It only took the NFL two weeks to give us the highly-anticipated rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A majority of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Current odds have the Rams as 3-point favorites at home with an over/under of 54 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 2 NFL odds.
In recent years, the Saints have been plagued by slow starts to the season, but they were able to avoid that in Week 1, barely. New Orleans trailed Houston at home 21-10 midway through the third quarter. They scored 17 straight points to take the lead, only to give the lead back two plays later. But Drew Brees led the Saints down the field in the final 37 seconds to set up a 58-yard field goal from Will Lutz to win it.
Of course, it doesn’t get any easier for the Saints moving forward. They will finish the month of September by playing three more teams that were in the playoffs last season in the Rams, Seahawks, and Cowboys, with the first two games being on the road. Things ease up after that, but New Orleans will surely be tested in September.
As for the Rams, they will happy about surviving a difficult road game against the Panthers in Week 1. Los Angeles was able to build a 16-3 lead early in the second half but ended up barely hanging on in a 30-27 win. There’s obviously some history of Super Bowl losers getting off to a slow start the following season, but the Rams were able to avoid such a fate in Week 1.
However, the Rams now have the challenge of playing a Saints team that is no doubt still bitter about the controversial call that deprived them of a trip to the Super Bowl. New Orleans will be looking for some kind of redemption for that loss. It’s also worth noting that the Saints won an entertaining 45-35 against the Rams last November. I don’t think anyone would complain about a repeat of that game.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue what team is going to win this game. The home team is favored by three points, which makes it more or less a coin flip. However, I do feel confident that the teams will combine for over 54 points. Both sides looked good offensively but also a little vulnerable defensively in Week 1. It’s early in the season, so I don’t think either side will have a problem airing it out turning this into a shootout.
The biggest question facing the Rams during the offseason was the health of Todd Gurley after he clearly wasn’t healthy during the playoffs. After not playing in the preseason, Gurley looked plenty healthy in Week 1, racking up 97 yards on just 14 carries. He didn’t get overloaded with touches, but he was productive when he was in the game. The Rams also gave 11 carries to Malcolm Brown, who was also productive and found the end zone twice.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans defense had a difficult time containing the Houston rushing attack in Week 1. Even if you take away Deshaun Watson’s rushing yards, the Saints still gave up 140 yards to Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson on just 19 carries. That doesn’t bode well for their chances of keeping Gurley and Brown contained this week.
For what it’s worth, Jared Goff was far from his best last week, connecting on only 23 of his 39 passes for less than 200 yards. But that’s not something that will likely be a regular occurrence for Goff and the Los Angeles passing game. The Rams simply have too many talented receivers on their roster. It’s also worth pointing out that they scored 30 points against a solid Carolina defense even with Goff having a subpar game.
On the other side, the New Orleans offense was clicking in Week 1. Both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray averaged over seven yards per carry on the ground. Brees also had a strong outing, as both Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn had over 100 yards receiving. Ginn is key because he’s a notable deep threat and helps take some of the focus away from Thomas. If the Saints can continue to get that kind of productivity out of him, the offense will continue to flourish.
Of course, it must be noted that the Los Angeles defense had some issues last week despite holding the Panthers to just three points in the first half. The Rams ended up conceding 24 points in the second half and having a world of trouble slowing down Christian McCaffrey. If they struggled with McCaffrey, it stands to reason that they’ll have similar issues keeping Kamara contained this week.
Ultimately, choosing the over for this game is a lot easier than picking a winner. Both teams scored 30 points in Week 1, and if each replicates that in Week 2, taking the over will be the right call. We know that both teams are loaded with offensive talent, but more importantly, neither defense inspired much confidence in Week 1, which is why I’m taking the over.