First Look: Rams have a rematch with Saints for the right to advance to the Super Bowl

The Rams lost to the Saints in Week 9 after a tremendous effort to erase a 21-point lead and now will have a rematch in The Big Easy.

The Saints rolled out one of the top run defenses in the league in 2018 and quarterback Drew Brees operated as per usual — setting the all-time record for most passing yards in NFL history. Head coach Sean Payton’s group put some impressive play on tape in the Divisional round against the Eagles, but the Rams will look to halt the club’s playoff success there and move on to the biggest game of all.

Here’s an early look at the New Orleans Saints (14-3):

Offense

  • Points Per Game: 3rd (31.5)
  • Yards Per Game: 8th (379.2)
  • Rushing Yards Per Game: 6th (126.6)
  • Passing Yards Per Game: 12th (252.6)

Key Contributors

  • WR Michael Thomas: 16 G, 125 Rec, 1,405 Yds, 9 TDs
  • RB Alvin Kamara: 15 G, 194 Att, 883 Yds, 18 Total TDs
  • QB Taysom Hill: 16 G, 37 Att, 196 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees handed it off to running back Alvin Kamara and threw it to wide receiver Michael Thomas for the bulk of the Saints’ offense in his 18th professional season. Thomas led the NFL in receptions in his third season with 125 catches and finished No. 8 in the league with 87.8 receiving yards per game. Thomas posted a career-high 211 yards receiving against the Rams in Week 9.

Kamara is the Saints leading rusher this season, but isn’t alone in the New Orleans backfield. Veteran running back Mark Ingram added 645 yards on the ground and six touchdowns to Kamara’s 18 total touchdowns in the Saints’ No. 3 scoring offense. Joining the true running back duo is quarterback/offensive swiss army knife Taysom Hill. Hill is a wild card in the Saints offense, presenting a threat as a passer, rusher, receiver, and return man in 2018.

Defense

  • Points Allowed Per Game: 14th (22.1)
  • Yards Allowed Per Game: 14th (349.1)
  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 2nd (80.2)

Key Contributors

  • DE Cameron Jordan: 16 G, 12.0 Sk, 49 Tkl, 18 TFL, 21 QBH, 1 FF, 6 PD
  • CB Marshon Lattimore: 16 G, 2 INT, 4 FF, 59 Tkl, 12 PDs, 1 TFL
  • LB Demario Davis: 16 G, 110 Tkl, 2 FF, 5.0 Sk, 4 PDs, 11 QBH, 11 TFL

The Saints defense took a hit in the Divisional round, losing defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to a torn achilles. It’ll be largely up to defensive end Cameron Jordan against the veteran Rams offensive line with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Jordan has 12.0 sacks in 2018, but came up empty against the Rams in Week 9 and hasn’t recorded a sack since Week 14.

The Saints have been best against the run this season, but quarterback Jared Goff has reason to keep an eye out for cornerback Marshon Lattimore lurking downfield. Lattimore has been productive in his sophomore season and came up with a huge pick in the Divisional round.

Quarterback

  • QB Drew Brees: 15 G 3,992 Yds, 32 TDs, 77.4 % Cmp, 5 Int

Brees wrapped up his 18th NFL season with a professional record of 155-108, the most passing yards in NFL history (74,437 yards), and 520 touchdowns. Brees has also completed the most passes in NFL history (6,586). Brees, who turned 40 on Tuesday, is a 12-time Pro Bowler and led the Saints to a Super Bowl XLIV title, in which he earned MVP honors.

Brees is 4-5 in his career against the Rams and 8-6 in the playoffs.

Previous Meeting

  • Week 9: Saints 45, Rams 35

The Saints handed the Rams their first loss of the season in FOX’s Game of the Week in Week 9. After trading blows in the first quarter, the Saints jumped out to a 35-14 lead late in the first half, only to have the lead erased behind an impressive offensive effort from Goff and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks in the second half.

The Rams were able to knot the game at 35 early in the fourth quarter, but the comeback fell short, when wide receiver Michael Thomas took a Brees pass 72 yards to the house with just under four minutes remaining to put the Saints up two scores.

Last Week

  • W 20-14 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Saints advanced to the NFC Championship game by beating the defending world champions in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday in the Divisional round.

The Eagles got off to a hot start, going up 14-0 early in the first quarter, but the Saints roared back and dominated the clock for much of the game. Quarterback Drew Brees was busy connecting with wide receiver Michael Thomas to get the Saints back into the contest. Brees finished with 301 yards passing, two touchdowns, and just his sixth interception of the season. Thomas led all receivers with 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown.

The Eagles came up with a few impressive defensive stands and had a shot for some magic from quarterback Nick Foles, down four late. That was until cornerback Marshon Lattimore ended all hopes in Philly with a huge interception on the Eagle’s final drive.

Head Coach

The Saints are led by 12th-year head coach Sean Payton. Payton is 118-74 (.615) at the helm in New Orleans. Payton has taken the Saints to the playoffs seven times and is 1-1 in the NFC Championship game. He has one championship leading the Saints, beating Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

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