Five Takeaways From Rams’ Thursday Night Win Over Saints in Week 16 of 2023 NFL Season.

Rams’ playoff odds jump with important tiebreaker victory.
The Rams took a big step forward in their playoff hopes with their win over the Saints on Thursday. Coming into the game, they had a 53% chance to make the playoffs, according to Next Gen Stats. But with the win, their chances have gone up to 74%. If they had lost, they would have had a 15% chance. The Rams entered Week 10 at 3-6 and had lost 18 of their last 26 games since they won Super Bowl LVI, but they’ve been one of the quietest teams in the NFL, winning 4 of 5, the only blemish being an overtime loss to Baltimore. There’s no shame in that, and Thursday was no exception. The Rams let some points slip away in the second half and then let their foot down in the fourth quarter, just like they did in Sunday’s win over Washington when they let a 20-0 lead slip away to a one-point game late in the fourth. But they fought their way back to beat the Saints with that four-minute drive and finish off a great game. When Sean Mcvay, Matthew Rodell and Aaron Rodell ended all the talk about them leaving, this is what they came back for: to get the Rams back in the playoffs. They’re one big step closer.

Saints cough up early chances, can’t make up ground late against Rams.
The first eight plays of Thursday night’s game for the Saints (7-8) resulted in a nine-play drive that ended in a punting attempt on fourth-and-goal from the Rams (39). The Rams kept a lid on the game, and just as momentum seemed to shift in New Orleans’ direction late in the first half – at least temporarily – Chris Olave fumbled on third-and-goal at the Rams (37) and the Saints fumbled again on fourth down, this time with Derek Carr on the same side as Juwan Johnson. The Saints would cough up two possessions in the second half, one on an interception and one on fourth down, as the Rams raced ahead 30-7. The Saints would storm back, scoring two late touchdowns and two on two-point conversions, but were unable to get stops on defence late in the game. The Saints’ loss was less damaging to their playoff hopes than it was to the Rams, who improved their own 7-8 record to 9-7. New Orleans’ chances of making the playoffs dropped from 41 percent to 24 percent.

The Rams’ offence is cooking.
The Rams have compiled an impressive 458 yards since Thanksgiving, the most of any NFL team. The Saints entered the game ranked 11th in the NFL in yards allowed, and the Rams’ five games in the past five weeks have averaged 433.0 yards per game, with a 32.4-point average. Stafford was 24-34 with 328 yards and 2 touchdowns, showing little to no stress or pressure on his receivers in the first half. Robinson had six receptions for 82 yards, both season highs, and a TD, while Nacua caught nine passes for 164 yards and had two rushes for a total of 16 more. The Rams’ dominating first-half performance was led by Nacua, who closed out the Rams’ 95-yard, fourth-down drive to open the scoring. The Rams’ only other receivers to catch passes were Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, and Tavon Austin. However, the Rams’ ground game was led by Kyren Williams, who had 22 rushes for 104 yards and a touchdown, and did not commit a fumble after he had two on Sunday. While the Rams’ offence may not be receiving the same level of attention as its counterparts in San Francisco, Buffalo, and Baltimore, the Rams are capable of moving the ball as effectively as almost any team in the NFL right now.

Alvin Kamara bottled up in his worst game of the season.
The Saints’ offence has been a work in progress for much of the season, but the only player they have been able to rely on consistently (since Kamara’s suspension at the beginning of the season) has been the running back. On Thursday, Kamara was unable to find the end zone as he ran nine times for a mere 19 yards and caught five passes for a total of 16 yards, including a long gain of nine. Kamara’s season-low in yards from scrimmage entering Thursday was 45 in a narrow win against the Carolina Panthers, and he has logged 70 or more yards in every other game this season. The Rams’ defence played extremely well in covering him both as a running back and in coverage.

The Saints offensive line was again without the services of RT Ryan Ramczyk, and the offensive line was unable to create holes. Kamara was primarily utilised on first downs, with the only third-down play of the game being a draw on 3rd and 20, which resulted in a punting attempt. The game play seemed to be predicated on the possession of Olave, who was effective with nine receptions for 123 yards. However, the Rams’ defence, which was swarming on Kamara, caused the Saints to be one-dimensional and forced them into a hole early.

Rams’ no-name defence has made strides, too.
The Rams’ defence has had its moments of inconsistency throughout the season, and it has experienced such moments in each of its victories in the past four days. The Rams’ defence started off strongly in their victories over Washington and New Orleans, but faded a bit down the stretch, particularly in their overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Nevertheless, the Rams’ defence has contributed its fair share to the team’s recent success. Ernest Jones, the Rams’ best young linebacker, has not received nearly the credit he deserves. Jones had seven tackles and two passes defended on Thursday, including a critical sack on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line and a pressure that resulted in Derek Carr’s ill-advised INT to Jordan Fuller.Kobie Turner, the nose tackle, picked up his second sack of the season early in the first quarter on Carr’s fourth-and-goal from the 1. He now has 6.5 total sacks on the year. To put this in perspective, the Saints have blitzed Turner 13 times this season, while Aaron Donald has been blitzed 16 times, according to Next Gen Stats (NTS). The Rams gave up two late-game touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the game, but for the better part of three quarters, the defence made enough clutch plays to give them another win.

Next Gen stat of the game: Matthew Stafford posted a season-best +12.4 percent CPOE on shift/motion pass attempts against the Saints, completing 21 of 29 passes for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Rams used shift/motion on 86.4 percent of plays.
NFL Research: Kobie Turner, the Rams NT, is now the top rookie in the NFL with 6.5 sacks this year, just ahead of his Rams teammate Byron Young’s 6.0.