The New Orleans Saints also played their first NFL regular-season game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 17, 1967. There were 80,879 on hand at Tulane Stadium to watch the Saints face the Rams, and they received immediate gratification when Saints return man John Gilliam gathered in the opening kickoff from Rams kicker Bruce Gossett and took the ball 94 yards to the house to put New Orleans in front. But it was short-lived glory. The Rams rebounded strongly for a 27-13 victory.
Originally, the Saints were housed in the NFL's Capitol Division and the Rams in the Coastal Division, but the 1970 AFL-NFL merger put both teams in the NFC West and brought a halt to any preseason action. But it meant twice-yearly meetings between the Saints and Rams every regular season from 1970 through 2001, when NFL realignment kept the Rams in the NFC West but moved the Saints to the NFC South. In 74 regular-season meetings, the Rams hold a 41-33 edge over the Saints.
Add It Up - The points just keep on coming when the Rams and Saints do battle in New Orleans. Of course, this will be the first preseason game between the two teams at New Orleans, but if the regular season pattern holds forth, anticipate it being a slugfest. The last time the Rams and Saints met at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 12 of the 2016 season, the total was 70 points, as New Orleans routed the Rams 49-21.
The total for the past seven Saints-Rams regular-season games at New Orleans averages out to an even 55 points per game. Of the 17 games from the 36 Rams-Saints tilts in New Orleans to finish with a total under 40 points, only three have been played since 1994. All four of the Saints-Rams games played in New Orleans to finish with a total above 60 have been played since 1994, and that number includes two of the last three games played at New Orleans.
They Could Be Contenders - Both the Rams and Saints won their respective divisions last season. The Rams were NFC West champions for the first time since 2003, while the Saints captured their first NFC South title since 2011. What are the chances of both teams wearing back-to-back division crowns, something the Saints haven't produced in their history and the Rams haven't accomplished since winning seven in a row from 1973-79? Well, pretty good according to Bovada.
The online sportsbook lists the Saints as the +165 chalk to win the tough NFC South, a division that saw three of its fourth teams reach the postseason in 2017. Bovada is even more fond of the chances of the Rams ramming their way to another NFC West title, placing them at odds of -135 to do so. The Rams are rated by Bovada at -265 odds to be an NFL playoff team in 2018, and at odds of +205 not to make the postseason. The Saints are pegged at odds of -135 to make the playoffs and +105 to fail in that quest.
Super Stuff - At odds of +1000, Bovada rates the Rams as their third betting choice to win Super Bowl LIII, and the second-best among NFC teams behind the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (+900). You won't have to look far to find the Saints. They are listed at odds of +1600 to win the Super Bowl, making them the seventh betting choice in this market. The Rams are placed at odds of +600 to win the NFC Championship, while the Saints are set at odds of +1000 on the same wager.
Come On Kamara - While Saints running back Mark Ingram begins the regular season under a four-game NFL suspension, opportunity knocks for his backfield mate, reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara, and the sportsbooks are taking notice of this fact. Bet365 is offering a season special wager on both Kamara's rushing and receiving yardage totals for 2018.
They've put the total for his rushing yards at 945.5. The over is at odds of -110 and the under at -125. Kamara's receiving yards total is set at 755.5. An over wager will get you odds of -125 and the under bet brings with it odds of -110.
Kicking The Habit - Placekicker Greg Zuerlein was a big part of the success story of the Rams in 2017, and Bet365 has established Zuerlein as their second betting choice to lead the NFL in regular-season kicking points at odds of +500. New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is the betting favorite at +200. Last season, Zuerlein led the NFL with 158 points, two more than Gostkowski, who was the league's leading scorer in 2008 and in every season from 2012-15.
Gurley's The Man - Rams running back Todd Gurley led the NFL with 19 touchdown last season, and Bet365 likes his chances of doing it again. They've assigned him favorite odds of +450 to lead the NFL in touchdowns in 2018. If so, Gurley will be the first to lead this category in successive seasons since Shaun Alexander in 2004-05. Kamara, who was second in the NFL as a rookie last season with 14 touchdowns, is given status as the third betting choice in this market at +800.
Jordan Rules - Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was tied for fourth in the NFL last season with 13 sacks, but there doesn't seem to be an appetite for a repeat performance from the online sportsbooks. Bet365 places Jordan as their co-10th betting option to lead the NFL in sacks this season at +1600. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who collected 11 sacks last season, is given odds of +2500 to lead the league in this category.
Betway ranks Donald and Jordan as their co-10th betting choices to be this season's NFL sacks leader at odds of +1600. Betway makes Donald the +500 chalk to retain his title as the NFL's defensive player of the year. Jordan is rated at odds of +2200 to win this award.