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Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints: The Professor’s preview

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The Rams’ home opener is against a familiar foe...

Los Angeles Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman successfully defends New Orleans Saints WR Tommylee Lewis with no penalty assessed in the NFC Championship, Jan. 20, 2019. John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Our beloved Los Angeles Rams square off against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in the home opener at the Coliseum. It will be the last home opener for the Rams in this hollowed place of glory and pride.

Last year, the Rams played the Saints three times, each time in New Orleans. The Rams lost two of these games, but won the only one that counted the most: the NFC Championship. The only thing coming out of New Orleans since then is their consistent whining that their Saints got robbed effectively trying to delegitimize our place in history as a participant in Super Bowl LIII.

While the Professor appreciates the passion of the Saints fans, filing lawsuits in Federal and State courts is an overreaction just because the Saints lost to a better team.

As the Louisiana Supreme Court explained in the latest decision dismissing this ridiculousness:

”[W]e find plaintiffs’ purchase of a ticket merely granted them the right of entry and a seat at the game. [W]e find public policy considerations weigh in favor of restricting the rights of spectators to bring actions based on the conduct of officials of professional sporting leagues. ... While we are certainly cognizant of the passion of sports fans, and particularly those who are fans of the New Orleans Saints, the courts are not the proper forum to litigate such disputes.”

As an attorney myself, football fans should be concerned with the reasoning behind the Court’s ruling for this reason: If indeed the outcome of a game has been predetermined by the NFL, then professional football is no better then pro wrestling. The Court’s decision in essence says that the only rights a purchaser of a ticket has is to get a seat in the stadium even if the game is fixed.

The biggest mistake was made by the NFL in trying to placate these crybabies after the game with an official statement that the referees erred with a “no-call” and then throwing more fuel on the fire of irate Saints fans by changing the rules.

The luxury objective Rams fans have is being able to see CB Nickell Robey-Coleman play an entire season since Coleman has an uncanny ability to deceptively avoid the pass interference call while smashing the opponent’s wide receiver in the head which he timely employed in the NFC Championship game by putting Saints WR Tommylee Lewis on a Waffle House frying pan.

For Rams fans who don’t remember seeing a 2018 game when this situation came up, neither do I. But that doesn’t mean it never happened, because that’s beautiful part of NRC’s arsenal of deception—a true magician at the cornerback position.

Nonetheless, this marquee matchup is a must see for Rams fans, a chance for our Rams to prove why they’re the defending 2018 NFC Champions.

I suggest that Rams fans be respectful and understanding of the Saints fans agony. This is easily done by bringing a box of kleenex to the game. Mark it “For New Orleans Saints Fans Only.” Hand them out to anyone dressed in gold and black both before and after the game. If they need more due to excessive tearing up, offer them another one. If that isn’t enough due to the floodgates of despair, just give them the whole box. They’re gonna need it.

So now that we’ve gone over the build up, let’s take a look as to how the Rams are going to send Saints fans crying again.

What the Rams need to do on offense

In my opinion, QB Jared Goff had his best game of his career against the Saints in last year’s NFC Championship. Coming off a lackluster and mediocre performance against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, he’ll need to step up his game against New Orleans.

Goff needs to scan the whole field rather then focusing in on the primary receiver. I’m pretty positive that Head Coach Sean McVay will have that corrected this week after going over the tape. I expect to see a much better performance from Goff this week. He’s front and center after signing his megadeal, and Rams fans aren’t gonna have a lot patience if he’s not making the right read and plays.

Keep in mind that in the games played against the Saints last year, mistakes put the Rams behind the eight ball early. In the championship game, RB Todd Gurley bobbled a pass early which led to an interception and easy score by the Saints forcing the Rams out of their gameplan having to play catch-up down 10-0. This time around rather than having the Rams playing from behind, it’s important to get off to an early lead and make the Saints see if they come up with a second miracle as they did Monday against the Houston Texans. The Rams will go to the run a lot earlier then they did against the Panthers. The Saints have a good front seven, but they’re clearly not as formidable as Carolina’s.

