The Saints and Rams meet for the fourth time in five years on Sunday in what has often been each team's posture --- the Saints playing for this year...the Rams playing for next year while trying to successfully assume the role of spoiler in the meantime.
The Rams have fallen out of the playoff race and at 5-8 are assured of a tenth straight non-winning season. A victory by the 10-3 Saints assures them of a playoff berth.
When they last met in St. Louis in 2011, the Saints were division leaders. The rams were winless...until an unlikely 31-21 win over the Saints that saw AJ Feeley out-duel Drew Brees. Drew threw 2 interceptions in the loss and has curiously thrown 2 picks in each of his five career games against the Rams.
Sunday, the Saints face another career journeyman at quarterback in Kellen Clemens. In his last two games -- both losses -- he's thrown one touchdown and 3 picks. In last week's loss to Arizona, Clemens was sacked four times, once for a safety, was hit 7 times, and threw an interception for a touchdown. The saints have 43 sacks to lead the NFC.
Clemens' running attack has bogged down with rookie Zac Stacy averaging less then 3 yards per carry in the two losses and less than 2 last week. The Saints, since the loss to the Jets, have done an admirable job of controlling the opposition's primary runner.
If rookie sensation Tavon Austin is limited or out with a sprained ankle, the Rams could be in trouble. The first round draft choice from West Virginia is the first player in NFL history with a 95 yard punt return, 80 yard touchdown reception, and 65 yard rushing touchdown in the same season.
Defensively the Rams secondary is suspect and banged up. The defense is keyed by ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn who have 19.5 sacks between them. The Saints duo of Jordan and Galette have 20.5.