Preview: NFC Championship – Rams vs. Saints
By John Shirley
Let’s take a brief look at some statistical notes and story lines ahead of the NFC Championship game between the Rams and Saints
Lots of Motion and Play-Action, but not much Shotgun
- The Rams’ offense ranks first in the use of jet motion, using it on 17 percent of their plays. The Saints also use jet motion quite a bit, using it on 6.5 percent of plays, which ranks fifth highest.
- When the Rams are on offense get ready to see a lot of play-action. They use play-action on 32 percent of their dropbacks, which is the highest usage in the league. The Saints’ offense is on the other end of the spectrum as they only use play-action on 19 percent of their dropbacks, which ranks 26th.
- While there will be a lot of play-action and motion in this game, there probably won’t be much use of shotgun. The Rams use shotgun the least of any team in the league at only 38 percent. The Saints, who use shotgun on only 49 percent, are also one of just four teams that use shotgun under 50 percent of the time.
The Saints use of Michael Thomas
- During the regular season Saints receiver Michael Thomas was responsible for 29 percent of his team’s targets. This was the second highest target share in the league next to DeAndre Hopkins’ 33 percent target share.
- In the first meeting between the Saints and Rams, Thomas’ target share was an incredibly high 42 percent.
- The Rams will need to contain Thomas this time around. It will help that they will have corner Aqib Talib this time.
The Rams Running Game vs the Saints Defense:
- The Rams running game has been impressive this year ranking third in yards per carry at 4.9 yards. They also ranked first in positive percentage (the percentage of running plays with a positive EPA) at 51 percent. This success continued into the playoffs last week as both CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley ran for over 100 yards.
- The Rams will have a tough matchup this week when they face a Saints run defense. The Saints defense ranked second by only allowing 3.6 yards per carry. They only allowed 1.9 yards after contact per carry, which also ranked second best in the league.
The Offensive Lines vs the Defensive Lines:
- The Rams offensive line ranks fifth (6 percent) in blown block percentage, while the Saints offensive line ranks sixth (6.4 Percent). The Rams defense ranks fourth (11.3 percent) in forced blown block percentage, while the Saints defense ranks 11th (9.5 percent).
- The Saints offense ranks second in percentage of pass plays with a pressure (hit, hurry, knockdown, or sack) allowed at 27 percent. The Rams offense ranks seventh, allowing a pressure on 30 percent of pass plays.
- The Rams defense ranks second in pressure percentage, getting pressure on 40 percent of opponents pass plays. The Saints defense ranks sixth, getting pressure on 36 percent of opponents’ pass plays
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