The Texans were able to exploit the Saints secondary with the dink and dunk setting up the long pass play. I like the Rams to employ this same strategy this week against New Orleans. If it worked for Houston, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work the Rams.

As long as the Rams pile up points on each of their offensive possessions and control the clock, this will bode well going into the fourth quarter where the game might be on the line.

What the Rams need to do on defense

The game is going to won or lost based on the Rams’ defensive line play. Getting to Saints QB Drew Brees is the key. Hopefully the Rams can do this without blitzing by bringing DT Aaron Donald to life who was completely missing last week.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara had a monster game against the Texans both in the run and passing game. The Professor thought foolishly that the Rams would be run stoppers this year. It didn’t materialize against the Panthers, so I would expect the Saints will try to exploit this weakness.

What was most impressive in the Rams playoff run to the Super Bowl last year was how well they did against the running games of their opponents. The Rams’ best efforts were against the Dallas Cowboys shutting down RB Ezekiel Elliott and clamping down on Kamara and RB Mark Ingram in the conference championship.

The Rams need to have an equally good performance this week. Hopefully, Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips will have last week’s poor performance against Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey fixed.

The secondary also needs to do a better job then it did last Sunday. Too many key third down plays turned into a new set of downs for the Panthers. Better spacing in zone coverage and less separation in man-to-man are the key.

Rams fans know how good Saints WR Michael Thomas is after burning CB Marcus Peters to toast for the inevitable winning score in the regular season game in New Orleans last year. In the championship after letting the Saints establish a 13-point lead in the first quarter due to some miscues, the Rams’ defense stepped it up holding the mighty Saints offense to just 10 points through the rest of the game. It can be done including blanketing Thomas. The key is to get to Brees early and often. If the Rams can’t get the sack. linemen need to put their arms high in the air. This causes Drew, who is short in stature, to throw off his back foot causing the football to sail over the head of the receiver. EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr., got the pressure in overtime leading to the interception by SS John Johnson III that set up the field goal sending the Rams to Super Bowl LIII.

I am betting on the Rams playing better against the run in this game against the Saints then they did against the Panthers. I also expect that the crowd in the Coliseum is going to make a difference revving up the volume in obvious passing situations unlike the dome where you can hear a pin drop when the Saints have the ball on offense...akin to the sound of silence Rams’ fans heard after K Greg Zuerlein made his 57-yard goal to win the NFC for the Rams.

What the Rams need to do on special teams

The Professor predicts the Saints to come hard and fast when the Rams have to punt. The mistakes last week including the 9-yard net punt the blocked punt have to be fixed.

Until next year, the Rams play on natural grass as opposed to the Superdome’s turf. Outside weather conditions will also play a factor since the Saints home games are all air conditioned. The Rams have a decided advantage in this area just because this game is being played outside in the Los Angeles in the hot September weather without air conditioning.

No fumbles, muffs, kicking the ball out of bounds on kickoffs or chip shot field goal being missed is allowed—let the Saints do that.

Intangibles

Let’s face it, Rams fans have been waiting for this game, at home, since the 2019 schedule came out. I can’t wait for this game. If you can make it to this game, do it. I’ll be there as usual with my boxes filled with appropriately marked cartons of kleenex ready to hand out to the Crescent City crybabies.

Once in the Coliseum, Ram fans need to give the referees a standing ovation as soon as they take the field unlike the disrespectful Saints fans who booed them on Monday.

We’re counting on these guys.

I’m not worried one bit about the outcome of this game. If for some inexplicable reason at the end the Saints have more points then the Rams do, do not fear. My lawsuit is ready to be filed first thing Monday morning when the Court opens.

The Professor’s prediction: a 57-yard field goal in overtime powers the Rams to a win 26-23.

GO RAMS