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Rams, Saints engage in all-important TNF clash

Every game counts as the home stretch of the 2023 NFL regular season approaches. That’s why the Week 16 Thursday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints is crucial for both playoff-aspiring teams.

As of Week 15, the Rams and the Saints have identical 7-7 records. However, the Rams hold the seventh and final NFC postseason spot while the Saints are ninth.

A win by the Saints and a Buccaneers loss will bring New Orleans to the top of the NFC South with two games left. Winning the division guarantees at least a home-field advantage during the Wild Card Round.

The Saints have been on a rollercoaster journey in Dennis Allen’s second season as head coach. After winning their first two games, they’ve lost four of their next five and have stayed within the .500 range. But they are in a nice groove lately, with consecutive wins against the Panthers and the Giants.

New Orleans’ defense limited both squads to six points each. Stopping opponents has been their calling card all season, as they are ranked 11th in yards allowed (311.9) and sixth in passing yards allowed (185.4) per game. Meanwhile, the offense ranks 13th in points per game (22.1).

Meanwhile, the Rams are one of the hottest teams in the league after winning four of their last five games. Since their bye week, they have defeated the Seahawks, the Cardinals, the Browns, and the Commanders. They also fought hard against the Ravens but lost in overtime.

Tutu Atwell, Puka Nacua, and Cooper Kupp led the team in receiving yards during that five-game stretch. In three of those five games, Kyren Williams also finished above 100 rushing yards. Matthew Stafford has also been on point, throwing for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in their last three games.

The Rams defense, led by three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, has limited opponents to 20 points or less in each of those four victories. A victory by the Rams strengthens their grip on a postseason berth.

While the Saints enjoy a home-field advantage in this TNF showdown, choosing a winner is difficult because they are evenly matched. But the stakes that come with this game should motivate all players to perform at their best.

-Lance Fernandez

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