Tunnel Vision

NFC Game Of The Week

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams

Saints: I think I’ll start referring to them as the comeback kids. What a game that was on Monday night in New Orleans! Football really is a tale of two halves and that’s what we got in the Superdome to open the year up. In the first half of the game, the Houston Texans were really taking control of things in the first half. At first, I was concerned because their defense was lacking intensity and across the board in each tier of the defense, they were looking defeated early on. Then, I said to myself, this game is far from over. Especially with Drew Brees under center. The second half comes around and there the Saints are right back in the game. He may be up there in age (40 years old), but he’s still more than capable of getting the job done when you need him too. We saw a back and forth game with Houston taking the lead late, then the Saints got the ball back in the hands of Drew and he was surgical on that last drive. When you’ve been around the game if he has, you just know what to do in these last-minute situations. That was some of the best 40 something seconds of football I’ve seen in a while. He knew exactly where he had to get the team for Will Lutz to kick the ball and he walks it off for them with a 58-yard field goal. The Saints are still one of the most potent offenses in the league. I’m worried about their defense because they just sit back in zone coverage expecting to come away with a takeaway and you can’t always expect to win games doing one thing. This is a game that they’ve had circled on their calendars since the schedules were released in April.

Rams: The great teams find different ways to win games. Whether it’s the blow outs or the close games. Or, winning ugly. That’s exactly what the defending NFC champs did on Sunday in Charlotte. The Carolina Panthers gave them everything they could handle for most of the game, but the Rams pulled away. Let me explain the difference one player can make on an offense. When Cooper Kupp went down with the torn ACL last season, Jared Goff looked like a different guy on the field. I didn’t see the confidence in his passes. Every quarterback has that safety valve. Brady has James White, Rivers has Travis Benjamin, Brees has Alvin Kamara and Jared Goff has Cooper Kupp. He’s the first read he makes on the field after the football is snapped. It’s tough to replace a guy that caught five catches a game and averages 75 yards. He made an impact in the win over the Panthers with seven receptions and 46 yards. If you want to claim the NFC, you must go through Los Angeles to do so. Sean McVay has done such a tremendous job with this team and has established himself as one of the best coaches in the league. Look what he’s been able to do with Jared that Jeff Fisher couldn’t do. They had a few lapses on defense though. I didn’t see a lot of pressure applied on Cam Newton or when it was coming, he was able to escape. It’s the NFC champs home opener on Sunday with a rematch!

Saints Player To Watch: Latavius Murray– Alvin Kamara is great at what he does. But if you need someone to give you some hard running in between the tackles, this is your guy. He’ll get you those hard-fought yards when presented the chance. This was a good signing for the Saints to replace Mark Ingram.

Rams Player To Watch: Clay Matthews– This name looks familiar I’m sure. The long-time Green Bay Packer is now a member of the Rams. I think he can revitalize his career under Wade Phillips. This is a scarier front seven of the Rams if he’s at it. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers on the edge, Dante Fowler and Clay? That’s a lot of toughness for one team to handle.

Final Analysis: Well, here we go. the last time we saw these two play, it was back in January for the NFC title. Then, we got to witness “the call that wasn’t”. Who knows what would’ve happened if the flag was thrown for an obvious pass interference? The Saints probably score the go-ahead touchdown, win the game and advance to the Super Bowl but it didn’t work out that way. I see New Orleans coming into this one with a serious chip on their shoulder. They must play smarter defensively and not just depend on the takeaways. Get after Goff and do something to limit Kupp. The Rams defensive line will need to be dialed in which I’m sure they will be. I’d mix my looks up in the front. Stunts and pressure to rattle Brees.

Prediction: Rams 28 Saints 21