The New Orleans Saints fell to 3-7 after taking a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 10, by a score of 20-10. They will now be moving on to take on the 3-6 Los Angeles Rams in Week 11, who have also been underperforming expectations in their season after a Super Bowl victory. With that said, in this article, I will discuss how the Saints’ rushing offense and Rams’ rushing defense have performed so far this season, and then break down how we should expect them to match up against each other this Sunday. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these units performed this season?
So far this season, the Saints’ rushing attack has been good statistically, but in the last few weeks, it has been very limited in its usage and has not produced at the same level. They currently rank 11th in rushing yards (1,202), are tied for 12th in yards per carry (4.7), are tied for 15th in rushing touchdowns (9), are 13th in rushing first downs (65), on the 14th most rushing attempts (254). The struggle is that the Saints go down early, and then have to pass the ball an excessive amount of times (or think they do anyways) to try and come back. The issue is, running the ball 15 times in a game across 4 people, 6 of which being designed QB runs or them rolling out of the pocket, does not work in the NFL landscape.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams’ rushing defense has been absolutely phenomenal this year in most major metrics, aside from a few random poor performances (i.e. against the Dallas Cowboys or the 2nd matchup against the San Francisco 49ers). They have allowed the 4th least amount of rushing yards (865), are tied for the 3rd lowest YPC allowed (4.0), have allowed the 10th lowest number of rushing touchdowns (6), the 2nd lowest number of rushing first downs (47), and the 5th lowest rushing first down success rate allowed (21.5%). They have seen the 5th lowest number of run attempts against a team this season, however, but the extremely low YPC shows why, as they have been effective, nonetheless.
What to expect from these units matching up
On paper, this matchup heavily favors the Rams, and not in a particularly close manner either. The Rams’ run defense has been spectacular this season all around, but have given up some big performances, notably to Tony Pollard/Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey. There is a way to beat them in the run game, it just takes a lot of offensive play calling prowess and strong running. The issue is, the Saints have notably stopped using the run more and more this season and have been missing various offensive linemen to injury (most notably Erik McCoy, who went on IR).
As for what to expect, you should expect the Rams to hold the Saints under 70 rushing yards. Does that mean it will happen? No, as they have had a couple of miscues this season and have let up some big performances, but they are few and far between. If you want to get the run game going again, this is a tough team to start trying to against.