It’s only fitting the NFC Championship Game has boiled down to the only two 13-win teams from the regular season.
WHEN: MONDAY 21 JANUARY, 7:00AM, MERCEDES BENZ SUPERDOME
New Orleans Saints – $1.53
LA Rams – $2.50
The Rams earned a trip to their first Conference title game since 2001 following a pretty convincing 30-22 win over the Cowboys at home last week, highlighted by a 273-yard rushing performance – the most in team history.
For New Orleans, things weren’t quite so clear cut in a 20-14 win over last year’s Super Bowl champs, but the Saints accomplished a minor milestone themselves – their 14-point comeback over the Eagles was the largest in franchise history.
We’re now left with two fairly evenly matched sides, both of which can torch the scoreboard at a moments notice. When these two sides met earlier in November, it was the Saints walking away with a 45-35 home win, but you’d be foolish to read too much into Week 9’s result.
Things have changed a lot since then, particularly for the Rams. Running back Todd Gurley is by far the most dangerous man on the field, and when you throw in the likes of C.J. Anderson, suddenly Los Angeles become an entirely different beast.
You have to take note of what the Rams did last week to the Cowboys to fully understand, though. Dallas had allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the league entering the Divisional Round, but somehow allowed both Gurley and Anderson to combine for 238-yards and a whopping trio of touchdowns.
So how do the Saints fare against the run?
This is where it gets interesting. New Orleans allowed the second-fewest rushing yards during the regular season. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen dialed up the pressure on Nick Foles last week, but he also managed to hold the Eagles to just 49-rushing yards in the win.
Of course, there’s a lot more to this game than just running the ball, and that’s where the Saints have the edge. Even after a rocky first quarter start last week, Drew Brees hooked up with Michael Thomas for 171-yards and a score on just 12 receptions.
It’s the little things that should see the Saints over the line this week however, and that all starts under the headset. Head coach Sean Payton entered half time down 14-10 against Philly, knowing full well that he needed running back Alvin Kamara to involve himself in the passing game. Lo and behold, the 24-year-old finished with 104 scrimmage yards and some crucial first down plays.
The man on the opposite side of the field knows a thing or two about creativity, but this is a huge test for Sean McVay in a tough road venue, something the Rams haven’t seen since Week 16.
Tip: Back the Saints 7-12 @ $5.00