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Three Takeaways From A Gruesome New Orleans Saints Shutout Defeat

The Saints had not been shoutout in a game since week 17 of the 2001 season against none other than the San Franciso 49ers. 332 games have passed since then, which was the longest streak in the NFL. Yesterday, that streak ended as the Saints lost 13-0. Again they were buried by self-inflicted wounds. Without them, in true Saints fashion, the result of this game is totally different.

Three things stood out to me from truly one of the most frustrating Saints games I’ve had the displeasure of watching.

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Andy Dalton Was Not The Problem

As the game progressed, Saints Twitter was lighting up with comments about how enough is enough with Andy Dalton and how Jameis Winston should start going forward. Honestly, I don’t see how Andy Dalton was the problem in this game and how Winston would have done anything different to change the result.

Dalton moved the ball well and did more than enough for the Saints to win this game. The key to victory throughout Dalton’s run as the starter has been the running game, and when that hasn’t worked, he’s crumbled. I don’t think he crumbled yesterday. The offense around him did.

Of course, it’s reasonable when an offense scores zero points that some of the blame has to fall on the QB, and in other games where an offense is shutout, the blame would fall solely on the QB. Dalton did all he could, and there’s a clear path to where his play leads the Saints to multiple touchdowns and possibly a season-changing win.

The Saints moved the ball really well against one of the best defenses in the league. They were inside the 49ers ten-yard line twice and drove to the edge of the RedZone on another occasion. The result of those drives? A missed 48-yard field goal after veteran tackle Ryan Ramczyk’s false start pushed them back. An Alvin Kamara fumble at the one-yard line (the Saints had driven 87 yards in 12 plays)  and a turnover on downs after four pass attempts inside the five.

On the final drive, Dalton threw two balls that hit Juwan Johnson and Taysom Hill in the hands/face, but they couldn’t make the play. Both plays would have resulted in a touchdown. If the two earlier drives had gone differently, it would have been a 10-10 game on the Saints final offensive position, and instead of a turnover on downs, they could have kicked a chip-shot field goal to tie the game at 13. Giving the 49ers the ball back with six minutes left and a chance to win.

Was Dalton perfect? No, he wasn’t. He didn’t see Kamara on at least two plays where he looked to be wide open, where he would have walked in for a TD, but pressure forced Dalton to look to the other side of the field. He also threw Kamara into trouble on a few other plays that could have gotten the star RB hurt. However, is Winston perfect? At this stage, we know he is not, and one of Winston’s fatal flaws in the Saints offense is missed checkdown options to Kamara, so would he have seen him? It’s reasonable to think he wouldn’t have.

I understand the fans who think at this stage, with the Saints sitting 4-8, does it hurt to see what Winston is once and for all in this offense, given he’s the only QB under contract after this year? For what it’s worth, I agree with this argument. What I don’t agree with is those saying that because of this game, Dalton’s performance was so poor that he should be benched for Winston. I just don’t see that from what we saw yesterday.

This Might Have Been The Defense’s Best Game Of The Season

What’s even more frustrating about the Saints inability to score points yesterday was that the defense showed up in a big way. They tackled well and pressured Garoppolo constantly. They held the 49ers to three points on two drives where they were inside the Saints 10-yard line. One of those being a goal line stand turning over the 49ers at the one-yard line. For the most part, they shut down, on paper, an offense that does everything the Saints haven’t been able to defend all year.

The linebacker play was excellent. Kaden Ellis was great again and led the team with 14 tackles. He also forced a holding call rushing the passer. Ellis is starting to really look like the real deal. He wasn’t alone. Zack Baun had probably his best game as a Saint (outside of preseason games). He was involved in multiple positive plays in the run game and showed good ability as a Blitzer with a QB hit, which should have been a sack if not for Jimmy G’s quick trigger.

The secondary was excellent (except for one player more on him in a minute), especially Paulson Adebo, who had two PBUs on the day,(three if you count a play that was called back by penalty) and was sticky in coverage all day. Alontae Taylor should have had his first NFL interception, which again would have changed the game in the Saints favor if not for said player, and the safeties looked solid and did what they needed to do to limit a challenging 49ers offense.

