The New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday. Kickoff is set for 3:05 EST at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and will be televised nationally on FOX.
Oddsmakers currently have the Saints listed as a 3.5-point home favorite with the total set at 57 points. Click here for the latest NFL betting odds on this weekend’s games.
Saints vs Rams Vegas Odds & Game Preview
The Rams come in off an impressive 30-22 win at home over the Cowboys. While it ended up being a one score game, it never felt like Los Angeles was in jeopardy of losing the game after they went into the half with a 20-7 lead. The Rams outgained Dallas 459 to 308 and had a 30 to 19 edge in first downs.
LA really dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The Rams rushed for 273 yards with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson both eclipsing 100-yards. All while the defense held Ezekiel Elliot and that high-powered Cowboys ground game to just 50 yards on 22 attempts. It led to a massive edge in time of possession (+12:26). Cowboys were also a miserable 1 of 10 on 3rd down conversions.
It wasn’t so easy for the Saints, but they found a way to take down the defending champs 20-14. It looked really bad for New Orleans early on, as the Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead. An interception by Marshon Lattimore on the Eagles third possession seemed to shift the momentum in the Saints favor and Lattimore would seal the game with another pick late in the 4th quarter.
You have to tip your hat to the New Orleans defense. After giving up back-to-back 70+ yard scoring drives on Philadelphia first two possessions, the Eagles managed just 99 total yards the rest of the way. The biggest concern for the Saints has to be that they only scored 20 points, despite Drew Brees throwing for over 300 yards and New Orleans rushing for a 137 yards.
As must of you are aware, this will be a rematch from the regular-season. The two teams played in New Orleans back in Week 9. The Saints came in at 7-1 (working on a 7-game winning streak) and the Rams were a perfect 8-0. New Orleans won the game 45-35 as a 2.5-point dog and the game went over the total of 57.
The Saints jumped out to a 35-17 lead at the half, but the Rams scored 18 unanswered to start the 2nd half and the two were sitting tied at 35-35 with less than 10 minutes to play. The dagger from New Orleans came on a 72-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas with just under 4 minutes to play to stretch the lead to 10.
Free NFL Pick & Betting Prediction: Rams +3.5
My early lean here would be take the field goal and the hook with Los Angeles. As difficult as it is to bet against the Saints at home, I just think the Rams are the more complete team and I trust their offense a lot more. I also think having already played in the Superdome earlier this season will work to their advantage.
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Not to take anything away from the Saints defense and how well they played over the final 3 quarters of their Division Round win against the Eagles, but a lot of that was bad offense by the Eagles. It was like the confidence was zapped from Foles when he threw that early pick and he missed a lot of throws the rest of the way. It didn’t help that Philadelphia couldn’t run the ball. The Eagles attempted just 16 rushes and totaled a mere 49 yards.
I’m not about to sit here and say the Rams are going to run all over this Saints defense the same way they did last week against Dallas, but clearly this team has found something in the 1-2 punch of Gurley and Anderson.
On the flip side of this, I think the Rams defense is way better than they are getting credit for. LA didn’t have the best defensive numbers during the regular season, but I think part of that was a lack of focus, especially in all those games where they jumped out to big leads. A lot of people were talking about how the Rams gave up 5.1 yards/carry against the run and how Dallas would run all over them. The Cowboys ended up with 50 yards and 2.3 yards/carry.
If they can take away the running game, that really only leaves them needing to focus their attention on Michael Thomas. He had 12 of Brees’ 28 completions against the Eagles and more than half the yards (171) that he threw for. Stopping Thomas is easier said than done, but one guy the Rams didn’t have in that first meeting is Aqib Talib. LA’s secondary did a real good job of holding Amari Cooper to just 6 catches for 65 yards last week. Give me the Rams +3.5!