Rams-Saints: Revisiting our prediction

I know this is a little late arriving, but I’m watching the Rams at halftime, tied 14-all with the mighty New Orleans Saints, and thought it was worth revisiting the RamsHerd preseason prediction for this game:

Week 10: The Jim Haslett Memorial Bowl

Week Date Opponent LY: Record LY: Points 3Y: Record 3Y: Points
10 Nov 1 vs New Orleans Saints 8-8 463/393 25-23 1255/1103
Rams games vs opponent, last three seasons:
Week 10, 2007: Won 37-29 at New Orleans

Not Reggie Bush or Drew Brees

The Saints know they have a problem. Their passing game will be as good as ever this season, maybe better if Marques Colston and Reggie Bush stay healthy for 16 games. All they have to do is fix everything else.
Football Outsiders 2009 Almanac

There’s a strange symmetry going on here. Two years ago, the Rams were winless after eight games, and entered the bye week the hands-down worst team in the NFL. The week-long nap passed, and the Rams roared out against their former divisional opponents for a season-high 37 points. It was a dramatic performance, but its effects were unfortunately short-lived.

The loss dropped the Saints to an uneven 4-5, in what would wind up to be their first losing season since the Katrina season in 2005.

This season, the Saints are expected to be fully reloaded, and likely jousting with the Falcons as the class of the NFC South. In fact, this game follows two home games against two hard-running teams in Atlanta and Carolina, and immediately afterwards, they travel to Tampa. They won’t be able to afford a misstep against a rebuilding team like the Rams.

In short, this is a classic “trap” game. One that the Rams should have no business winning, but just might anyway.

Two factors will weigh heavily on this game: 1) the Rams’ blitz pickup, as new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is an aficionado of bringing the house; and 2) the rehabilitation of Donnie Avery (foot) and Laurent Robinson (career), as the Saints’ defensive backs can be beaten deep, for both big-play pass completions and untimely penalties. Having a bye week to rest up — and eight weeks of Saints’ game film to study — gives the Rams an edge in both categories. A third factor, one that can’t be gameplanned for — Reggie Bush on special teams — could overshadow both.

This game could swing either way, and will keep fans in their seats all the way to the finish. Let’s call it 31-30 Saints and keep our true optimism in our hip pocket.

So far, so good. Just replace Laurent Robinson for new addition Brandon Gibson, and make the Saints the clear class of the NFC South, and the game is going according to script. Surprising, no?