Enough positivity. I’ve mentioned a player twice above who frankly cost the Saints dearly in this game and who should not have been in the game. Veteran CB Chris Harris. Harris has filled in admirably whilst the Saints dealt with a huge number of injuries at CB in recent weeks, considering he is one of the oldest starting DBs in the league. 

Yesterday there was no reason for him to be on the field. On the 49ers TD drive, he committed a ridiculous personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds, which was completely unnecessary, and gifted the 49ers first and goal at five. Frankly, he should not have been in the game after that, but of course, Dennis Allen left him in because he left him in. He then committed the illegal contact penalty that cost the Saints the turnover they desperately needed when Alontae Taylor picked off Jimmy G and returned it to the 49ers eight-yard line. 

With the Saints expected to get Marshon Lattimore back this week and Roby returning in this game, Harris should not be on the field anymore, and if he does, it is coaching malpractice.

What Is A Catch In The NFL?

The Saints took over on the 49ers 38, down three, with a real chance to change the game’s momentum. Taysom Hill threw a dart to Chris Olave for 30 yards, setting them up with first and goal at the 49ers eight-yard line. Or so we thought. Olave caught the ball, took two steps, hit the ground, and the ball came out.

The 49ers challenged much to Twitter’s confusion. Nobody that I saw could understand why Olave clearly secured the ball, completed a football move ( two steps after securing possession), and then his knee hit the ground, he still had possession, and then the ball came out. The ground can’t cause a fumble; therefore, this was a pointless challenge, and the Saints should have had first and goal. Wrong for some reason, none that are clear to me or anyone else ( apart from FOX NFL rules analyst Dean Blandino). The refs overturned the call to an incomplete pass.

The drive ended in a punt. This was another point of frustration in this game. The Saints likely score at least three points here, changing the whole complexion of those late-game drives. Maybe they even score a TD, which would have really given the Saints the momentum. Maybe the Saints completely balls it up and don’t score at all, but we should be able to speak in definitives because we should have been able to see how it played out because there’s no way it should have been ruled how it was.

This isn’t news to anyone, but the NFL has a huge officiating issue that needs to be addressed because I’m getting sick of it, and fans will start to switch off the way this is going.

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Key Matchups For The New Orleans Saints Vs. The Goliath 49ers

A matchup that has previously brought some incredibly close offensive shootouts. Now looks like a real David vs. Goliath situation for the Saints to overcome. For them to do so, they need to find a way not to get dominated in these three matchups.

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Saints Tackles Vs Nick Bosa

The Saints should be back to full strength on the o-line minus starting center Erik McCoy who is still on IR. After starting a completely makeshift left side of the line against the Rams.  With the makeshift line, the Saints proved they could scheme a great game plan to stop one of the league’s best, Aaron Donald.

They need to do the same this week against a ferocious 49ers pass rush, led again but one of the best in the league Nick Bosa. Bosa has rushed the passer 279 times which ranks as only the 46th most in the league, but he is still ranked tied for third in the league with 50 QB pressures per PFF. for perspective, his 50 QB pressures is more than the Saints leading pass rushers combined, Cam Jordan (24) and Marcus Davenport (23).

Those stats should illustrate Bosa’s sheer dominance against the pass, and he can be just a disruptive against the run, which does not bode well for the Saints offense. The game plan and execution of the offense is going to need to be perfect this week for the Saints to have the success required to win this game.

Saints Defense Vs YAC

Anyone who’s been watching the Saints defense this year knows that one of the biggest problems with this unit is missed tackles. The Saints defense, per PFF, has missed a massive 99 tackles so far this season. For comparison, the Saints defense a year ago missed 133 tackles. Extrapolate the 99 missed tackles so far over 17 games would equal  153 missed tackles on the year. 

I highlight these missed tackles so significantly because if they can’t tackle well in this game, the 49ers’ offense will punish that more than other teams might. San Fran’s strength in the passing game is yards after the catch (YAC). See the YAC stats for the 49ers top five reception leaders.

