The New Orleans Saints are going to have to rest up quick and get ready for this week’s game, as they go up against the 2-4 Arizona Cardinals Thursday night. After a tough loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Saints need to get back on track and continue their really strong run performance from last week, despite the loss.
This game will be a key matchup for both teams, who have significantly underperformed their on-paper rosters due to injuries as well as some coaching discrepancies to put it lightly. In this article, I will cover how these two units have performed so far this season, and then preview this matchup between run offense and run defense, and what the outcome could be.
How have these two units performed this season?
Overall, the Saints’ run unit has been very strong this year in overall production and efficiency per carry. They rank 7th in the league in rushing yards (909), 7th in attempts (170), 2nd in yards per carry (5.4), are tied for 3rd most rushing touchdowns (8), rank top 10 in both 20+ and 40+ yard rushes, 7th in rushing first downs (46), and are tied for 8th in rushing first down percentage (27.1%). On the season, fumbles have been an issue, with 4 so far, but they have slowed down in the past few games, which is a promising sign. The offensive line has done a phenomenal job in the run-blocking department, to where both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are averaging 4+ yards per carry each.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals have had a very limited usage of the run defense, with the 9th least rushing attempts seen by their defense (144). Regardless, they have allowed the 7th least amount of rushing yards (623) and the 13th lowest yards per carry (4.3). On the other hand, they are tied for the 10th most rushing touchdowns allowed (6), the 17th most rushing first downs allowed (38), and the 7th highest first down percentage via the run allowed (26.4%). So, while they have allowed low general production numbers, their efficiency in stopping the run is about average to just below average.
What should we expect from these units?
Now comes the interesting part, how will these units stack up against each other? Statistically speaking, the Saints should have the upper hand in this matchup. They have had high efficiency when rushing and gain a large percentage of their first downs from the ground, which is something the Cardinals have struggled to control at times.
That being said, I would not expect as large of a rushing performance from the Saints as last week with their 228 total rushing yards on the day. The Cardinals’ front 7 is more formidable than that of the Bengals, with J.J. Watt, Rashard Lewis, Isaiah Simmons, and Zaven Collins being the notable names there. Expect about 140-150 rushing yards on the day for New Orleans (excluding any random Taysom Hill 50–60-yard rushes), or just under 200 including said rushes. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints remain 2.5-point road underdogs against the Cardinals, so all-in-all this sets up to be a good matchup on paper, so we will see who comes out on top in the battle of the trenches.