Sean McVay is rewriting the preseason coaching manual, but we’ll have to wait and see how the Los Angeles Rams perform during the regular season before the pages are accepted. The 2017 Coach of the Year elected to sit most of his offensive starters for the entire preseason, while members of the defense saw very few reps. It’s a bold move by the second-year head coach, and one that will likely catch on if the Rams contend for a Super Bowl, like many expect. The Rams close the exhibition slate in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints.
This contest in Week 4 of the preseason is schedule for Thursday, August 30, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Los Angeles Rams +4
New Orleans Saints -4
The Rams sat their entire starting offense and the defense played a handful of snaps, yet they were still able to beat Houston last week, improving to 2-1 SU and ATS. The Saints have lost their last 10 preseason finales but opened as a 4-point favorite with a total of 36.5.
McVay and his staff would like to feel more confident about the ability of Sean Mannion to lead the offense in case something happens to Jared Goff. Getting another start in last week’s game Mannion once again struggled early, misfiring on his first five attempts with an interception. He rallied to finish the day strong, ending the first half with 10 consecutive completions.
The Rams faced Houston’s starters on the first few series, which may have led to the poor start. Overall, Mannion was 11 of 17 for 68 yards with a touchdown and a pick. We’ll likely see Mannion play the first half on Thursday before giving way to Brandon Allen, who is 26 of 39 for 204 yards in three preseason games. The Rams also have Luis Perez on their camp roster, but the rookie has yet to take a snap.
Drew Brees played three series last week and he’s done for remainder of the preseason. The Saints are still trying to figure out their backup role in a battle between Tom Savage and Taysom Hill, and the final preseason game will go toward deciding the winner. Both performed well in a win over the Chargers last week, but Sean Payton was especially proud of the way Hill responded after a horrendous showing the week before.
In a loss to the Cards, Hill threw two interceptions, lost two more fumbles and had a third recovered by a teammate. That set him back on the depth chart, but given the chance last week, Hill showed why he is such an intriguing player. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, ran for an additional 35 yards and a score, punched in a 2-point conversion and had a special teams tackle. J.T. Barrett didn’t play last week and could see action on Thursday. He’s attempted just five passes in parts of two games.
We’re getting a grasp on how McVay wishes to handle the preseason. If it were up to him teams would skip it completely, and that’s exactly what he’s done. His main pieces on offense won’t take the field until Sept. 10 and the defense played sparingly last week. Yet the Rams came away with their second win and they are 2-1 SU and ATS. Overall, McVay owns a 4-3 SU and ATS mark.
It’s evident that Sean Payton could care less about the Week 4 preseason game. Payton has an overall record of 25-28 during the preseason, but his ledger drops to 1-11 in Week 4. The Saints have dropped their last 10 preseason finales while going 3-7 ATS in those contests.
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We will see Hill and that’s a reason to watc. The guy can help win games, like he did last week with an outstanding performance against the Bolts, and he can also come up with cringe-worthy moments. He did that against the Cards with an awful game. But he is a captivating player and his ability to move and create plays with his legs gives the offense an added dimension. We won’t see Brees or Savage scramble like that.
And the Saints need to take a good look at Hill to decide if they want to hold onto him. He’s also a special teams player which makes him more valuable. There won’t be much going on in this one and Hill is the difference-maker that gets the Saints a victory.
NFL Betting Odds: Saints 26, Rams 20
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