The Saints of New Orleans have the opportunity to pull into a four-way match at the top of NFC with victory on Monday night. If they can run their records to 11-3, they will match Seahawks, Packers and 49ers, sending the conference to a complex four-team unlocking machine.
Standing in the way of the Saints is the University of Indianapolis, who is trying to keep their own fading playoff hopes. Colts have lost three matches in a row to reduce their record to 6-7, and they are a game and a half behind Pittsburgh and Tennessee in the AFC No. 6 seed race at the moment. To keep himself in the mix, Colts desperately needed to go with a victory.
With all that on the line, this will be a pretty interesting game. Let’s break things up.
When the Saints have the ball
Let’s start with Alvin Kamara, who has simply not been the same since coming back from injury. In the six games before injuring his knee and ankle, causing him to miss two matches, Kamara achieved 649 yards (108.1 per match) out of a total of 119 touches (5.45 each. touch). In the five games since returning, Kamara has achieved a total of 425 yards (85 per game) out of a total of 87 touches (4.89 per touch).
But a slight dip in the pitch every match and every touch is not the only difference we see. As Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks noted earlier this week, Kamara’s avoided the settlement rate that has dropped to the floor since returning: Before being injured, Kamara had a 34% avoidable handling rate when running and catch rates. 27%. Since returning, these numbers have dropped to 13% when running and 14% when captured.
The Saints still held a record of 3-2 in those five matches, but this decline in Kamara’s ability made the opponent miss out about to become extremely important on Monday night. Colts’ defensive design encourages opponents to make short throws at the test options, relying on their defenders and safes to make and execute shots before the opponent can win too many yards after catching.
Defense coordinator Matt Eberflus prioritizes not giving up deep throws to most others, and when the Saints are making shorter throws, that almost always means the ball will reach Kamara or Michael Thomas.