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The Sports Daily > The Saints Nation
Saints Nation Mailbag with Chris Smith

Well Saints fans, the Saints are 8-2 and for the first time in 3 seasons we can finally say for certainty that the team we all love, finally, is having a winning season. At worst the Saints will be going 8-8 but the way this team is playing 11-5 or 12-4 seems more likely. So I put it out there in the twitterverse for questions and you guys didn’t disappoint. So here are your questions…

 

 

Cause for concern this week? Yes. Cause for concern for the season? No. Lattimore and Crawley being out is a HUGE blow to this defense but having them sit out against the Rams isn’t the end of the world. Remember that the Saints have to play Carolina next Sunday then follow that up with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night. Having those two healthy and ready for those matchups is way more important for this team than putting them out there banged up against the Rams. Winning the division is more important right now then chasing the number 1 or 2 seeds. While those would be nice, winning the division has to be the focus. Expect PJ Williams and De’vante Harris to start on the outside. The Saints will NEED to control the ball with the running game and keep the Rams offense off of the field as well as the defensive line will have to step up and put pressure on Goff and not let routes develop to help hide the problems in the secondary. I would also expect that Allen will call a lot of Zone calls allowing Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell to help the corners. Not to mention that Vaccaro and Klien will both be back. Thats HUGE as far as getting the correct calls in and everyone being lined up. Those 3 safety sets the Saints seem to love recently aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 

Kupp has been averaging around 5 to 6 catches per game for about 50 yards and with Woods going out Kupp is primed to be the number 1 receiving target for the Rams. You can’t forget about Sammy Watkins either. While the Woods injury definitely hurts this Rams offense I expect Sean McVay to dial-up some plays to show off the strengths of his offense, something he has been extremely well at doing this season. The Rams offense is currently ranked 4th with 40 plays of 20+ yards and 2nd with 9 plays of 40+yards, so containing this explosive offense is going to be critical. Goff is a legit quarterback who knows when and how to change a play but he is also only in his second year and his first year in this system. While he has thrived he also has weaknesses that Dennis Allen will be looking to expose. I expect to see a lot of blitzes and “exotic looks” from the Saints defense to try to confuse the Rams offense.

 

 

Lets clear the air on one thing off the bat…Blake Bortles is NOT a legitimate starting NFL quarterback. And the fact that this team was able to beat the Jaguars speaks volumes of how far this team has come from a year ago. The Jags defense is special. The Rams this season have beaten the Colts, 49ers, Cowboys, Jaguars, Cardinals, Giants and Texans while falling to the Redskins, Seahawks and Vikings. So I get the argument that the Rams haven’t played “anybody” but I also hate that argument. These are still incredible athletes playing in a league that is hard to make it in. Some could argue that the Saints fall into this same category and I think it is ridiculous. On paper in the offseason yes both the Saints and Rams were given easier schedules than that of, lets say, the Seahawks and the Falcons. That’s how the league determines their schedule but as we have seen time and time again things change in this league from one year to the next, unless you are the Patriots, so I hold off to judge strength of schedule until after the season is over. That’s how this game works, teams need good players, good coaching and a lot of damn luck! This Rams team is good.

 

The Harris hate is real with Saints fans and for good reason. But there are two words that describe why he is still on this team. SPECIAL and TEAMS. Harris is a stand out special teams player. In weeks 1 and 2 Harris obviously showed the coaching staff something in training camp that made them have faith in him to start along side Lattimore. That was obviously a mistake and was corrected in week 3 when Crawley got the start over him. The results have been great. The Saints have brought back Sterling Moore which is positive news. However, I expect Harris to get that start with PJ Williams but he will have a short leash with Moore waiting for his number to be called.

 

 

Easy answer… You can never have enough Chris’s.

 

 

Is this even a debate?? Bone-in is clearly the only way you eat wings. Boneless is just glorified chicken nuggets.

 

 

The Saints will have a challenge when they take the field tomorrow. They are facing an explosive Rams offense without the number 1 or 2 corner and their outstanding defensive end in Alex Okafor. The key to winning this game will be ball control. New Orleans needs to rely on Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to run the ball and wear out the LA defense. The offensive line, whose been one of the better lines in all of football, will need to control Aaron Donald and not allow him to disrupt the game. As far as the defensive side goes, they will need to be disciplined and not allow a lot of breakdowns in coverage, tackle well and keep the plays in front of them. Containing Todd Gurley will be critical. If New Orleans can shut down the LA run game, they can win this game.

 

Final Score: Saints- 31 Rams- 26