NFL 2023: Rams Roast Saints, Boost Playoff Chances

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Under the SoFi Stadium spotlights, a Thursday night clash unfolded, pitting two teams clinging to playoff dreams. But only one shone with postseason luster.

The Los Angeles Rams, fueled by another 300-yard passing feast from Matthew Stafford, devoured the New Orleans Saints 30-22, bolstering their own playoff bid while exposing the Saints’ listless performance.

The Rams, roaring through six wins in seven games (a lone overtime stumble against the Ravens the only blemish), now boast a 78% chance of gracing the playoffs. A Saints triumph would have plunged that number to a small 17%.

Stafford, reborn after thumb woes, has orchestrated a Los Angeles offensive surge, spitting fire in five consecutive games with 28+ points on the menu. Kyren Williams, the rising star praised by McVay for elevating the Rams’ game, surpassed 1,000 rushing yards – a feat last achieved by Gurley in 2018.

Stafford’s arm remained an inferno, peppering the Saints with 24 completions for 328 yards and two touchdowns, extending his streak of multi-touchdown games to five, the longest since joining the Rams.

Meanwhile, the rookie Rams pass-rush continues to terrorize, with Kobie Turner leading the NFL’s first-year sackers with 6.5, eclipsing teammate Byron Young’s six while chasing after Aaron Donald’s franchise record.

Demarcus Robinson, proving his worth as the Rams’ new No. 3 receiver, sizzled with six catches, 82 yards, and a touchdown, eclipsing Tutu Atwell. Yet, the Rams’ kicking woes lingered, with Lucas Havrisik’s missed 47-yard field goal adding to a league-high 11 misses this season, echoing the struggles of the 2015 Buccaneers. A late special teams nightmare – a blocked punt setting up a Saints touchdown – added salt to the New Orleans wound.

The Rams bask in the warmth of victory, their playoff quest flickering brightly. The Saints, on the other hand, stumble into a crucial meeting with the Buccaneers, carrying not just a 7-8 record but the weight of a Thursday night performance as lifeless as a deflated football.

Will they rise to the challenge or fade into the playoffs’ periphery, their dream evaporating like the SoFi Stadium mist? Only next week will tell. (Credit: ESPN)

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