The Saints had the league's 2nd-ranked run defense during the season, allowing only 80 yards per game. The Rams had the league's 3rd-ranked rushing offense; it averaged 139 yards, and had 4 more TDs on the ground (23) than anyone but the Saints, who had 26. Something has to give.
New Orleans just lost defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to injury, which will help. That could be huge, since during the season, with that run defense at full strength, there was not much doing against that defense. No back rushed for more than 76 yards against it, and only six teams averaged even 4.0 yards per attempt.
That said, one team was pretty effective running the ball against New Orleans: the Rams, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry when they faced New Orleans in Week 9. That was a lot better than most other ground games; only the Bengals had a higher average. Los Angeles fell way behind in that one, and had to abandon the run to catch up.
Here are the week-by-week numbers of lead backs and ground games against New Orleans this season.
|SAINTS RUN DEFENSE|
|Tampa Bay||112||0||3.3||Peyton Barber||69|
|NY Giants||65||1||4.3||Saquon Barkley||44|
|LA Rams||92||1||4.8||Todd Gurley||68|
|Tampa Bay||105||0||4.6||Jameis Winston||47|
Tough run defense, but with Rankins missing, and the Rams having had some earlier success (and now adding a fresh-legged C.J. Anderson to the mix) maybe they'll be a little better than expected.