After 17 losses in a row, the Rams have now not lost in two consecutive weeks. Hey, by our standards, that’s a winning streak. Ride the wave, Rammies!
Unfortunately, the optimism could come to a crashing halt, as our boys face up against the brilliant New Orleans Saints, who even when they seem to be ready to lose a game, shrug it off at halftime and find this extra gear of pure awesomeness to cruise to victory. Look at their last three weeks:
- Down 24-10 at the half to the Dolphins, who had gained 120 yards rushing before the break against a reputedly tough Saints defense.
- Down 14-7 in the first quarter to the Falcons, and leading by a mere four points midway through the fourth.
- Down 17-6 at the half to the lousy Carolina Panthers.
The Saints went on to win all three games by a combined 30 points. Is there a silver lining for the Rams in these games, or for Fantasy owners of Rams?
What’s interesting is that while the Saints’ defense appears to be increasingly vulnerable to the ground game in these latest three contests. (Mark Hooper at Who Dat Blog pins this on the loss of Scott Fujita.) Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 137 yards on the ground (but only 17 on 7 carries in the second half, as the Dolphins inexplicably stopped running the ball despite being up big), Michael Turner had 151 yards rushing, and Deangelo Williams racked up 149 in these most recent games, and these four combined to score seven TDs.
Drew Brees has also been more careless with the football, throwing five INTs in these last three games, after misplacing only two passes in the Saints’ first five. The Dolphins picked off three, and they are worth a deeper look:
- 1st Quarter: The Saints are backed up inside their own five yard line on a 3rd and 13, and go five wide. The Dolphins rush only three, and still get a hand in Brees’ face, who throws well over his receiver (looks like #83 Billy Miller?). The safety, Culver, is playing deep help and has the ball drop right in his lap.
- 2nd Quarter: Again the Saints go five wide on third down in their own end, but this time the Dolphins bring the house — six men rush, and the linebacker Torbor makes an outstanding play to tip the outlet pass, then haul it in for the pick. Luck borne from aggressive play.
- 3rd Quarter: Again the Saints go five wide on third down, this time knocking on the door of the red zone. All three receivers on the right side go straight for the end zone, and Brees picks on the one covered by the slowest defender — the strong safety Nate Jones (not our Nate Jones). The ball is underthrown slightly, which should be good for the receiver but Jones somehow breaks on the ball and wrestles it away, in what looks like a vintage Atogwe play.
Of course, even this recent bit of vulnerability and carelessness hasn’t been enough to beat them. When they’re scoring nearly 40 points per game, it’s hard to say what would be enough to beat them.
What does this mean for the Rams? Likely another double-digit loss at home to an undefeated team (see Vikings, Minnesota and Colts, Indianapolis), but just as likely a huge day for Steven Jackson once again. Fantasy owners take heed. And listen not to the naysaying voice that says “the Rams are pathetic, all the Saints have to do is stack the box and they’ll contain Jackson.” Teams have tried it all season long, and Jackson has still gotten his yards. Consider this tidbit, courtesy of Khaled Elsayed at ProFootballFocus: in his monster game against the Lions, 119 of his 149 yards came after contact. And his chemistry with Mike Karney has been improving week after week.
Now that he’s finally crossed the plane, he should start getting his points as well. And that’s a wave of mutilation we can all get behind.
And in other fantasy football plays, this might actually be a good week to pick up the Rams’ team defense — or safeties Atogwe or Butler, if you play IDP — especially given how often Brees likes to attack vertically, especially when his receivers are singled up deep on safeties. Regardless of the final score, you could benefit from a spate of turnovers and sacks (Brees has been dropped eight times in three games).