NFC Championship Preview: Rams at Saints

 

 

Willy Nailor
By Willy Nailor

 

 

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints, Marshon Lattimore #23 and Michael Thomas #13 celebrate after a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

 

Before we get started, I gotta tell you, I don’t like giving predictions on who is going to win because there’s so much that factors in to picking a winner, you can’t just go right to the prediction. You need to think about it and analyze what a team’s trying to do, different strategies and game plans they’ll try, the opponents game plan, how you’re gonna stop em, etc. You can’t just go right to the end with it. That’s like building a skyscraper and starting with the penthouse. You can’t do it. Most jackass writers and casual sports fans will all have the same general consensus, and that’s the Saints and the Patriots winning on championship weekend. But how did they get there?

They almost assume right away who’s winning without looking into it, and that there is no possible way that there can be any other outcome. Fuck em. I’m not saying they’re bad picks, but there’s nothing leading up to the prediction. The pick’s an impulse outta nowhere, and I can smell the bullshit right away. If you look at the early predictions for any type of sports bracket every year, whether it’s the NFL playoffs, NBA, or even March Madness, and compare them to the actual results after it happens, they’re not even close to each other.

 

Then where are those tools at? I bet a lot of people had the Bears and the Texans going further. That’s just not me, and it goes to show that anything can happen, including on championship weekend. Instead of immediately looking at who’s winning, I like to look at how each team can win, and what they need to do to accomplish that. That being said, let’s get started.

 

 

Rams at Saints

This games gonna be good…

The Rams have the kind of offense that can create big plays fast and put points on the board in the blink of an eye. However, the Saints also have a potent offense with an infinitely more experienced QB and a more stout defense. This game can go either way. For the Rams to win this game, the offense is gonna need to score big and not let up 30+ points. Drew Brees is gonna put up points, and the Rams D is not good enough to stop him. But they don’t need to.

All that the Rams need to do is get enough pressure on Brees and play up on the Saints receivers to disrupt their timing as much as possible in order to slow the offense down. This is very possible because of a top five defensive line led by Aaron Donald (who had 20.5 sacks AS A FUCKING DEFENSIVE TACKLE) and Ndamukong Suh. While Suh has been criticized for his ineffectiveness in 2018, but he showed up during the divisional round as he clogged up the middle of the line and was a primary reason why the Rams were able to hold Zeke to just 50 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per carry. For his performance, Suh was also given the highest grade of any Rams defender by Pro Football Focus as he had four pressures in 30 pass-rush snaps and a run-stop percentage of 11.8. And with 2 former all pro corners in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters playing man-to-man on the Saints top two options, slowing routes and disrupting play timing will play in the Rams favor.




Next, the defense needs to tackle well. The Saints are a very potent offense with a lot of guys who are good in space. This is one of the reasons why the Saints were able to march down the field in the second half against the Eagles. The Saints play a lot of dink and dunk and underneath games that, with elite tackling, can be suppressed enough to where long, surgical scoring drives are no longer a threat.

Lastly, Sean McVay is going to have to stick to his game plan. He has probably the best running back in the league in Todd Gurley, and just added another great runner in C.J. Anderson, who is back to his form that helped him win Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos. Run them both into the ground.

 

This combination is going to be hard to stop, even with the Saints 2nd ranked run defense. (Yes, it sounds bullshit, but check it, they’re 2nd) This will keep the Saints D off balance and open up countless opportunities for big plays out of play action. And also, it will keep pressure off of Jared Goff. McVay has a tendency to get cute with his playcalling, which has come back to bite him in the ass. This is Sean Payton he’s going up against. Stick to your game plan, and run the ball.

For the Saints to win this game, all they need to do is execute. It’s that simple. They have the kind of offense that can frustrate an entire fan base as they surgically march down the field on their team’s helpless defense. I’ve said what the Rams D needs to do in order to slow this down, but if that does not happen, it will be a slow, painful beat down by the Saints O.




Drew Brees is too good and too accurate to let him do what he wants to do. During the regular season, Brees led all qualified passers in touchdown/interception ratio as he threw 32 TDs while only throwing five INTs all season long. He also led the NFL in QB rating with an 115.7 rating. Brees also does a phenomenal job of getting the ball out quickly as he has been sacked just 17 times this year. He was the only QB with 250+ pass attempts and less than 20 sacks. He’s also got just too many weapons that will also beat you if you let him get them the ball. Just check out this perfect throw to Kamara’s outside shoulder that allows him to use his elite acceleration and athleticism to easily glide in for a touchdown:

Gonna be a long day for the Rams if the Saints use their game plan to get Kamara matchups like that, and it will be even longer if Brees can keep making those kinds of throws as quickly as he’s been making them. As far as defense, it’s simple, they need to stop the Rams run game. The Rams aren’t a rubiks cube. If you stop their ground game, the whole offense falls on Jared Goff. Nuff said. I mean, how many NFL quarterbacks would try and throw the ball in THIS position:

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff #16 fumbles the Baal as he is hit by Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill #54 as Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley #30 misses the block in the second half of the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 16, 2018. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

 

Final Prediction…

Saints

After thinking about everything, and looking at what each team needs to do, and how both sides match up with each other, this game could go either way. But I think the Saints will win. This is the Saints game to lose, they are the standard, and they can essentially bully chip the Rams into getting away from their game plan.

I think Drew Brees will pick the Rams D apart the entire game the way he did to the Eagles in the second half this past Sunday. When it gets down to crunch time with eight or so minutes left in the 4th, The Saints D is going to get pressure up the inside and off the edge, and Goff is gonna panic.

He only plays well when everything around him is going perfectly, and as soon as he gets flustered, he’s gonna look like Brucie from the longest yard. Plus, don’t forget where the game’s being played. I predict a Saints win 35-24.




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