  • Brandon Aiyuk; 46 receptions, averaging 5.3 YAC per reception. 
  • Deebo Samuel; 40 receptions, averaging 8.9 YAC per reception (wow).
  • George Kittle; 33 receptions, averaging 6.8 YAC per reception.
  • Christian McCaffrey; 21 receptions, averaging 8.7 YAC per reception.
  • Jauan Jennings; 18 receptions, averaging 6.3 YAC per reception.

It’s not unusual for stud pass-catching backs to have high YAC numbers, but for players like Deebo and Kittle to be averaging what they are is flat-out scary for this Saints defense.  For context of how good these numbers are. Here are the Saints three leaders in receptions outside of RBs. (Chris Olave,  Juwan Johnson, and Jarvis Landry) YAC per reception. 

  • Chris Olave; 51 receptions, averaging 2.7 YAC per reception.
  • Juwan Johnson; 31 receptions, averaging 3.6 YAC per reception.
  • Jarvis Landry; 21 receptions, averaging 2.3 YAC per reception.

The 49ers offense is built around this ability and is part of the reason they acquire certain players to fit this kind of passing offense. Deebo Samuel alone nearly gets an extra first down’s worth of yardage per catch.

The Saints improved slightly last week but still missed far too many tackles, and if that continues this week, then it’s likely to be a long day for the Saints.

Taysom Hill Vs The 49ers Stingy Defense 

The 49ers have the best defense in the league; if they aren’t first, it’s pretty close. They have allowed the fewest rushing yards and allowed the lowest yards per carry in the league. They rank seventh in the league in passing yards allowed.

I already detailed Nick Bosa’s dominance earlier. Unfortunately for the Saints he’s not alone. The 49ers boast one of the best pass rushes in the league, have two excellent linebackers ( Warner and Greenlaw), and a stellar secondary led by standout CB Charvarius Ward who’s played at a pro-bowl level, so far this year and second-year breakout safety Talanoa Hufanga.

The 49ers have all the tools to make it very difficult for the Saints to use the ‘Taysom Hill’ package effectively. For the Saints to have a chance to win this game, that package needs to be effective, and Taysom needs to be on the field making plays.

I discussed the link between Hill’s success and the Saints in my recap of the Saints win Vs. the Rams.

So I won’t rehash that here, but in essence, the Saints are 3-1 in games where Hill has had 10+ snaps at QB and 3-0 when he’s had nine or more rushing attempts in the game. So Hill’s success/usage this season is directly linked to how the Saints perform.

Therefore, the Saints have to make sure not to abandon plays with Taysom if they fall behind like we’ve seen plenty of times this season, and make sure to have a varied and creative gameplan in place to keep the defense from loading the box as soon as Taysom is in at QB because that will not result in success for the Saints against a defense as talented as the 49ers.

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Four Takeaways From A Much-Needed New Orleans Saints Victory Vs. The Rams

Does this victory turn around the Saints Season? Sadly, I don’t think so, but crucially it stopped the bleeding for now. However, one thing is for sure. It was just nice to see some positive plays and the Saints winning a game, especially against the Rams.

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Andy Dalton’s Best Game As A Saint?

This is the game the Saints want to see from Dalton every week; no, he’s not going to complete 84% of his passes every week whilst averaging 10.4 yards per attempt. But playing turnover-free football, getting the ball out quickly, taking what the defense gives you, with the odd big play sprinkled in, is exactly what the Saints want from their QB.

Speaking of getting the ball out quickly, Dalton’s time to throw (TTT) in this game per Next Gen Stats was 2.16 seconds. To put that into perspective, that was the third-quickest TTT any QB has had all season. Ironically four of the top five in that category have been against the Rams. Clearly, there is a blueprint out for the Rams’ defense. It’s also not a surprise Dalton resorted to this plan with the Saints down three of their starting five o-lineman.

Dalton has played mistake-free football in other games since taking over as the Saints starting QB, so what makes this game his best so far? There wasn’t even a sniff of a turnover. In other games, he’s gotten away with a throw that should have been picked off. In this game, there was none of that. Dalton operated with pinpoint accuracy and found his playmakers in key moments. 

