The New Orleans Saints visit the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer
Matchup: New Orleans Saints offense vs. Los Angeles Rams defense
- RB Mark Ingram vs. LB Alec Ogletree – Mark Ingram’s overall grade through Week 11 stands at 78.1, 21st out of 59 qualified running backs. He’s earned game grades of 93.0 and 84.3 the past two weeks against the Bills and Redskins respectively, and his 37.6 elusive rating ranks him tenth among 21 running backs with at least 116 attempts. He should see plenty of linebacker Alec Ogletree, who’s 37.0 overall grade is 80th out of 87 linebackers. Ogletree has notably struggled against running backs; his 6.1 run-stop percentage is the 12th lowest mark among 58 qualified linebackers, while his 10.5 tackle efficiency is the 24th lowest figure out of 55 qualified linebackers.
- WR Michael Thomas vs. CB Kayvon Webster – Michael Thomas continues to prove that his excellent rookie season was no fluke. His 86.3 overall grade is the eighth best among 115 qualified receivers. He’s dropped only two passes on 65 receptions for a 2.99 drop rate that’s eighth lowest among 34 qualifying wide receivers, while his 2.25 yards per route run is the seventh-highest figure among qualifying wide receivers. When he lines up to the left on offense, he’ll be matched up with cornerback Kayvon Webster. Webster’s allowed only 44 yards after the catch to receivers, and his 0.95 yards allowed per coverage snap is tied for 28th out of 80 qualifying cornerbacks.
- TE Coby Fleener vs. LB Mark Barron – Coby Fleener has alternated well-graded overall performances with poor performances each week since the Saints’ Week 5 bye, so he’ll look to break the pattern after last week’s 81.1 game grade versus the Redskins. Fleener has performed particularly well out of the slot formation, where he’s caught 80 percent of his passes, the seventh-highest percentage among 23 tight ends with at least 91 slot routes. His 1.84 yards per route run from the slot is the third-highest figure among the same qualified tight ends. He’ll be covered by Mark Barron regularly, who spends 28 perccent of his coverage snaps in a slot cornerback role. Barron’s 5.9 cover snaps per target have him tied for the second most frequently targeted inside linebacker, and his 1.15 yards allowed per snap in coverage is tied for the 10th highest figure among qualifying inside linebackers.
Coverage by: Mike Cahill
Matchup: Los Angeles Rams offense vs. New Orleans Saints defense
- T Rob Havenstein vs. Edge Cameron Jordan – Havenstein’s pass blocking has been up and down this season, while he has been consistently strong in the run game with the sixth highest run-block grade this season with an 86.9. Though he gave up five quarterback pressures in Week 11, Havenstein had allowed the 14th fewest quarterback pressures since Week 6 heading into that game. He will need to bring his best this week as he will face one of PFF’s elite edge defenders in Cameron Jordan. Jordan currently is currently tied for the seventh-most quarterback pressures among all edge defenders with 45, 41 from Havenstein’s side, and the fourth-highest overall grade (91.4). The last time these two met in 2016, Havenstein gave up six quarterback pressures, the same amount Jordan produced.
- RB Todd Gurley vs. Saints run defense – Week 11 was the third time this season that Gurley had 15 or fewer rushing attempts and second time in three weeks. The Rams have lost twice when that has been true, with their previous loss coming against Seattle. It was also the third time this season where he was unable to force more than one missed tackle or gain more than 1.9 yards after contact. Things don’t get easier in Week 12 when he sees a Saints defense that has the fifth-fewest missed tackles combined. They are missing tackles on only 11.5 percent of their tackle attempts, ninth best. The Rams have given Gurley 20 or more carries only four times this season, in those games he has forced nine of his 19 total missed tackles and they have averaged 34 points per game.
- WR Cooper Kupp vs. CB P.J. Williams – After committing his first fumble of the season, wide receiver Cooper Kupp dropped his fifth pass this season, which resulted in a punt in the fourth quarter. Kupp now has the fifth-highest drop rate among 34 eligible receivers at 11.63. The Saints’ slot cornerback P.J. Williams could help provide a big game for Kupp, as he is averaging the second most yards per coverage snap allowed while in slot coverage at 2.29 and has an overall coverage grade of 65.3. In the weeks following a game Kupp has dropped as pass, he has not gained more than 47 yards, though he has seven of his 10 forced missed tackles following such games.