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  1. #1
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    Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    BY JIM THOMAS Thursday, December 9, 2010 12:10 am


    Your offseason's a month shorter than most since you've been playing all the way into early February. And once the new season begins, there's a bull's-eye on your chest, because 31 other teams want to get where you've been.

    "We talked so much about that coming into the season," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Everybody wants to accomplish what you accomplished less than a year ago. I think we knew coming into the season that we were going to get everybody's best performance, and that everybody would mark us on the calendar as kind of the team to beat until you prove otherwise."

    For the first couple of months of this season the Saints sure looked a little groggy. In 2009, the Saints started 13-0 en route to a 31-17 victory over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

    This season, the Saints lurched out to a 4-3 start that included losses to a couple of less-than-stellar foes in Arizona and Cleveland. By New Orleans standards, the league's most dynamic offense of a year ago had to huff-and-puff its way to points.

    But just in time for the Rams, Sunday's opponent in the Louisiana Superdome, the Saints have started humming on offense. The Saints (9-3) have won five consecutive games, and during the last four victories have averaged 33 points. (They averaged a modest 21 points in their first eight contests.)

    "We're running the ball a little bit more effectively than maybe earlier in the season and that's been a point of emphasis for us," coach Sean Payton said. "I think that's helped us."

    Actually, the Saints have run it a lot more effectively. Through eight games, New Orleans averaged 84.8 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. Over the last four contests? Try 126 yards per game and 4.8 yards a carry.

    This has happened even though Pierre Thomas has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury in Game 3 against Atlanta. The University of Illinois product was full participation in Wednesday's practice and is expected to return against the Rams. Reggie Bush missed eight games with a fractured fibula. Since returning on Thanksgiving against Dallas, he has only 10 touches in two games.

    The player who has rescued the Saints' running game is unheralded Chris Ivory, an undrafted rookie from Tiffin (Ohio) University. When it was mentioned during a conference call that not many people had heard of Ivory, Brees quipped: "I hadn't heard of him either."

    Saints opponents are learning about him the hard way. Ivory has rushed for 636 yards and is averaging a robust 5.2 yards a carry. He is coming off a 117-yard, two-touchdown outing against Cincinnati.

    "He's doing great," Brees said. "Just a guy, and we have a lot of these guys, the undrafted free agent that just —you never know what you have until they all of a sudden get the opportunity to step in and get some carries. And then all of a sudden you realize, 'Man, we might have something special here.' "

    Brees, of course, has been special for years. After a bit of a rocky start by his standards this season, Brees has the New Orleans passing game clicking. Just about every other week, Brees surpasses one of Archie Manning's Saints career passing records.

    The team's 34-30 victory at Cincinnati was vintage Brees. He completed 24 of 29 passes for 313 yards and two TDs. In the process, he broke Manning's franchise record for career passing yards. He also reached 25 TD passes for the season, becoming the fourth player in NFL history to throw 25 or more TD passes in five consecutive seasons.

    The other QBs to accomplish that feat: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino. The Saints have all kinds of options in the passing game, and Brees spreads the ball around. Eight Saints caught passes Sunday.

    "He's got a real high standard and he's very competitive," Payton said. "Each offseason for him is always about improvement and what he can do better. One of his great strengths is always staying hungry and trying to evaluate how he can be a more efficient and a better player at that position. I think that's a big reason why he's enjoyed the success he's had to date."

    Even with the recent winning streak and improved offense play, winning isn't always coming easy for New Orleans. Five of the team's nine victories have been by five points or fewer, and Brees has four fourth-quarter comebacks, including last-second victories against Cincy and Dallas.

    The victories keep coming for the Saints, but nothing is coming easy in the Big Easy this season. Trailing Atlanta by a game in the NFC South standings, New Orleans can't afford to coast to the finish line like it did in 2009. The Saints' remaining schedule isn't conducive to coasting, anyway.

    "As we come down the stretch here, typically you might face a team in the month of December that has nothing to play for," Brees said. "In other words, they're out of the playoffs — that kind of thing.

    "But our situation right now, here we are playing the Rams who are right there in front and at the top with the opportunity to win the NFC West. Then we play the (Baltimore) Ravens next week who are fighting for their division and a playoff spot. Then we play the Falcons and the Tampa Bay Bucs, who are the two teams in our division that are right there at the top as well fighting for the playoffs."

    Nobody said repeating was easy.


  2. #2
    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    so what are we to roll over and assume the fetal position? i say heck na! the media is really bashing the rams badly. (or i should say the nfc west, but heck we are a part of it)

    come sunday heavy dose of SJax and steady dose of bradford to dX factor. i'm ready we are beatin and bruised but we will come to play!
    LA RAMMER

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Rammer View Post
    so what are we to roll over and assume the fetal position? i say heck na! the media is really bashing the rams badly. (or i should say the nfc west, but heck we are a part of it)

    come sunday heavy dose of SJax and steady dose of bradford to dX factor. i'm ready we are beatin and bruised but we will come to play!
    This +10000000x 10. I hope the Rams bring their A game, which they most likely will.

  4. #4
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    The month of December is when the cream rises to the top in the NFL. It's time for us to make a statement and beat them Saints!

    GO RAMS!

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    I'm treating this as a measurement of how we can stand up to the big boys, and how resilient we are. We won't be able to shy away from teams like this if we expect to do anything in the playoffs, or even get there for that matter.

    We need to have faith in how we've played to this point and know that it isn't just working against lesser teams. In short, leave the intimidation at the door and come out swinging.

  6. #6
    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    according to the "yahoo experts" we have about the same chance to beat the saints as the panthers do to beat the falcons...
    LA RAMMER

    It's Jim not Chris
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    Saying the Rams have about the same chance, to beat the Saints. As Carolina has in beating the Falcons?
    That yahoo expert is very mistaken. He must not have watched many of the Ram games.
    I do suspect its maybe down to ingnorance. The majority of the fans around the whole NFL still wont have much respect for this young team. Which is understandable given their seasons in the doldrums. We'll make them take notice you watch fans?
    Last edited by GROUND DOG 39; -12-09-2010 at 04:59 PM.

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    Re: Rams will face a rejuvenated Saints team ..

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    Saying the Rams have about the same chance, to beat the Saints. As Carolina has in beating the Falcons?
    That yahoo expert is very mistaken. He must not have watched many of the Ram games.
    I do suspect its maybe down to ingnorance. The majority of the fans around the whole NFL still wont have much respect for this young team. Which is understandable given their seasons in the doldrums. We'll make them take notice you watch fans?
    Your'e dang skippy! And I'll be right here two three years from now remembering this same post!!!

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