasons. The Rams seem to be slightly cautious with Todd Gurley as Malcolm Brown saw almost as many carries as Gurley II last week. Moreover, the Rams were not able to solve the Saints’ rush defense in the two meetings last season. The Rams tallied 92 and 77 rushing yards respectively in the two meetings.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense

The Rams aerial assault is among the best in the NFL. Jared Goff was inconsistent at times in 2018. The former first overall pick went through a three-game stretch of only one touchdown pass against three interceptions in December of last season. With that being said, the 24-year old QB is always a huge threat, and he combined for a 60:19 TD to INT ratio in 2017-2018. Goff wasn’t quite at his best last week, recording 186 passing yards with one touchdown against one pick.

Goff is fresh off a contract extension signed last week. “I thought he made good decisions. He took what the defense gave him,” said Rams’ head coach Sean McVay on Monday. “The biggest culprit I would say, (if) you look at strictly a yard standpoint, is more the play selection than anything else.

Goff has a ton of weapons in his arsenal highlighted by Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp. Woods and Cooks both amassed over 1200 receiving yards last season. Cooper Kupp missed half of last season due to injury after leading the Rams with 869 receiving yards in 2017.  The Rams ‘Big Three’ combined for 155 receiving yards in week one against a strong Panthers defense.

New Orleans Saints Passing Defense

The New Orleans pass defense was a glaring weakness in 2018 ranking 29th in the NFL in passing yards against, and they surrendered 269 passing yards to Deshaun Watson in week one. Saints #1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore had an inconsistent 2018 season after winning 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The 23-year old broke up 12 passes last season while making two interceptions.

The Saints also feature at the talented Eli Apple who was brought in last season after their early struggles against the pass. Apple had similar stats to Lattimore, deflecting nine passes with two picks. Free safety Marcus Williams had a big week one, breaking up two passes, and he also picked off a Deshaun Watson pass.

Who Has the Edge?

This is an easy one. The Rams passing offense definitely has the decisive edge. The Saints do have solid corners in Lattimore and Apple, however, the Rams have too many weapons that even the top passing defensive units have trouble stopping. I expect Goff to rebound from a subpar outing in week one, especially considering he accumulated 391 and 297 passing yards in his two games against the Saints last season.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

Advantage: Push

Coaching

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

New Orleans Saints

Saints field goal kicker Will Lutz nailed a clutch 58-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired last week. Last season Wil Lutz converted on 93% of his field goals, good for fifth in the NFL. 

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams special teams had a rough week one. Punter Johnny Hekker had one punt blocked and another that traveled only seven yards. In addition, Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-year field goal. Zuerlein posted an 87% field goal efficiency last year, placing him 15th overall.

Who Has the Edge?

Both Sean Payton and Sean McVay are outstanding coaches that know how to prepare for an opponent. Sean McVay and the Rams were able to contain Drew Brees in the NFC Championship, although overall I will classify the coaching as a draw.

Advantage: Push

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

The Rams home-field advantage will play a big factor in this one. Los Angeles went 7-1 on their home field in 2018 which included wins against the Vikings, Seahawks, and Chiefs. All but two of their home wins occurred by at least five points. The Saints needed a spectacular late drive to pull out the week one win on their home field which has me reluctant with the Saints in this one.

Furthermore, Jared Goff was admittedly not at his best in week one. He did not play in the preseason and there was some rust which he should have shaken off in the win against the Panthers. Even with Goff not at his best, the Rams still scored 30 points on 349 total yards.

The Rams are a convincing 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall, and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 150 rushing yards in their previous game. The Saints have failed to cover in each of their last six games, and they are 0-4 ATS in their last four games against NFC opponents.

This is a thrilling matchup for NFL fans with two of the most prolific offenses duking it out. These two combatants played to a high-scoring 45-35 shoutout in week nine of last season, and I anticipate another high-scoring showdown in this game. Moreover, the Rams were able to score 30 points on the road against a tough Carolina team, so I expect a big performance on their home field.

Drew Brees accumulated 595 passing yards with six touchdowns in two games against the Rams last season, and Jared Goff countered with 688 passing yards with four touchdown passes against the Saints.

The over is a recurring theme when the Rams are at home, cashing in five of their last six home games. The over has also converted in 8 out of the Rams’ last 11 home games against the Saints.

The over is 16-6 in the Saints’ last 22 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game, and 7-2 in their last nine September games.

Updated on Sep 14 at 6:00pm EDT

The line for this game has remained relatively steady. The Rams opened as three-point favorites, and they are currently two-point favorites.

Injuries

The Rams have received good news on the injury front. Safety Eric Weddle will play on Sunday according to head coach Sean McVay which is great news after he left last week’s game with a possible concussion. Linebacker Clay Matthews returned to practice on Friday after missing a few sessions due to a sore back, and McVay is ‘hopeful’ he plays. Defensive end Michael Brockers also returned to practice Friday and McVay again stated he is hopeful he suits up.

Regarding the Saints injuries, WR Tedd Ginn Jr. and safety Marcus Williams, who made a big interception last week, will both play after missing practice earlier this week. Defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr. is out after missing week one, and offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk is questionable.

Props

My top prop play is the over on the Rams team total. This total of 27.5 points is more than achievable considering they scored 30 points at Carolina last week in a game were Goff wasn’t at his best. Goff accumulated 391 passing yards in the 45-35 defeat to the Saints in week nine of last season. Moreover, the young QB features 320 passing yards with an 11:3 TD to INT ratio in his three career games against the Saints.

I am opting with the over on the Brandin Cooks receiving total. Cooks was the Rams’ best receiver against the Saints last season. The 25-year old WR accumulated 107 yards in the NFC Championship and 114 receiving yards in the week nine clash, so the total of 68.5 receiving yards is more than reasonable.

New Orleans Saints 30, Los Angeles Rams 37

Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.