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What do past TNF games tell us about Rams’ chances vs Saints?

Do home teams have an advantage on Thursday Night Football? How tight have the margins been in 2023?

Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints are preparing for their primetime battle on Thursday Night Football. Both teams are squarely in the NFC playoff picture despite ups and downs along the 2023 season. Los Angeles has defied all odds despite tearing down its star-studded roster and embracing a youth movement. New Orleans is stretching out its contention window for as long as possible, and their offense seems to be hitting its stride with veteran Derek Carr under center.

What can we expect on Thursday night from these two 7-7 teams? It’s worth a look at the previous mid-week games from earlier this season to see if there’s anything we can glean. History does have a tendency to repeat itself. Let’s dive in.

Thursday Night Football Results 2023

Week 1: Lions (21) at Chiefs (20); home loss

Week 2: Vikings (28) at Eagles (34); home win

Week 3: Giants (12) at 49ers (30); home win

Week 4: Lions (34) at Packers (20); home loss

Week 5: Bears (40) at Commanders (20); home loss

Week 6: Broncos (8) at Chiefs (19); home win

Week 7: Jaguars (31) at Saints (24); home loss

Week 8: Buccaneers (18) at Bills (24); home win

Week 9: Titans (16) at Steelers (20); home win

Week 10: Panthers (13) at Bears (16); home win

Week 11: Bengals (20) at Ravens (34); home win

Week 12: Thanksgiving games (3)

49ers (31) at Seahawks (13); home loss

Commanders (10) at Cowboys (45); home win

Packers (29) at Lions (22); home loss

Week 13: Seahawks (35) at Cowboys (41); home win

Week 14: Patriots (21) at Steelers (18); home loss

Week 15: Chargers (21) at Raiders (63); home win

What can we glean from TNF results so far?

Of the 18 games played on Thursday night so far, the home team has come out on top in 10 of them. A 10-8 home record doesn’t suggest an advantage any larger than the typical home-road splits in the NFL.

When you narrow the margin of victory to two-score games, of which there were eight from the list above, the home team won five of those contests. Still, the fact eight of the 18 games were decided by multiple possessions suggests that the margin of victory on Thursday night is generally much wider than we could expect from conventional NFL games.

One of the main factors that may contribute to the wide margin on TNF is player fatigue based on a quick turnaround from a Sunday game. We’ve already heard star receiver Cooper Kupp outline his concerns this week about playing on turf twice within five days. While the Rams’ roster is overall much younger than it has been in years’ past—and they are one of the youngest teams in the league—three of their most important players, Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Matthew Stafford, are in the later stages of their career and could be impacted by the short recovery period.

Thursday’s game is of the upmost important to LA. They need to keep winning in order to stay alive in the NFC playoff race. While each team having a 7-7 record may suggest a evenly-contested game, based on games from earlier this year it may not be overly competitive. Can the Rams take care of the football and build an early lead on the Saints? Or will the turnover struggles from last week continue to show up when the margins are growing ever thin?