One of the New Orleans Saints few primetime games are scheduled to take place late in the season against the Los Angeles Rams. This road game could be a huge, late season test for the Saints as the Rams did finish 4-5 at home last year. This Rams team is likely to be hard to predict, as they lost over 10 players in free agency from last season and had 14 draft picks. For the Saints, this is a very long road trip on a short week late in the year. No matter the makeup of this year’s Rams team, the Saints are likely in store for a tough matchup. This is the breakdown of the New Orleans Saints at the Los Angeles Rams for Week 16 of the 2023 NFL Regular Season.
Week 16: Saints at Rams
It is not breaking news that the Rams went all in on their Super Bowl run two years ago. Because of this, last season completely imploded on the team, as they finished just 5-12 on the season. Not only that, but the off-season was brutal for the team. They lost several defensive players, including Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wager, A’Shawn Robinson, and Nick Scott. These four players alone totaled 327 sacks for the Rams. Floyd and Wagner also had 15 sacks between the two of them. None of these players are on the team this season which looks to be in full rebuild mode. Especially late in the season, this lack of defensive playmakers could help the Saints. Derek Carr and the Saints offense will have had nearly the entire season to work out any issues. The veteran presence of the Saints offense should have the advantage though.
As for the Rams offense, three other quarterbacks started last season after Matthew Stafford’s injuries caught up with him. Not only that, but star wide receiver Cooper Kupp also played in just nine games last season. Remarkably, Kupp was still the leading receiver on the Rams team, playing in just over half a season. No other receiver had more than 376 yards for the Rams. It also did not help that the offensive line was completely inept, giving up 59 sacks which was the third most in the NFL. This is great news for the Saints defense who should have great matchups in this game. The Saints had the fifth most sacks in the NFL last season and should live in the backfield in this game. It also means that Marshon Lattimore and the rest of the secondary can simply focus on stopping Cooper Kupp to slow down the entire offense.
Thursday night flex
The rules around Thursday night NFL games were updated for this upcoming season. Between the weeks of 13 and 17, any Thursday game can be moved to Sunday to allow a better matchup to happen in primetime. With this game being in week 16, it could very well be in danger of being moved. A four-week notice is required to move the games, so the records of these two teams by week 12 will determine if the game is moved. Only two Thursday games can be flexed with the new rule as well. If the rebuilt Rams are just a shell of their former selves, which could easily happen with their amount of turnover, then this could be a game no one wants to watch. It is also in the realm of possibility that both of these teams go into this game out of contention.
When looking at the other games in this flex period, the Saints and Rams actually stand out as a potential flex. High profile teams such as the Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers are unlikely to get moved out of primetime. A divisional matchup late in the season between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders is also unlikely to be flexed. That leaves just two games which could move. This week 16 matchup and the week 17 game between the Jets and Cleveland Browns. If the NFL wants to experiment with the Thursday night flex, then the Saints could be bounced out of primetime. With the Saints being the road team though, this change could greatly benefit the Saints, giving them a full week’s rest before a late season game that could help determine playoff seeding.