Check out the Saints vs. Rams action at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
OFFENSE: There are a handful of options here, and none would be wrong. There's a lot of "right" going on when a team scores 49 points against a defense that, entering the game, only was allowing 18.7 points per game. Quarterback Drew Breeswas masterful in the face of the Los Angeles Rams' continuous blitzing, with 28 completions in 36 attempts for 310 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception. Running back Mark Ingramshowed no ill effects from being knocked out cold in the Carolina game; 14 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown, and a 21-yard touchdown catch. Receiver Michael Thomas(nine catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, including the 21-yarder on which he sidestepped one defender inside the 10-yard line, and dragged another into the end zone) is going to be a first-team all-rookie and he very well could finish the season as the team's leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The offensive line continues to serve and protect at a high level even though left tackle Terron Armsteadagain could not finish the game due to injury – the Saints had 555 total yards, converted six of 13 times on third down, were perfect in the red zone (5 for 5) and controlled the ball for 35:56. But this sticker is reserved for the architect of the Saints' offense, Coach Sean Payton. You don't have to ask why; if you're a Saints fan, you already know.
DEFENSE: Either safety Kenny Vaccarois having his best season, or my eyes are lying to me. And he has five more regular-season games to improve on what he's doing. Sunday's game was indicative of the kind of impact he has been making this season, one in which numbers (four tackles, an interception and a pass defensed) don't summarize his activity and presence. On back-to-back defensive stands in the third quarter, first he intercepted his second pass of the season to end a Rams drive, then he made a solo tackle on third-and-4, stopping Rams receiver Brian Quicka yard short and helping force a Los Angeles punt. We could've gone with linebacker Dannell Ellerbehere (five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry), or defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins(a sack for minus-17 yards and a forced fumble that was recovered by defensive end Paul Kruger, plus a quarterback hurry), or defensive end Cam Jordan(he sacked fellow Cal alum Jared Goff, had a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and four tackles). But Vaccaro managed to separate himself as the Saints defense warmed to the task, pitching a shutout in the second half after allowing 21 points in the first two quarters.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Safety Shiloh Keodidn't save the day when he recovered a muffed punt by Tommylee Lewisat the end of the third quarter – the Saints were leading 42-21 at the time – but he preserved possession for the Saints, who then mounted an 81-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the fourth quarter. That, along with two special teams tackles, is enough to earn this week's sticker. Otherwise, the high point was in the fact that the Saints didn't have a kick blocked; that's a trend they want to continue.