The New Orleans Saints face one of their oldest rivals in the Los Angeles Rams this week. The storyline gets deeper with the Rams starting their first round pick at quarterback in his first career road start. Deeper still is the story of polarizing and disgraced former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams making his long awaited return to New Orleans, for the first time since his pay-for-performance scandal broke in 2012. The same scandal that cost Saints head coach Sean Payton a year of his career, as well as that of Williams himself.
It would be foolish not to think that bad blood and harbored anger still exist with all parties involved in that nightmare. The Saints, Coach Payton, and Gregg Williams will all certainly be looking to exact some revenge against each other, and the team/coach that executes the best without letting raw emotion take over will be the winner. Let's take a look at this and all of the NFL action in Week 12.
Last week I went 10-4
I told you so: Colts over Titans!
What do I know: Cardinals over Vikings?
Thursday, November 24th - Thanksgiving Day
Early Game - First Course
Neither team has any semblance of a ground game, so expect both teams to attack through the air. The advantage here will go to Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing game. Minnesota's defense will keep things close, but Detroit will pull out the win on the final drive. Detroit wins 27-22.
Late Game - Main Course
Redskins(6-3-1) at Cowboys(9-1)
These teams are more evenly matched than they would appear on the surface. Dallas has the flashy record, the headlines, and homefield advantage, but Washington is more than game to leave AT&T Stadium with a win thanks to their aggressive passing game. Ultimately, Washington's defense will be a liability here and it will cost them the game in the fourth quarter. Dallas wins 29-25.
Primetime Game - Dessert
With Andrew Luck on the field, this had the potential to be a back and forth shootout, without Luck, this should be a one-sided shootout. Ben Roethlisberger will have his biggest game of the season against this terrible Indy defense. Pittsburgh wins 42-22.
Sunday, November 27th - Early Games
The Tennessee offense will throttle Chicago in the Windy City. Tennessee wins 37-19.
Buffalo will dominate Jacksonville on the ground and strangle the Jags by dominating time of possession. Buffalo wins 31-24.
Without their top weapon, Cincy will struggle significantly against the Baltimore defense. Cincy's spiral to the depths of the AFC is upon us. Baltimore wins 29-16.
Cardinals(4-5-1) at Falcons(6-4)
Arizona's top-ranked defense will keep them in this game against the NFL's second-ranked passing attack. The problem for the Cards, as always, is that their quarterback is the hottest of garbage. Carson Palmer will likely turn the ball over late, allowing Atlanta to get the game-winning field goal. Atlanta wins 21-20.
They're the Cleveland Browns. Giants win 27-3.
The rushing yards in this game should be off the charts. It doesn't matter though, because the Niners are terrible. Miami wins 21-13.
Houston's inability to pass the ball consistently and effectively will be their downfall against the Chargers. San Diego wins 31-21.
Rams(4-6) at Saints(4-6)
All of the devices of the Saints' impending doom are firmly in place this week:
- In 2014 and 2015, once the Saints finally reached .500 at mid-season, they went on to lose at least their next three games. Right now they've lost two since reaching .500.
- The Saints have been absolutely terrible against rookie quarterbacks under Sean Payton, losing to Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota (2015), Geno Smith (2013), Robert Griffin III (2012), Max Hall and Colt McCoy (2010), Josh Freeman (2009), and Matt Ryan (2008). Now enter 1st overall pick, Jared Goff, making his first career road start, no less.
- The Saints' offense hasn't fared well against top-level defenses. The Rams enter this game ranked 6th overall.
- Regardless of records or rankings, the Rams have been an absolute thorn in the Saints' sides over the past decade. Now here they are again, looking to trap the Saints in the NFC South cellar.
Despite all of this, the Saints will pound the Rams for one simple reason: Revenge. The type of vengeance Sean Payton will seek against current Los Angeles defensive coordinator and former New Orleans DC, Gregg Williams, will be cold and unrelenting. Will Gregg be seeking vengeance on Sean Payton and Joe Vitt as well? Certainly, but Drew Brees will pick apart the Cover 2 once Williams attacks with the blitz. Vengeance may seem petty, especially four years after the "bounty scandal" but remember that Williams cost the Saints dearly, whether Payton was aware of the transgressions or not. Hell, Payton may have methodically come up with an offensive gameplan to torch Williams during his suspension year, knowing this day would eventually come.
Payton will be petty and aggressive, and he should be. Los Angeles has been dominant on defense, but this Saints offense at home will be lights-out, and Payton will keep his foot on the gas from the coin flip to the postgame presser. The Rams offense, on the other hand, has been absolutely abysmal, and the Saints' improving defense will have its best showing of the season against this rookie QB who has no help at all.
Recent Saints/Rams history hasn't been on Who Dat Nation's side, but these aren't the St. Louis Rams, these are the Los Angeles Rams, and the 2016 LA Rams are trash. Payton, Vitt, and the Saints are ready to serve up some cold vengeance this Thanksgiving weekend, and they're likely to send the Rams back to SoCal with some leftovers as well. Saints win 35-12.
Sunday, November 27th - Late Games
Seahawks(7-2-1) at Buccaneers(5-5) - Game of the Week
Tampa will come out and surprise a lot of people, especially the Seahawks themselves, by shutting down Seattle's run game and getting consistent pressure on Russell Wilson. The trio of Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and Doug Martin will have surprisingly big games here at home against the vaunted Seattle defense. The biggest surprise will be Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo actually making the game-winning field goal. Tampa wins 27-24.
New England's defense will prove to be the better unit in this game, and it will carry the Pats to victory. New England wins 24-13.
Oakland's defense will prove to be a major liability in this game, allowing Cam Newton to have one of his better performances of the season. Carolina will have the lead late, but the Raiders' offense will win the game for them late in the fourth. Oakland wins 27-24.
Sunday Night Football
The Denver defense is rightfully the most heralded unit on the field, but it will be the Kansas City defense that comes up big in this huge divisional matchup. Kansas City wins 27-21.
Monday, November 28th - Monday Night Football
Carson Wentz and the Philly offense will face little resistance from the Green Bay defense while their own defense will make it a long night for Aaron Rodgers and company. Philadelphia wins 34-24.
That's how I see Week 12 going down. Maybe the Saints can still salvage this season somehow and give us all something to be thankful for. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below.