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The Huddle: Rams remain atop the NFC West as the Saints come to town

The Times’ Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry preview the matchup between the Rams (7-3) and New Orleans Saints (8-2) at the Coliseum on Sunday.

The Rams are in the playoff hunt. Visit "The Huddle" for the latest in news, notes, conversation and opinion.

This is notable

The Rams and New Orleans Saints are among the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses, separated by 1/10th of a point.

Expect a shootout Sunday at the Coliseum.

The Rams rank second, averaging 30.3 points per game. The Saints are just behind at 30.2.

And if you’re wondering, the Philadelphia Eagles have the top-scoring offense, averaging 32 points per game on their way to the NFL’s best record at 9-1. They’ll make a trip to the Coliseum on Dec. 10.

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Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein continues to lead the league in scoring with 115 points despite not kicking a field goal in last Sunday’s 24-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The last time Zuerlein did not attempt a field goal was in a 22-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last December.

Zuerlein is 28-for-29 this season.

Social status

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“Happy Thanksgiving!!”

— Todd Gurley, @tg4hunnid

Gurley kept quite the company in Thanksgiving dinner caricature, but the Rams running back stood out — not only because of his dark shades, but as the NFL’s touchdown leader.

Gurley has scored 11 touchdowns this season, including eight rushing and three receiving.

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“We're free. Jeff Fisher can't hurt us anymore.”

— @Rogerskolney

Secrets, secrets.

It appears Jared Goff had one for Case Keenum after the Vikings’ victory. Keenum and Goff combined to finish 4-12 last season under former Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

This season, both quarterbacks are much improved. Keenum is 7-2 as a starter and has led the Vikings to first place in the NFC North. Goff has led the Rams to a 7-3 mark after finishing 0-7 as a rookie.

Opponent hotline

“I know Sean, I do not know him too well. The first similarity would be S-E-A-N. Now, outside of that, he went to Miami of Ohio. I coached there. There are a lot of good friends on his staff I know — Aaron Kromer, Bill Johnson, guys that’ve worked here. … He’s doing a good job there.”

Sean Payton, Saints coach

Payton and Sean McVay will become better acquainted Sunday.

Payton, 53, has spent 11 seasons as a head coach, leading his team to five playoff appearances and a Super Bowl victory.

McVay, 31, is in his first season as coach and is hoping to take the Rams to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Hot off the presser

“When you look at the 10 games, we’re 7-0 when we’re even or in the plus margin with turnovers, and when we’ve lost it, we’re 0-3.”

— Sean McVay, Rams coach

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“We’ve got to take care of the ball. We know that when we do take care of the ball, I think we’re 7-0, and when we don’t, when we lose that number on the turnover battle, we’re 0-3.

— Matt LaFleur, Rams offensive coordinator

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“I try on my part to take care of it, and I think if we do that as an offense, we’re 7-0 when we’ve been even or better in the turnover margin. That’s all of our seven wins, and the three losses have come when we’ve lost the turnover margin.”

— Jared Goff, Rams quarterback

Rams players and coaches sounded like a broken record talking about turnovers during their news conferences this week.

McVay emphasized takeaways and protecting the football after failing to create a turnover, and losing a fumble, in a loss to the Vikings.

The message seemed to resonate.

Around the NFC West

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson watched the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons play on Monday night football.

The Seahawks trailed in the final seconds as Blair Walsh attempted a 52-yard field goal.

The kick fell short, and the Falcons won 34-31.

Johnson felt relieved.

“Oh, my gosh, I was hoping he misses it!” Johnson said.

The Seahawks’ loss ensured the Rams would remain atop the NFC West.

The Seahawks fell to 6-4 but would have jumped to first place because of a victory over the Rams in October.

Once seemingly invincible at home, the Seahawks have lost two in a row at CenturyLink Field.

The Rams and Seahawks play in Seattle next month.

My Thiry

Expectations can be a crazy thing.

At the outset of the season, there were few for the Rams — except to improve on a disastrous 4-12 record in 2016.

But halfway through the season and a surprising 6-2 start, expectations quickly mounted.

Some predicted the Rams could go to the Super Bowl, others a deep playoff run.

On Sunday, the Rams could lose a second consecutive game for the first time this season, and I think they will.

If they lose, keep in mind, this is a young team under a first-year coach, and it wasn’t too long ago that any glimmer of improvement would have been considered a success.

Plus, going into December, they are still safely in the playoff hunt.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry


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