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New Orleans Saints key ingredients to victory against Rams | 2022 NFL Week 11

Penalties and turnovers have plagued team all season

New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 10 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 10 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New Orleans Saints have lost four of their last five entering Sunday's game against the Rams in the Caesars Superdome, but with seven games remaining, the glimmer of hope remains for New Orleans (3-7). The NFC South Division title still is in play, but it'll only stay that way if the Saints are able to string together some wins. That's the obvious goal on Sunday against last season's Super Bowl champions, and here are a few ways the Saints can do it:

1. HEAL THYSELF: Not in terms of available bodies because, unfortunately, the multi-week injuries simply are what they are. Like any other team, New Orleans has to line up and play with who it has. But the Saints simply have to play smarter and cleaner. Ten penalties against the Steelers – six by the defense, each of which led to a first down and several of which kept alive drives – is an alarming amount. Two more turnovers, interceptions that pushed the team to an NFL-worst minus-12 in turnover differential, tossed gasoline on it. If the Saints can just not beat themselves, they'll have a much better chance of beating the opponent.

2. TO THE MATT: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is returning to the lineup this week after sitting out the last game due to a concussion. In four of his eight starts, opponents have sacked Stafford at least four times. New Orleans needs to join in the brigade. The Saints have 21 sacks this season, and that number can rise on Sunday. Linebacker Kaden Elliss has one in each of the last two games, and linebacker Demario Davis still leads the team with six. But New Orleans won't have defensive end Cameron Jordan, who will miss his first career game with an actual injury (the other was missed due to Covid protocol), and that's huge. Still, this could be the type of game where New Orleans' pass rush feasts, especially against a team that has had trouble protecting all season. Of course, the Saints will have to show first that they can stop the run, and that has been a different issue altogether. But when Stafford passes, he has been vulnerable and this week, he's without receiver Cooper Kupp, last year's NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

3. A THIRD PARTY: Coming off a loss to the Steelers in which the offense only managed to maintain possession for 21:04, it's glaring that New Orleans has to be better on third down (3 of 12 against Pittsburgh). If you can't run the ball – 29 rushing yards on 15 attempts against the Steelers – it's going to be very, very difficult to maintain possession. Whether the Saints use the pass to set up the run, or if they simply run more effectively, they have to put themselves into third down situations that are manageable, and then convert them. The Rams allow 96.1 rushing yards per game, fourth fewest in the league, but the Saints still need to gain some traction on the ground.

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4. DUCK DONALD: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the best in the business. If he spends half his time behind the Saints' line of scrimmage, that'll probably be an unfortunate tell to the kind of day the Saints' offense is having. Center Erik McCoy is out, so Josh Andrews, Louis Kidd and Cesar Ruiz will have to hold up on the interior.

5. SPECIAL DAY A.K.: There's no sugarcoating where New Orleans' offense begins and ends. When running back Alvin Kamara gets touches, the offense functions best. The offense was at its best during a four-game stretch when he averaged 25 touches for 145 yards. Feed him early, feed him often and take advantage when the Rams overcompensate for his presence.

The New Orleans Saints will wear throwback uniforms for their 2022 Week 11 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams at the Caesars Superdome on Sunday, November 20.

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