Marching Back

While it's been a tale of two seasons for the Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, it's been one long nightmare for Steven Jackson the St. Louis Rams.

Following an 0-4 start, the Saints look to move above .500 and keep the Rams winless when the teams meet at the Superdome on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made New Orleans –11.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 46 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on New Orleans –11.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

New Orleans (4-4) is tied with Carolina for second in the NFL South, one-half game behind Tampa Bay. Should the Saints win, they would move into a tie for the division lead with the Buccaneers, who are on their bye week.

But New Orleans has struggled to find consistency against the Rams in recent years, alternating wins and losses in the last seven meetings. The Rams (0-8), meanwhile, have won three straight against the Saints in New Orleans, which also was the site of their victory over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV.

With a 41-24 victory over Jacksonville last Sunday, the Saints became only the fourth team in NFL history to win four in a row after starting a season with four straight losses. Brees was 35-of-49 for a season-high 445 yards and three touchdowns to continue his turnaround.

During the Saints' 0-4 start, Brees completed 63.3 percent of his passes (112-of-177) for only 929 yards with a touchdown and nine interceptions. In the four wins since then, he's thrown 11 touchdowns with only one interception, and increased his completion percentage to 71.5 (113-of-158) while passing for 1,246 yards.

"I feel like it's all coming together,'' said Brees, who leads the league with 335 pass attempts. "In order for the passing game to work, it's not one guy. It's not Drew Brees. It's the offensive line, it's the receivers getting open, it's the guys making the right reads according to coverage. It's me obviously knowing where the ball's going. ... Everybody is doing their job and that's what it takes.''

The Saints are averaging 30.5 points per game during their winning streak after managing 12.8 in the first four games of 2007.

New Orleans running back Reggie Bush is expected to be in the lineup even though he sat out practice Wednesday with a wrap on his left knee, which he bruised late in the win over the Jaguars.

"There's nothing broken, nothing torn or anything like that,'' Bush said after practice. "Just a normal everyday football injury that you go through. (Sitting out of practice) was precautionary to get ready for the game this weekend."

The 2005 Heisman Trophy winner leads the Saints with 434 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 50 receptions.

The Rams have been held to seven points or fewer in four games this season, and with just 99 points scored overall, they're in position to challenge the record for fewest points in a 16-game season. Seattle managed only 140 points in 1992, en route to a 2-14 record.

St. Louis, which is 9-9 all-time after its bye week, hopes Jackson can provide a spark.

Jackson returned to full duty in practice on Wednesday after a bulging disk in his back knocked him out early in a 27-20 loss to Cleveland on Oct. 28. His 2-yard TD less than four minutes in helped propel the Rams to an early 14-0 lead before they faded.

"When he went out we figured we could keep it going,'' said quarterback Marc Bulger, who completed 24-of-36 passes for 310 yards. "It makes you realize how important he is to the energy and the balance he brings to the offense.

"We've got to keep him healthy and hopefully he can make it through the whole game, because I think he can change the game that much.''

Jackson led the NFL with 2,334 combined yards rushing and receiving last season, but missed a month earlier this year with a partially torn groin muscle. He's second on the team in rushing with 274 yards - two fewer than rookie Brian Leonard - and has just 10 receptions for 66 yards.

"We've got to get the confidence back in our offense, we have to get the offense putting up numbers once again, and have a defense that's feared,'' Jackson said. "Once we get to that level, I think we will get respect from other teams.''

The Rams' current eight-game slide is their longest since losing 11 in a row in 1991-92.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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