The New Orleans Saints (10-3) travel to the St. Louis Rams (5-8) for a 3:25 CT kickoff this Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. A win by New Orleans will put them back in the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The Saints enter the contest with the Rams following an impressive 31-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Most importantly, the critical victory put New Orleans one game ahead of the Panthers in the race for the NFC South title, as the two clubs will meet again on December 22.
The turning point for New Orleans in the Panthers victory was a nearly flawless second quarter, as they outscored the Panthers 21-0 and outgained them 181-31. Quarterback Drew Breescompleted 14-of-16 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Marques Colstonand one with 18 seconds left in the half to tight end Jimmy Graham.
Overall Brees completed 30-of-42 passes for 313 yards with four touchdowns and a 124.4 passer rating as he became only the fifth player in NFL record books to have 50,000 career passing yards. Colston had a season-high nine receptions for 125 yards with two TDs. Graham surpassed the 1,000 receiving yard mark for the season, as he posted six grabs for 58 yards with two TDs.
An efficient Saints offense converted 7-of-12 third down attempts, while a stingy defense held the Panthers to only 239 total net yards, including only 111 through the air.
An aggressive Saints defense was powered by a pass rush that sacked quarterback Cam Newtonfive times. Outside linebacker Junior Galettehad a career-high three quarterback takedowns, while defensive end Cameron Jordanadded two sacks. With a career-high 11.5 sacks on the season, Jordan is tied for fourth in the NFL. Inside linebacker Curtis Loftonchipped in ten tackles (eight solo) to up his team-leading total to 120.
The 5-8 Rams dropped a 30-10 decision at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. St. Louis has remained in the NFC Wild Card playoff race despite the loss of quarterback Sam Bradfordto a season-ending knee injury. New Orleans' offensive line will face a stiff challenge from an aggressive Rams pass rush, led by the duo of defensive ends Robert Quinnand Chris Longwho have recorded 13 and 6.5 sacks respectively.
The New Orleans offense is ranked sixth in the NFL in net yards per game and tied for seventh in scoring. Defensively, the Saints have produced a unit that has rebounded from ranking 32nd in opponent net yards and 31st in scoring defense to rank sixth and fifth in the respective categories in 2013, with a stingy pass defense ranked third in the league.