He also probably made his best throw as a Saint, on third and nine, with Aaron Donald bearing down on him. He uncorked a beautiful deep ball to Chris Olave, who had flown past all-pro CB Jalen Ramsey resulting in a 53-yard touchdown. This came at a crucial time in the game after momentum could have easily been shifting back to the Rams. A failed trick play by New Orleans on first down resulted in a 17-yard sack. Dalton got all of that yardage back with a nice throw to Juwan Johnson on second down, and then that throw capped it off to give the Saints back the lead.

Does this performance mean Dalton will be the starter for the rest of the year? Normally you’d think yes, but the Saints are still 4-7. I really think it’s still a week-to-week situation for Dalton. Remember, Winston is the only QB under contract after this year, and you have to think the Saints want to see what he looks like in this offense. Now he’s back close to full health. So they can make a concrete decision on his future with the team.

When Taysom Hill Is Successful, So Are The Saints

Hill didn’t light up the stat sheet as he has in previous games this season:

  • 42% of offensive snaps played, 17 snaps at QB ( previous high was 11, in weeks five, six, and eight)
  • One completed pass on three attempts for 14 yards.
  • Nine rushes for 52 yards (5.8 average), zero TDs.
  • One reception for 8 yards on one target.

There’s nothing crazy about these stats; however, it does provide the Saints with consistent production and a way to keep the defense guessing.

With a deeper look at these stats, you can see a pattern emerging. In games where Taysom has taken ten+ snaps at QB, the Saints are 3-1. In games this season where Hill has nine or more rushing attempts, the Saints are 3-0.

Does that mean the Saints just need to give Taysom those snaps and make sure he rushes that many times and they will win? No, unfortunately not, but what it does mean is the Saints need to make sure they continue to find ways to keep Hill involved and make sure they are consistently evolving the plays they used with him to keep this Hill package from becoming stale, predictable, and easy to defend.

Is Kaden Ellis The Best Defensive Player In The League?

Sorry to get your hopes up, but no, he isn’t. Not yet, anyway. However, if Ellis kept up his level of play from the last two weeks for the rest of the season, he would be right up there with the best defensive players in the league.

That’s how good Ellis played yesterday and against the Steelers a week ago. Ellis was everywhere again yesterday. He excelled rusher the passer with 1.5 sacks and four total QB pressures. He led the Saints defense in tackles with 11. Is that it? No, he was also a beast in run defense, with six defensive stops, which was the most in the game for either side.

This is all very impressive. However, the area of Ellis’ game that might be the biggest surprise and strength? His skills in coverage. Ellis was targeted three times, giving up two receptions for 22 yards, both to Tyler Higbee is one of the better receiving TEs around. On his other target, Ellis nearly made an incredible play for an interception but couldn’t quite make the catch.

The play that was most impressive, though, didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Ellis was playing what looked like zone coverage in the middle of the field. He noticed a crossing route behind him, helped cover it, and took the route out of the play. This is particularly important as this is a route the Saints have traditionally struggled with. Ellis also did the same against a similar-looking play against the Steelers.

The Saints Throwback Uniforms Might Be Their Best Look 

Did you click on this article for pure football takes? Sorry to disappoint, but there is a clear takeaway from yesterday’s game, the Saints throwback uniforms and helmets are beautiful and should be in rotation every year. 

Quick Hits

  • Olave was great again today and is the best rookie WR from this year’s draft.
  • Juwan Johnson is really emerging at TE, especially in the Redzone ( five TDs in his last five games)
  • Landry also had his best game as a Saints since week 1
  • Carl Granderson really stepped up with all the injuries on D-line, 1.5 sacks, and multiple plays in the run game.
  • Paulson Adedo had his best game of the season, and rookie Alontae Taylor looked good again.
  • Punter Blake Gillikin has strung together to great games after a rough start to the season.
  • Chris Harris had a rough game not just because of the Tutu Atwell deep bomb ( i think that was as much the safeties fault as Harris) he got picked on all day.
  • The tackling on defense was still a problem but improved over recent weeks.
  • Only two penalties for the Saints

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5 things to look out for in Week 11

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Week 11 sees the NFL return to Mexico, a key AFC East battle, and a few crucial players potentially return from injury

1. Can Jeff Saturday go 2-0 as the Colts welcome the 8-1 Eagles to Indianapolis?

The Philadelphia Eagles’ hopes for an unbeaten season were ended on Monday night after a 32-21 loss at home to the Washington Commanders.

