1:00 PM ET, October 30, 2011
Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO
For the second straight week, the New Orleans Saints' high-powered offense gets to face a winless team with a highly vulnerable defense.
If the Saints' performance in that spot was any indication, the St. Louis Rams could quickly find themselves on the wrong end of another one-sided score.
New Orleans, which put up more points last week than the Rams have all season, tries to build on its record-setting outing Sunday when it visits a sputtering St. Louis team that could again be without Sam Bradford.
Coach Sean Payton broke his tibia and tore his MCL in a sideline collision during the Saints' sloppy 26-20 loss at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16, forcing him to move up to the booth and relinquish his sideline play-calling duties against Indianapolis last Sunday.
That gave offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. a chance to call plays for the first time, and his team didn't disappoint.
New Orleans responded by matching the highest point total since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. The Saints (5-2) scored at least 13 points in each quarter while crushing the Colts 62-7, setting franchise records for points and margin of victory.
"We played with a lot of confidence," Drew Brees said. "We needed a win like this, especially after the past week and everything we've gone through."
Brees completed 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns, only failing to extend to five games his NFL-record streak of at least 350 yards passing because the Saints turned to backup Chase Daniel late in the third quarter.
New Orleans still scored two more touchdowns in the fourth and finished with a team-record 36 first downs.
"That's pretty impressive," St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "We know what they're all about in terms of firepower, so it's a pretty good challenge."
Keeping up with the NFL's highest-scoring team (34.1 points per game) certainly figures to be trouble for the Rams (0-6), who are last in the league with 56 points -- six fewer than New Orleans scored last week.
St. Louis is also 31st in scoring defense (28.5 per game), edging only the Colts.
Making matters even worse for the Rams is the possibility that Bradford, who is nursing a high left ankle sprain, will miss a second straight game.
Backup A.J. Feeley was under center last Sunday against Dallas and couldn't ignite the offense in a 34-7 loss. Feeley, making his first start since 2007, threw for 196 yards with an interception as the Rams finished with 265 yards.
"We couldn't get any rhythm and left the defense on the field entirely too long," said Steven Jackson, who has rushed for 400 yards with four touchdowns in four career starts against the Saints. "For whatever reason, this keeps being the same old story."
The Rams are an NFL-worst minus-115 in scoring differential, while the Saints are outscoring their opponents by 81 points -- the second-best mark in the league.
St. Louis' biggest problem defensively has come against the run. The Rams allowed unproven Dallas rookie DeMarco Murray to rush for 253 yards, the ninth-best single game in NFL history. They are allowing an average of 183.8 rushing yards, putting them on pace for the league's worst mark since the 1981 Patriots gave up 184.4 per contest.
"Until they decide they are going to tackle the way it's coached and the way we ask them to do it, it's probably not going to change," Spagnuolo said.
St. Louis' defense now has to try to slow Brees -- the NFL's leader with 2,477 passing yards and second with 18 touchdowns -- while also honoring a ground game that finished with 236 yards last week, New Orleans' highest total since a 249-yard game in 1990.
Rookie Mark Ingram ran for 91 yards on 18 carries against the Colts before limping to the locker room early in the fourth quarter with a heel injury. Ingram didn't practice all week and won't play Sunday.
Payton, who missed the first few days of practice leading up to the game against the Colts and is using crutches to walk, hasn't decided if he will call plays this week for the Saints.
It might not make much difference. New Orleans beat the Rams 31-13 last season in the Superdome with Brees throwing for 221 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
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1. Crowd the box: St. Louis can be an effective running team when Steven Jackson gets going. He is a big, elusive back who can carry a team when he is on his game. Look for Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to have the Saints slide an eighth defender into the box a good number of times in an attempt to take away the running lanes. A good number of run blitzes will likely be in order.
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|Avg Points Allowed||23.6||27.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NO|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NO|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 4-4|
|Dec 12, 2010||NO 31, STL 13|
|Nov 15, 2009||NO 28, @STL 23|
|Nov 11, 2007||NO 29, STL 37|
|Oct 23, 2005||NO 17, @STL 28|
|Sep 26, 2004||NO 28, @STL 25|
|Dec 17, 2001||NO 21, STL 34|
|Oct 28, 2001||NO 34, @STL 31|