Welp, the New Orleans Saints lost again, falling to 3-7 on the season, and are now officially last in the NFC South. While technicality the season is not “over” yet, in all essence, it looks to be coming to a close rather early this year for the Saints. This week they have the chance to take on a similarly underperforming team in the reigning champion Los Angeles Rams, who currently sit at 3-6 and at the bottom of the NFC West. With that said, in this article, I will be breaking down how the Saints’ passing offense and Rams’ passing defense have performed so far this season, and then projecting how they could match up against each other this Sunday.
How have these two units performed so far?
Statistically speaking, the Saints’ passing attack has been above average this year, however the product being shown on the field says otherwise. The Saints rank 7th in the league in passing yards (2,518), T-10th in the league in yards per reception (7.4), 15th in the league in completion percentage (64.6%), T-7th in the league in passing touchdowns (16), and 12th in the league in passing first downs (114). Their main issue lies in turning the ball over, with a league-leading 12 interceptions so far (2 more than any other team), which has stalled many drives and more importantly, taken away possessions from the offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams’ pass defense has been very on and off throughout the season. They rank well in passing yards allowed (12th least - 1,932), passing first downs allowed (T-9th least - 97), passing touchdowns allowed (T-9th - 11), and passing first down percentage allowed (10th - 32.3%). However, they have struggled in interceptions (9th least - 5) and completion percentage allowed (6th highest - 67.7%). Overall, they have done well to stop the pass, however, they have not seen an exceptionally high amount of pass plays run against them either (10th least - 300).
What should we expect from these units matching up?
Well, on paper, simply put, the Rams have the advantage in this category. The sheer talent between Jalen Ramsey covering your WR1 and Aaron Donald rushing the passer (despite a slightly down year) is hard to overcome for teams that do not have exceptionally talented WR cores. With Michael Thomas out, the Saints will have to rely on Chris Olave to go 1 on 1 with one of the best DBs in football, which will be a good test to see if Olave can handle that spotlight as he has previously.
Andy Dalton has struggled against lesser secondaries as of late, specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, so a talented DB room including Ramsey would, in theory, perform exceptionally well in this game. We will see how that all plays out, as the whole “any given Sunday” mantra applies as always. But regardless, considering the stats and talent in these two units from what we can see, it should be in favor of the Rams here.