Another week, another familiar foe standing in the New Orleans Saints’ way of making it to Atlanta for Super Bowl 53.
As you may have heard, the New Orleans Saints beat the Los Angeles Rams 45-35 during the regular season.
Turns out, that win could be the difference in the Saints getting to the Super Bowl and not getting there — at least if recent history is any indication.
In each of the past five seasons, the team with home-field advantage in the NFC and AFC championship games advanced to the Super Bowl.
But like the rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles last week, there’s no guarantee the Saints will easily come out on top. The Saints aren’t facing the same Rams team they took down in Week 9, with the emergence of C.J. Anderson and return of Aqib Talibposing new problems for New Orleans.
So here we are. Rams-Saints, Round Deux.
Here’s all the info you need to know before Sunday’s divisional round affair at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints | Out: DT Sheldon Rankins, WR Keith Kirkwood; Questionable: TE Benjamin Watson
Kirkwood suffered a calf injury against the Philadelphia Eagles and did not practice this week. With him out, it’s likely that Austin Carr will see more snaps this week.
If Watson does not play, Dan Arnold, who was inactive last week, will likely be active and have a role. Garrett Griffin could also see an uptick in snaps.
When the Saints pass | Advantage: Saints
The Rams are playing better in the secondary, and they’ll need to prove it this week if they want to slow this New Orleans passing attack.
When the Saints run | Advantage: Saints
New Orleans still has a potent rushing attack, and this might be a week to lean on it against a defense that can be beaten on the ground
When the Rams pass | Advantage: Saints
The Los Angeles passing attack hasn’t quite been what it was early in the season, and the New Orleans secondary has been playing well.
When the Rams run | Advantage: Rams
It feels weird to pick against the New Orleans run defense, which has soared all season, but the Rams’ rushing attack has been potent lately.
Special teams | Advantage: Saints
Wil Lutz missing a field goal was a fluke. Outside of that, this group has been as good as can be.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
186 | Los Angeles’ yards passing last week
273 | Los Angeles’ yards rushing last week
107 | Pressures by Aaron Donald this season, per PFF
205 | Pressures by the rest of the Rams
IF YOU NEED A SONG TO PLAY WHEN THE SAINTS SCORE…
Of course by now you’ve heard Choppa’s special ‘Choppa Style’ G.O.A.T. remix for Drew Brees and his birthday, right?
When New Orleans scores, your friends will appreciate you blaring this…
The Saints are going to have to be ready to fight to win this game. It won’t be easy. The Rams are a worthy opponent, and while they’ve had some issues in the passing game, their running backs will put New Orleans to the test. This group will find a way to win.
Rod Walker | Saints 24, Rams 23
I can’t remember the last time I really considered picking against the Saints. This is one of those times. How well the run defense holds up will be key. If this game were played on a neutral site or in L.A., I’d pick the Rams. But the Saints have found ways to win too many times this season for me to pick against them now. But it’ll be close.
Scott Rabalais | Saints 27, Rams 24
It is a tribute to how good the Saints and Rams are that they are here despite not being at midseason form. It will be a tough, desperate fight that could easily swing either way, but the Who Dats will lift the Saints to another Super Bowl. Let the second line begin.
Nathan Brown | Saints 26, Rams 23
With these offenses so evenly matched, this is going to come down to the little things – special teams, discipline in penalties and finding one or two big-play opportunities. Having a veteran head coach and quarterback while playing at home will give the Saints that edge.