By Christy Chauvin //@WhoDatWarriors
New Orleans Saints versus Los Angeles Rams will provide an optimum window into each team. The teams are vying for the 3rd and 4th seeds in the NFC playoff picture. The following are my impressions from watching the Rams games heretofore.
These thoughts should be considered in light of the fact that defensive end Alex Okafor (out for season), cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and cornerback Ken Crawley will not be in the game for the Saints.
Quarterback Jared Goff is inaccurate when playing under duress. A good pass rush and defensive line can stop this offense. The Rams either lost or barely won against Washington, San Francisco, Cowboys, Seattle, and Vikings. The Rams could have easily lost to Jacksonville. A quality defense can affect the Rams’ ability to move and/or run the ball.
Goff is not a consistent, precision quarterback. But if a team gives him enough time, he will make a team pay with incredible throws. He has a tendency to stare down receivers and any manipulation of the defense is a result largely of the play calling as opposed to his moving the defense with his eyes. As a comparison to a recent quarterback the Saints have faced– quarterback Kirk Cousins is a better quarterback in my opinion. Goff has a poor awareness of defensive players closing in on him and may take too long to throw and set up a coverage sack.
As for running back Todd Gurley, he is not always as dominant as one would think. I believe there should be concerns about the offensive line of the Rams.
Special teams for the Rams is of particular concern given the muffed punts/returns of wide receivers Tavon Austin and Cooper Kupp. Both of these players are very good but have not been the favored target of Goff as was wide receiver Robert Woods. Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins remains a bit of a mystery. I really don’t remember a game where he was an overwhelming factor.
The Rams’ secondary is particularly vulnerable to the big laser pass. The defense has given up a lot of rushing yards.
There is familiarity between the Saints and the Rams given last year’s contest. The Saints handily won the game and the Saints offensive line was able to handle the mighty defensive line of the Rams. However, there are new players on the Saints offensive line including rookie Ryan Ramczyk who may need assistance. The Rams will remember this game and it would be foolish to assume a win over the Saints (who they typically dominated) would not be sweet to them.
The Saints will be vulnerable in the secondary but I believe the defensive scheme may be able to contain the Rams and win the game. The key, in my opinion, will be to hurry Goff and protect our secondary. The loss of Okafor will affect the Saints’ ability to effect a pass rush but if schemed correctly, linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison should be a factor in hurrying Goff.
I believe the Saints will be able to move the ball through the air and will be able to rush enough to score and control the game tempo.
The Saints will win but the Rams will do themselves proud today.
Talk Saints with Christy on Twitter @WhoDatWarriors