The Rams will look to move to 2-0 on the season with a win over the Saints in Sunday's home opener. The two teams split both matchups last season – New Orleans won 45-35 at home in the regular season, then Los Angeles came away with a 26-23 overtime victory in the NFC Championship to reach the Super Bowl.
In advance of the contest, here’s an early look at the Saints, including notable additions, their top statistical performers so far, where they rank in certain statistical categories and key storylines.
- Signed unrestricted free agent RB Latavius Murray to a four-year deal in March. Now in his sixth NFL season, Murray spent his first three years with the Oakland Raiders. After rushing for 788 yards and a career-best 12 touchdowns in his final year in Oakland, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent the last two seasons. He was effectively signed to replace Mark Ingram, who signed with the Ravens in the offseason after playing a complimentary role to starter Alvin Kamara over the last two years. Murray finished with 140 carries for 578 yards and six touchdowns in his final season in Minnesota, playing in all 16 games while starting in six.
- Signed unrestricted free agent DT Malcom Brown to a three-year deal in March. A 2015 first round pick out of Texas, Brown spent his first four NFL seasons with the Patriots, starting in 51 of the 60 games he appeared in and winning two Super Bowl rings. When starter Sheldon Rankins tore his ACL in the Saints' Divisional Round matchup against the Eagles last season, defensive tackle became a key need to address. Brown is listed as New Orleans' starting nose tackle.
Top performers in Week 1
QB Drew Brees completed 32 of 43 pass attempts for 370 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His nine-yard completion to WR Ted Ginn with six seconds remaining set up kicker Wil Lutz's game-winning 58-yard field goal as time expired for a 30-28 win over the Texans on Monday Night Football.
Kamara led the Saints' backfield with 13 carries for 97 yards, adding seven receptions for 72 yards. However, Murray it was – six carries, 43 yards, one touchdown - who accounted for the first score by a New Orleans running back.
WR Michael Thomas posted 10 receptions for 123 yards, both game-highs. His 10 catches were second-most among all wide receivers in Week 1.
Defensively, CB Von Bell recorded a team-high seven tackles while CB Marshon Lattimore accounted for the Saints' lone interception.
On special teams, Lutz was 3 for 4 on field goal attempts, the lone miss coming on a 56-yard after an officiating gaffe. He converted on all three of his extra point attempts.
- Points Per Game: Tied for 8th (30.0)
- Yards Per Game: 1st (510.0)
- Passing Yards Per Game: 7th (362.0)
- Rushing Yards Per Game: 7th (148.0)
- Points Allowed Per Game: Tied for 21st (27.0)
- Yards Allowed Per Game: 21st (414.0)
- Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 13th (234.0)
- Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 30th (180.0)
Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams
The Saints will have a shorter than usual week when it comes to game prep.
While it's not quite the same as the turnaround for a Thursday night game after playing on a Sunday, New Orleans will probably have a slightly condensed amount of time to prep thanks to playing on Monday Night Football in Week 1 and traveling to Los Angeles later this week.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' defensive line is the position to keep an eye on this week. Malcom Brown, Taylor Stallworth and Shy Tuttle were its only healthy, active interior defensive linemen, but the group is slated to get a boost this week with DT David Onyemata returning from a one-game suspension.
Whether the compacted schedule has an impact on Sunday's game remains to be seen, but the thin depth on the interior of the Saints' defensive line could create an advantage for the Rams' run game.