The New Orleans Saints should be very grateful for the recent gifts they have been presented with in the course of their schedule so far this season.
Have you ever heard the expression “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” and wondered what it really meant? It actually falls into the category of a phrase that qualifies as an Olde Englishe proverb, or a ‘short and expressive saying, in common use, which is recognized as conveying some accepted truth or useful advice’. As horses age their teeth start to project further forward each year so that their age can be estimated by assessing how prominent the teeth are. The original phrase, as it first appears in print in 1546 in John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, is presented as “No man ought to looke a geuen hors in the mouth.” Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift is the essential meaning of the phrase in the modern sense.
“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” certainly applies here to the Saints for their opponents both this weekend and last. New Orleans should simply stay the same course that they plowed ahead with last weekend against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri where they will meet the floundering Rams. Don’t you dare slow down to take a head count or assess the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent at hand, but just blow with the wind that carried you this far, take the gift that has been handed you and keep on trucking.
The Manningless Colts were blown out by the Saints last Sunday night by the outlandish final score of 62-7. By all accounts, this weekend’s matchup looks on paper to be an even bigger mismatch of David versus Goliath with the 0-6 St Louis Rams playing host to the 5-2 New Orleans Saints. One might think that the outcome could be as ridiculous as 70-0 in this one if all goes as one would expect, especially considering the lengthy injury reports coming out of St Louis late into the week. They could not only be without their starting quarterback with Sam Bradford still nursing a high ankle sprain this Sunday, but also their starting right offensive tackle Jason Smith (neck/concussion), a starting wide receiver in Danario Alexander (hamstring), their starting left cornerback Justin King (groin), their starting strong side linebacker Brady Poppinga (calf) and depth at defensive tackle in Darell Scott (concussion).
Add those possible “OUT” status players to the fact that the Rams‘ offense is 30th in 3rd-down efficiency on offense and 25th in defensive 3rd-down efficiency and the outlook becomes all the more grim for St Louis against the relentless Saints. They are also dead last in the NFL in offensive red-zone efficiency, having scored just four touchdowns in 14 trips inside the other teams’ 20-yard line.
In fact, the St Louis Rams have only scored 56 total points after six games in seven weeks, compared to a total of 239 points for the New Orleans Saints through seven games. Breaking it down by quarters for New Orleans, the Saints have scored 55 points in the first quarter, 66 in the second, 50 in the third and 68 points in the fourth. The Saints are literally scoring points at a rate of nearly four times that of the St Louis Rams so far this season.
I know that I called for a big game from New Orleans Saints‘ RB Pierre Thomas 23 two weeks ago in Tampa Bay, but it, unfortunately, never materialized. That scenario definitely looks much more possible this weekend with RB Mark Ingram 28 likely sitting out with a bruised right heel and RB Chris Ivory 29, fresh off the PUP list and not yet in football shape, probably being activated in his absence. In only a short week of practice with the rest of the team and very few reps to try and simulate the OTA’s and training camp that he’s missed this offseason, it’s highly improbable that Ivory gets more than just a very limited number of snaps, if any at all, in this contest. I see #29 being made active as a third emergency-only type of running back, with RB Darren Sproles 43 and Thomas getting the obvious bulk of the carries against the ailing run defense of the Rams. Hence the high potential for a big game on the ground this weekend for the Flying Frenchman, Pierre Thomas.
Aside from Ingram missing practices this week, LB Jonathan Vilma 51 also sat out, as he has the majority of weekly practices since after the Houston Texans game in week 3, as a precautionary measure to avoid any set-backs in the hopes that he can once again go on game-day this week. All other previously injured players appear to be on the mend. Guys like LB Jonathan Casillas 52 (left knee), DT Sedrick Ellis 98 (right ankle), TE David Thomas 85 (concussion) and TE Zach Strief 64 (right knee) practiced on a limited basis. Other players DE Turk McBride 90 (shoulder), TE John Gilmore 89 (neck), TE Jimmy Graham 80 (right ankle) and LB Will Herring 54 (left hamstring) were back full at practice this week.
Saints Final Injury Report (straight from the mouth of HC Sean Payton on Friday, October 28):
RB Mark Ingram (right heel) DNP – OUT
RB Chris Ivory (off PUP list) within the next 24-48 hours, will be brought to the 53
TE Dave Thomas (concussion) Limited – QUESTIONABLE
RT Zach Strief (right knee) Limited – QUESTIONABLE
LB Jon Vilma (left knee) Limited – PROBABLE
DT Sedrick Ellis (ankle) Limited – PROBABLE
LB Jon Casillas (knee) Full – PROBABLE
TE Jimmy Graham (ankle) Full – PROBABLE
LB Will Herring (hamstring) Full – PROBABLE
TE John Gilmore (neck) Full – PROBABLE
DE Turk McBride (shoulder) Full – PROBABLE
On the Rams official injury report:
OUT: Bradford, T Jason Smith, DT Darell Scott
DOUBTFUL: WR Danario Alexander
QUESTIONABLE: CB King, LB Brady Poppinga
PROBABLE: DE C.J. Ah You
My final score prediction for this week 8 game is New Orleans Saints 45, St Louis Rams 9.
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