The New Orleans Saints aren’t in a good place right now as they are tied for last in the NFC South at 3-7. A team that has been even more disappointing in the Los Angeles Rams will pay a visit to the Caesars Superdome on Sunday. Here are five things to look out for:
1) HOW DOES MATTHEW STAFFORD LOOK:
To begin this week’s practices, Stafford was recovering from a concussion and will likely start on Sunday. Someone he won’t have on the field is his favorite target, Cooper Kupp. 75 of Stafford’s 195 completions this season have gone to Kupp and I wonder who he will rely on the most as he escapes pressure or is trying to pick up a key first down. Tight End Tyler Higbee is second on the team in catches, targets, and yards. New Orleans ranks first in the league as they give up under four catches, and 33 yards, and just one touchdown to the position thus far. Also, Higbee has yet to reach pay dirt this season and the last time he scored in the regular season was January 9th, 2022 versus the 49ers.
2) OFFENSIVE LINE INJURIES:
Something that’ll affect both quarterbacks will be their offensive lines. We’ve seen plenty of injuries for both units with the Saints announcing that James Hurst will miss his second game. Andrus Peat is questionable with a triceps injury and Erik McCoy still being on IR. Los Angeles, they’ve got some linemen on IR as well like Joe Noteboom and David Andrews. Center Brian Allen has been dealing with a thumb all week and has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest. Both teams are hurting in the trenches so we will have to see which team comes up with the better game plan to combat this deficiency.
3) EMPHASIS ON THE RUN GAME:
The Saints will be missing multiple linemen on the offensive and defensive side like previously mentioned McCoy and Hurst. Others like Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport will be missing for sure for New Orleans on defense. If coach Pete Carmichael wants to give Andy Dalton and the offense the best chance to win they will need to establish the run game early and often. Getting Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill the ball with plenty of touches will allow them to control the clock and slow down Rams players like Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd from reaching the quarterback as often.
4) KADEN ELLIS STARTING AGAIN:
Ellis has found himself in a starting role as Pete Werner is recovering from surgery. The 27-year-old came up big in his first game as a starter against the Steelers last Sunday. In that game, he had seven total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and saved a touchdown as he was out in coverage versus Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris. The Black and Gold will look for similar production out of the Idaho product on Sunday as he has shown growth as a player and has the ability to make an impact on the field.
5) SPECIAL TEAMS EXECUTION:
Neither team’s offense has been super successful in 2022. This game may come down to field position battles, whether the punt teams or field goal units are lining up to knock it through the uprights. A single good punt return by either the Rams or Saints or a muffed punt or kickoff could turn the tide and give that squad all the momentum for the rest of the game.
Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday at 12:00 p.m.