Game Scout: Saints at Rams

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


New Orleans Saints (10-3) at St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jennifer Hale
*Keys to the game: A ferocious pass rush and the hiccups of Saints LT Charles Brown in protection gives the Rams an alley to upsetting New Orleans. QB Drew Brees' snappy release isn't overplaying, but he has been sacked 26 times in 13 games. When Brees gets time to survey, he's a precision machine. In the red zone, the Rams lack the personnel to slow down TE Jimmy Graham, who has 14 touchdowns among 74 receptions. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan won't stand for the keep-away approach expected from the Rams. He'll crowd the line of scrimmage to stuff Zac Stacy and put the game on Kellen Clemens, who is 2-3 since replacing injured starter Sam Bradford. If Clemens can make throws with defenders in his face and around his feet, TE Jared Cook and others should have opportunities in single coverage.
*Matchup to watch - Rams WR Tavon Austin vs. Saints CB Keenan Lewis: Austin is second on the team with 40 receptions, but has only seven for 73 yards in the past three games. Lewis is arguably the MVP of the New Orleans defense. If the Rams are to keep pace, big plays are required of Austin, who is similar in speed and body type to Saints ultra-back Darren Sproles.
*Player spotlight - Saints LB Junior Gallette: With a three-sack performance against Panthers LT Jordan Gross last week, Gallette has nine on the season and is emerging as New Orleans' top defensive playmaker.
*Fast facts: Rams DEs Robert Quinn and Chris Long have combined for 24.5 sacks in the past 25 games. ... The Saints average 18.3 points on the road this season.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Carson Palmer became the ninth quarterback in 13 games to complete at least 65 percent of his passes against the Rams this season. Drew Brees has a field day playing catch with Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham.
*Our pick: Saints 36-22

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