FBG says: Good matchup. After barely playing down the stretch in 2018, Todd Gurley opened the 2019 season by playing 71 percent of offensive snaps for the Los Angeles Rams. Throughout week one against the Carolina Panthers, Gurley carried the ball 14 times for 97 yards. Gurley's involvement in the offense increased from the levels he stooped to late in 2018, but still, do not quite match his early-2018 numbers. Gurley's backup, Malcolm Brown, also carried the ball 11 times in the season opener, including 2 carries inside the 5-yard line, which he converted into touchdowns. The Rams' offensive line has undoubtedly regressed since last season following critical departures on the interior of the unit in Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. The tackles remain two of the best in the NFL in Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein who will be relied upon to anchor the offensive line to continue to drive this rushing attack forward.
In week one, the New Orleans Saints allowed the Houston Texans to run for 7.8 yards-per-carry, the 2nd-worst mark in the entire NFL. To add insult to injury, the running back that primarily did the damage was Carlos Hyde, a man most had thought was washed up after fizzling out in Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Kansas City over the last 12 months. Hyde carried the ball 10 times for 83 yards on the night himself, while Duke Johnson contributed with 57 yards on just 9 carries. Coming off a season in which the New Orleans run defense ranked second in the NFL in yards-per-carry allowed, this type of performance was stunning. All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan turned in the only notably-strong performance of the week in run-support. Behind him, however, there was little cause for optimism. Starting linebacker Demario Davis turned in his worst run-stopping performance since joining the New Orleans Saints. Also, Von Bell finished the 2018 season as one of the league's best safeties in run support. This performance was undeniably critical to New Orleans' success defending the run, and he, too, played one of his worst games in run support in recent memory. Following such a strong season, overreacting to one single game of weak run defense would be a critical error in evaluating this matchup. Expect New Orleans' run defense to correct itself shortly and return to form as one of the league's best units.