On Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams will head to Louisiana for a battle against the New Orleans Saints with the victor heading to the Super Bowl. This game is a regular season rematch where New Orleans came away with a big NFC conference win.
Will the Saints be able to duplicate that success or will the Rams learn from their mistakes and win the NFC title game? Kickoff inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is at 3:05 PM ET.
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The following odds are courtesy of live odds feed:
|Betting Data||Los Angeles Rams||New Orleans Saints|
|Current S/U record||14-3||14-3|
|2018 ATS Home||4-3-2||4-5|
|2018 ATS Away||4-4||6-2|
|2018 O/U Home||6-2-1||5-4|
|2018 O/U Away||2-6||2-6|
Sunday’s matchup will mark the 76th time these two teams have played against each other. Currently, the Rams hold the advantage with a 41-34 record. Their only postseason encounter came in 2000, and the Saints won that game 31 to 28 at home. New Orleans won their match up on Nov 4, 2018, and has taken two of the last 3 overall meetings.
The Rams (14-3) are coming off an impressive 30-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The score doesn’t indicate how Los Angeles punished Dallas with a two-headed rushing attack that tallied 238 yards and 3 TDs between Anderson and Gurley.
For the Rams to win at New Orleans this weekend, they will need to duplicate this ground success and limit the Saints’ rushing attack. With their win last weekend, the Rams are now 20-25 all-time in the postseason. This will be their 10th NFC title game and they are 3-6 all-time.
Their last NFC title game appearance was in 2001 and they won that game over the Eagles, before losing in the Super Bowl to the Patriots.
Last weekend, the Saints (14-3) won a tough ball game over the Eagles by a score of 30-22. In fact, some might say that New Orleans escaped the Divisional Round game as the Eagles were driving down the field to score a game winning TD before a costly turnover by Alshon Jeffery.
New Orleans will look to defend their home field in the NFC title game against the Rams and earn a trip to the SB for the first time since 2009. The Saints are 9-10 all-time in the playoffs and 1-1 in NFC Championship games.
The Saints opened as a 3.5 point favorite with most online betting sites. However, there are a few sportsbooks that have dropped that spread to 3 points in favor of New Orleans. The Over/Under opened at 57.5 points with most football betting sites, but has settled at 57 total points for the game. There’s a small chance that these lines shift as we get closer to the games.
From the beginning of the 2018 regular season, the Saints and the Rams have been the two best teams in the NFC. So, it’s only fitting that these teams battle it out for the NFC Championship and a spot in the Super Bowl.
The Rams heading to New Orleans for this game, is largely due to their loss against the Saints in November. That gave New Orleans the tie breaker and the home field advantage for the postseason.
In their first encounter, the Saints won 45 to 35 and gave the Rams their first loss on the season. New Orleans tallied 487 total yards and never trailed in the game. Just like with Philly last weekend, the Saints will see a different LA Rams team than the one they played against in the regular season. The two major differences are: a newly created ground attack and the return of Aqib Talib.
Talib won’t win the game by himself, but he will help to balance out the Rams secondary.
Talib returned for the Lions game on Dec 2nd, and since then, the Rams have improved dramatically on defense only allowing 19.5 ppg, which is down from the 25.6 ppg they allowed during the first 11 games of the season. Without Talib, Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and 4 TDs. I don’t see Drew hitting those numbers this week.
Another huge difference is that the Rams now have a two-pronged rushing attack that has been devastating since the team signed CJ Anderson. In 3 games with LA, Anderson has rushed for 422 yards and 4 TDs. He’s averaging 140 rushing yards per game.
This means that when the Rams need to rest Todd Gurley, Anderson gives them a serious running threat, which was clear in the Divisional Round game against a great Dallas defense. Gurley rushed for 115 yards and 1 TD against Dallas, while Anderson rushed for 123 yards and 2 TDs.
The Saints are very familiar with a two pronged rushing attack as they have the best 1-2 combo in the league with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. In their first encounter, Kamara and Ingram combined to rush for 115 yards and 2 TDs. They will need to duplicate that performance this weekend in order to beat the Rams.
For LA, they only had 92 total rushing yards as the Saints keyed in on Gurley. Now, they will have to contend with Anderson also, which makes the Rams even more dangerous.
I believe the Rams are an improved defensive team with Talib back and Anderson makes the ground game even more deadly. I see the Rams having what it takes to go into New Orleans and winning this game. I think there’s great value in the Rams moneyline of +155. If you want to play it safe, take the Rams getting +3.5 points. For me, it’s all about Los Angeles winning outright.
LA is 14-3 SU in their last 17 overall and 9-2 SU in their last 11 road games. The Saints are 2-2 SU in their last 4 games during January and 11-13 SU in their last 24 overall during the month.
This game will come down to whichever team can win the battle in the trenches. After seeing what the Eagles did to New Orleans last weekend and seeing what the Rams did to the Cowboys, I believe Los Angeles wins this game outright 34 to 30.
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