Colts Interim HC Jeff Saturday won his first-ever game as an NFL coach on Sunday, against the Raiders in a game that featured a rare Matt Ryan 40-yard run, only days after being an analyst for ESPN.

What makes Saturday’s achievement even more spectacular than your average new interim coach bounce is the fact that he has no play-calling experience whatsoever and has only previously operated at high school level.

2. Will the New England Patriots catapult themselves into contention for the AFC East with a win vs the New York Jets?

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Every team in the AFC East not only has a winning record but also would be in the playoffs if they started today.

After upsetting the Bills 20-17 two weeks ago, the Jets are back from a bye, refreshed and travel to New England for a must-win game to help their playoff push.

New England were victorious 22-17 as the away team in their Week 8 meeting, a win for Bill Belichick’s team puts them within a chance of being unexpectedly right in the mix late in the year.

3. Who’s better, the 6-3 Cowboys or 8-1 Vikings?

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The Dallas Cowboys are 6-3, they have however had one of the easiest schedules in the league this season, that changes on Sunday as they face the 8-1 Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota, like Dallas, had many questioning their legitimacy but came away from Buffalo with a win in dramatic fashion, silencing their doubters.

Kevin O’Connell’s team are able to grind out wins, every victory in their current seven-game streak is by one score, they’ll be a real challenge for the Cowboys.

4. Will SNF see the Los Angeles Chargers get their playoff push back on track with a win at home to the Kansas City Chiefs?

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Justin Herbert may get the added boost of having Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back to help him go toe to toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.

Allen’s hamstring injury initially occurred in Week 1, before suffering a setback on his return in week 7, the same game that Williams went down with a high ankle sprain.

Kansas City have only scored less than 20 points once all year, but are without Mecole Hardman and Juju Smith-Schuster going into this one.

5. Will Kyler Murray be back for the fifth and final international game of 2022?

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Mexico City hosts two NFC West teams as the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers go head-to-head at Estadio Azteca on MNF.

Kyler Murray could be back for Arizona, but if he’s not, their backup QB Colt McCoy is coming off a big game in Los Angeles, where the Cards came away 27-17 winners over the Rams.

A win for San Francisco will see them overtake Seattle for the lead of the division, and in the driving seat for a home playoff game. 

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Analysing Three Key New Orleans Saints Matchups Vs. The Equally Depleted LA Rams 

At one time, this would have been a marque matchup in the NFL. The winner of this game would likely end up with the number one seed in the NFC and be one of the favorites for the Superbowl.

This season, how the mighty have fallen, both teams ravished with injuries, staring down the barrel of an aging roster and limited resources to inject fresh, younger talent into teams that really need it.

Of course, both teams want to win this game, but how much does it matter in the bigger picture? With the Saints at 3-7 and the Rams at 3-6, Compare to the stakes of years gone by, this game has an unusual feel of unimportance.  

With prideful stars on each team, I doubt they feel like these teams’ seasons are lost, so let’s look at three key matchups for the Saints on Sunday.

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Saints Backup Offensive Line Vs Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is one of the biggest nightmares for offensive coaches to plan, even if the team is at full strength on the offensive line. If the Saints injury report continues in the same vein, then they will be far from full strength.

As it stands, they will be down three of their five day-one starters. Starting LT James Hurst is currently still in concussion protocol and is not practicing. When a player is not practicing this late into the week whilst in the concussion protocol, it is usually a near certainty that they will not be playing.

Starting LG Andrus Peat is also not practicing due to a Triceps injury that kept him out of last week’s game, so it looks very unlikely that he will be playing this week. Add to that starting center Erik McCoy is on injured reserve and is for at least the next three games after missing the games Vs. Pittsburgh last week. That leaves the Saints very shorthanded at a position group that was one of their lone strengths earlier in the season. 

