TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: New Orleans Saints At St. Louis Rams

New Orleans Saints
St. Louis Rams
(credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner The Saints appear to be obvious favorites in this game, but there are no guarantees that New Orleans will match the effort it had against the Panthers in Week 14. Drew Brees is certainly capable of taking apart the Rams’ defense with his accurate passing and his ability to read defenses, but it’s difficult to see St. Louis coming up with a monumental effort in this game.
The Rams have been struggling since Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury. Backup Kellen Clemens is playing with the requisite effort and he has had some good moments, but he has a difficult time being productive on a consistent basis. If Clemens is going to be effective, he needs the St. Louis running game and defense to play well.
Offense
Winner The Saints have been getting some production from Pierre Thomas, but with 500 yards, a 3.9 yards per carry mark and just one TD, he’s not an elite back. The key to the Saints’ offense is the play of tight end Jimmy Graham. He is an explosive touchdown machine who is usually at his best when the game is on the line. Marques Colston is a solid possession receiver.
The Rams need to get their running game going against the Saints, and that means Zac Stacy must be aggressive. He struggled badly against the Cardinals as he was held to 25 yards in 14 carries. Tight end Jared Cook has been a solid red zone and third down target for the Rams, while explosive Tavon Austin may be the fastest wide receiver in the league.
Defense
Winner The Saints are at the top of the NFC South largely because their defense has improved so much this year. Rob Ryan has the Saints playing nasty and hard-hitting defense, and they rank sixth overall and third against the pass. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton has come into his own this season as he leads the Saints with 108 stops. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has a team-high 11.5 sacks.
The Rams are capable of playing solid defense, but only when their running game is being productive and taking time off the clock. The Rams rank 19th in overall defense, and nobody is more explosive than defensive end Robert Quinn, who has 13.0 sacks and combines speed with eye-catching moves. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has a team-high 96 tackles and nine passes defensed.
Special Teams
The Saints are fairly productive on special teams as Darren Sproles is capable of giving his team a lift, while the punt and kickoff coverage teams have been consistent. Garrett Hartley has made 21-of-27 FG attempts and this has not been his best season.
Winner Austin’s speed gives him a chance to return any punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The Rams have not allowed opponents to have a punt return of longer than 17 yards. Second-year placekicker Greg Zuerlein has made 20-of-22 FG attempts.

The Winner Is

(credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Winner New Orleans Saints
3 out of 4

The Saints should come back down to earth after a superlative win over the Carolina Panthers. The Rams should be able to keep it close but the Saints will escape with the victory.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the second half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass against the New England Patriots in the game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets

    The Colts are still alive for the playoffs while the Jets are just playing out the string.

  2. OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for several yards on the quarterback keeper during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks

    The Panthers travel to Seattle for a date with the Seahawks.

  3. TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks for a receiver during the third quarter of an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers passes the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
    Week 13 Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers

    The Bucs are in second place in the NFC South and look to keep pace with the Falcons as they match-up with a tough Chargers team.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS St. Louis

Live Inspired
Photography In A Flash
KMOX Podcasts

Listen Live