The New Orleans Saints host the undefeated Los Angeles Rams in what is easily the biggest matchup in the NFC this season and arguably the best matchup in the NFL this year. The winner takes sole possession of the top spot in the conference, while the loser may spend much of the season playing catch-up and fending off contenders for a first-round bye.
Despite more hype and hyperbole in other matchups, make no mistake, Saints/Rams is clearly the biggest game of the week, and arguably the biggest regular season game of the year. In fact, it would be far from surprising for this to only be the first meeting between these teams, as a playoff rematch could easily be in the stars for these teams. With a win here, the Saints can make it even more likely that potential rematch could take place in New Orleans as well.
Let’s take a look at this and all of the upcoming Week 9 action.
Last week I went 13-1
I told you so: Panthers over Ravens (UGH)!
What do I know: Bucs over Bengals?
Thursday, November 1st - Thursday Night Football
This Day of the Dead matchup is appropriate, considering these Bay Area rivals have been dead all season. This Thursday Night dud should be put six feet under. San Francisco wins 17-16.
Sunday, November 4th - Early Games
Buffalo’s ineffective offense will be sacrificed to Chicago’s punishing attack in this one. Chicago wins 24-7.
Buccaneers(3-4) at Panthers(5-2)
While many claim Fitzmagic is back, we’re more likely to see the Fitztragic we all know and love against the Carolina defense. Carolina wins 31-14.
Newly-minted head coach Gregg Williams’ crew are about to get thrown in a wood chipper here. Kansas City wins 42-15.
These two teams are awfully similar, in the fact that they are similarly awful. Sam Darnold will be the biggest factor, as he will have a key turnover that turns the game. Miami wins 20-19.
Baltimore rebounds from two straight losses by defeating their arch-rivals behind a strong defensive performance and a surprising showing from Joe Flacco. Baltimore wins 26-24.
Knowing a loss here would put them in a bad spot in the NFC North and would give some life to Detroit, Minnesota will get this win at home. Minnesota wins 26-19.
Washington has been on a roll since suffering a brutal loss in New Orleans, but that roll will come to a surprising skid when they fall late at home to the Falcons, thanks to a last second field goal. Atlanta wins 26-23.
Sunday, November 4th - Late Games
Denver seems to be unraveling, just as Houston is getting red hot. Houston takes this one in Mile High. Houston wins 24-20.
In a surprising turn, it will be the Chargers defense that wins the day in Seattle, by coming up with some big plays against the inconsistent Seahawks offense. Los Angeles wins 24-21.
Rams(8-0) at Saints(6-1) - Game of the Year
The stat lines will show that the Rams beat the Saints by 6 at the LA Memorial Coliseum a year ago, but there is a lot behind that result. Remember, the Saints went into Los Angeles with De’Vante Harris and PJ Williams as the starting cornerbacks last year, having lost starters Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley for the week. Even with that massive disadvantage and also having lost DE Alex Okafor the week prior, the Saints managed to keep it close, on the road, against the NFC West leaders.
Now, a year later, the Saints get another shot at the NFC West leaders, and current NFL leader. This time, with a fully-complimented secondary. This time, with a healthy Alex Okafor across from Cam Jordan. This time, at home in the Superdome. When the dome is rocking, and so much is at stake, few venues in sports provide as much of an advantage for the home team.
The last two times the Saints faced the Rams, the Saints defense was ranked in the middle-of-the-pack and were averaging 102 and 112 rushing yards per game against, respectively. The Saints enter this game with the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL by a wide margin, giving up only 74 yards-per-game. This will be a huge factor as the Rams come into this game with the NFL’s top rushing attack, averaging 151 yards-per-game, Led by All-Pro Todd Gurley.
The key to victory will be the Saints defense holding Gurley to just 15 carries for 62 yards and no touchdowns. This will put the pressure on Jared Goff to lead the offense with his arm, which he is fully capable of doing. Even without rookie DE Marcus Davenport, the Saints have the pieces on defense to make things difficult for Goff, seeing the QB go for 284 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
On offense, the Saints will have their hands full, facing the Rams’ top-ten defense, anchored by All-Pro interior linemen Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. The duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will need to wear down the talented Rams defensive line. Much of that will come by way of the Saints’ supremely talented offensive line, which will need to be at its best to protect Drew Brees. Look for a solid day by Brees, passing for 278 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
This one will be close and tense most of the way, but the Saints will find that extra gear late in the second half, allowing them to separate and win by 10, in front of an exhilarated home crowd. Putting themselves in the driver’s seat in the NFC by day’s end. Saints win 34-24.
Sunday Night Football
It’s star-power over substance in this Sunday Night “marquee” matchup. The story is Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers of course, and that matchup overshadows Pats vs. Pack. There may be better, more crucial games (like Saints/Rams), but this was destined to be “The Big One” as soon as the schedule-makers landed on this date.
The game won't be bad by any means, but the hype behind Brady/Rodgers will be hard to live up to. New England is just doing what they usually do, but Green Bay’s record is not looking great, and a loss here puts them in a rough spot. Rodgers may outduel Brady, since he has to carry the team, but Brady picks up the win. New England wins 28-23.
Monday, November 5th - Monday Night Football
This one will be a plodding, defensive affair, and the combined passing yardage may not get over 300 yards, but Dallas will get enough from their rushing attack and their defense to get the win. Dallas wins 24-21.
That’s how I see Week 9 shaping up. Hopefully, the Saints will keep their winning streak rolling along, while snapping the Rams’ streak in the process. Leave us your picks, comments, and insight below!