The expected replacements Landon Young (LT), Josh Andrews (C), and Calvin Throckmorton (LG) did not fill anyone with much confidence in last week’s game against the Steelers. The Steelers have plenty of talent on the d-line, including T.J. Watt, who’s as dominant of a player as Donald, but Watt generally didn’t line up against the replacement players too often. He spent much of his time facing off with incumbent starting RT Ryan Ramczyk.

Donald can and will regularly line up against the replacement players at center and LG., which presents a massive set of issues for the line and the Saints coaches to try and prepare for. It’s vital that they contain Donald as much as humanly possible, as in recent weeks when the blocking has broken down in both the passing and running game, the offense has ground to a complete halt. 

Saints Running Game Vs Rams Defense

As we’ve already highlighted, the Saints will again be down many key starters on the offensive line this week. Against the Steelers, this meant they struggled to create any meaningful offense. That struggle was massively due to the dis-functions on the offensive line, meaning the offense could not establish any running game.

Without a run game, this offense led by QB Andy Dalton is not potent enough to be successful. They need to be able to pick up solid yardage on early down carries to make third-down conversions easier. This team struggles hugely when it ends up in third and long, which frequently happens when they can’t run the ball.

Also, the offenses main weapons, outside of rookie sensation Chris Olave are Alvin Kamara, and Taysom Hill, both of these players are predominantly deployed in the rushing attack. Though they both should be a massive part of the passing game, the Saints have struggled in recent weeks to keep them involved in this area.

 The Saints depleted rushing attack face another stiff test this week with a strong Rams run defense. They rank 5th in the league (tied with the Jets) with a stingy 4 YPC allowed to opposing offenses. Led by hall of fame LB Bobby Wagner and the previously mentioned Aaron Donald.

A stand-out stat from looking at the Rams run defense, per PFF, they have only missed 21 tackles in run defense this year, which is incredibly low. The 49ers, who are allowing a league-low 3.4 YPC, have missed 25. The Saints, who were once the league’s best-run defense, have missed a massive 49 tackles whilst defending the run this season. This stat shows one of the Saints biggest issues that’s caused a huge drop in their production against the run this year.

if we look at the top two players from each team from LB and the D-line regarding tackles in the run game, some more Saints issues show up.


Cam Jordan- 20 tackles, six missed tackles, 16.7% missed tackle rate.

Pete Werner- 32 tackles, four missed tackles, 8.7% missed tackle rate.


Aaron Donald- 27 tackles, one missed tackle,2.8% missed tackles rate.

Bobby Wagner- 24 tackles, zero missed tackles.

This shows where the Saints are failing against the run and where the Rams are massively succeeding. The Saints have to find a way to overcome their disadvantages and establish the run this weekend. Otherwise, it will be another very long day for the offense.

Saints Front Four Vs Matthew Stafford 

The Saints pass rush has shown signs of life in recent weeks. It does look like they will be without Marcus Davenport again this week and could be without ironman DE Cameron Jordan who’s not been practicing due to a nasty eye injury. However, Payton Turner and David Onyemata have played much better in recent weeks giving the d-line a bit more depth.

The front four’s play is crucial this week. As it appears, blitzing Rams QB, Matt Stafford actually does the defense more harm than good. Below are Matt Stafford’s passing stats (provided by PFF) when under pressure and not when he’s blitzed and when he’s not.

What you can clearly see is Stafford’s play so far this year has been its best when he’s been blitzed, and Stafford has struggled a lot more when under pressure (not from the blitz) or when he’s been kept clean.

Meaning the Saints need to win up front without blitzing. This should not be a problem considering the Rams are actually more injured on their offensive line than the Saints. The Rams have six offensive linemen on IR, with at least three of those being starters at some point this year and others who would have been starters with the current injuries.

Even if the Saints are down some key starters, they SHOULD still have enough up-front to make Matthew Stafford struggle, especially when we won’t have the quick throw to Cooper Kupp available with Kupp also out this game.

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Please let me know your feedback on this article and the others throughout the season. I’m always looking to improve and add things that people want to read about!

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