The L.A. Rams (4-6) head to New Orleans for a game versus the Saints (4-6) on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. PST. Both teams are battling to keep their playoff dreams alive. Here are a few predictions for the week 12 NFL matchup.
1. Jared Goff throws for more than 250 yards
The results from quarterback Jared Goff were mixed in his first NFL start since being drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft.
Goff throwing for more than 250 yards versus the Saints should not be a bold prediction. However, he only threw 134 yards in his first career start last week.
As a whole, the Rams rank 28th in passing yards per game with 215 yards via Goff and Case Keenum both leading the offense.
Granted, Goff’s first career start came last week versus Miami. He faced a strong Dolphins defensive front on a rainy day.
This week, Goff faces a Saints defense that ranks No. 27 in yards per game. New Orleans also allows the second most passing yards per game. Plus, the rookie gets ideal conditions playing in a dome.
He also had a good week of practice, per multiple reports. Goff got another week taking reps with the starters.
Therefore, expect Goff to finally showcase some of his arm talents. He might even throw his first career touchdown pass versus the Saints.
2. Todd Gurley rushes for less than 80 yards
2015 first-round pick Todd Gurley has only passed 80 rushing yards in a game twice this season. Currently, Saints’ opponents average more than 102 yards per game versus New Orleans. This might make week 12 a candidate for Gurley’s breakout rushing game. He is expected to play Sunday, despite missing practice with an illness.
Still, don’t bet on Gurley having a breakout performance. The Rams runner has only averaged more than four yards per carry twice this year. Take away a 24-yard touchdown run versus the Dolphins and Gurley was not very effective last week. He finished the day with 76 yards on 20 carries.
Meanwhile, the Saints held Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to less than two yards per carry.
The OC Register‘s Jack Wang points out that the Saints have improved their defense over the past five games. Their yards per game over that span ranks 13th in the NFL.
Hence, the Rams could again struggle to establish the running game.
3. Cameron Jordan gets multiple sacks
Speaking of the Saints’ defensive improvement, Wang attributes most of the success to defensive end Cameron Jordan. He has four sacks this season but could get more against the Rams’ rookie quarterback and struggling offensive line.
L.A. left tackle Greg Robinson has been inconsistent this year and is one of the most penalized offensive linemen in the NFL. Robinson has a 36.8 accumulative grade by Pro Football Focus, while Jordan has a 90.8 grade from the same subscription service. Therefore, Jordan could easily exploit the Rams with multiple sacks.
No. 12 overall pick Sheldon Rankins has yet to start with the Saints since he injured his fibula before the season began. He is playing in his fourth game and Rankins should make life easier for Jordan on the New Orleans defensive line.
Jordan should terrorize Goff and Robinson on Sunday.
4. Saints win close
The New Orleans Saints have lost five games this season by less than a score. The Rams have won three games by less than a score. Hence, this game should be very close. L.A.’s top five defense will make the Saints work on offense for three-quarters. However, the Rams do not have the offensive weapons to win an offensive shootout.
We remember the Rams collapsing in the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead versus the Miami Dolphins last week. Expect a similar situation versus the Saints.
Drew Brees, 37, is the NFL’s second-leading passer. Over his career, he has shown the ability to win close games for New Orleans. He should lead the Saints again to a fourth-quarter victory, much like the Dolphins did versus L.A. last week.
5. Jeff Fisher gets fired after seventh loss
A seventh loss for the Rams could end their hopes for a playoff run.
Let’s not forget those were the expectations head coach Jeff Fisher established before the season.
It also puts L.A. one game away from another losing season under Fisher.
Wang also points, in a separate article via the OC Register, that Fisher would become just the third head coach to survive five consecutive losing seasons.
Even if the Rams do not immediately part ways with Fisher after a potential New Orleans loss, the head coach’s future remains in question.
Per Pro Football Talk, there remains no update on the contract status of Fisher or General Manager Les Snead. Both executives’ contracts with the Rams will expire after this season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams fire Fisher after a seventh loss.
[Featured Image by Bob Leverone/AP Images]