The Los Angeles Rams are the last team standing in the way from preventing Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints from winning the NFC Championship and advancing to the Super Bowl.
The Saints (14-3) are 3-point favorites at home in the Superdome. The Rams (14-3) last appeared in the Super Bowl in 17 years. The Saints won Super Bowl XLIII nine years ago, but have not been back since.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Saints are +180 odds to win the Super Bowl. The Rams are +300 odds to win the NFL title.
Los Angeles Rams (14-3) at New Orleans Saints (14-3)
Kickoff: 12:05pm PT
Location: Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Point Spread: NO -3
Moneyline: NO -165, LA +145
The Saints are 7-2 at the Superdome this season. This is a rematch from Week 9 when the Saints defeated the Rams 45-35.
Old Man Brees
Brees turned 40 recently. It’s been nine years since he won the Super Bowl and he knows that he has a narrow window to win one more.
It’s been an amazing season for Brees (32 TD, 5 INT, 80.7 QBR) and he passed Peyton Manning to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer. He also joined the elite 500 TD Club with the likes of Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
The older he gets, the better he makes decisions. Brees connected on 74.4 percent of his passes, which marked a career high. His five picks tied him for second-fewest in the NFL.
Two Dynamic RB Duos
CJ Anderson emerged as the Rams secret weapon. The Oakland Raiders cut the former Broncos running back and the Rams happily gobbled him up. Initially, the Rams tapped Anderson to fill in for Todd Gurley during the last two games of the season. Sean McVay liked what he saw and utilized his strengths during the postseason.
Anderson has now become the X-factor for the Rams. The Saints will have a tough task trying to contain the speedy Gurley (17 rushing TD, 4.9 yards per carry, 4 receiving TDs), but now they have to stop a runaway tank with Anderson.
Against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round, Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100-yards. They combined for 238 yards and three touchdowns against the #5 run defense. In the NFC title game, they face the second-best run D in the NFL.
The Saints have their own bodacious tag-team in the backfield. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were the most dangerous tandem before the late-season emergence of Anderson. They averaged 4.7 yards per carry and combined for 1,528 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. They combined for 132 receptions and 5 receiving touchdowns.
Who Has a Better Defense?
Two of the top offenses meet head-to-head, but the Saints have the better defense. These two teams combined for 80 points in their first meeting. The Saints are #8 in defensive DVOA this season.
The high-flying Rams crank out 32.9 points per game, which is second best in the NFL. The Saints put up 31.5 points per game and ranked third overall.
The Saints defense only allows 22.1 points per game and they are ranked #14 overall. The Rams allowed 24 points per game this season.
The Saints have the second-best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing only 80.2 yards per game. They held Gurley to only 68 yards in their win during Week 9. The Saints boast a stonewall run D, but have a terrible secondary. Their pass defense allowed 268.9 passing yards per game, which was fourth-worst in the NFL.
The Rams are ranked #14 against the pass, but only #23 against the run. Aqib Talib will be in the lineup against the Saints this time around. He missed the regular season match up and Brees took advantage of his replacement. Michael Thomas destroyed the Rams for 12 receptions and 211 yards.
Sean Bowl: McVay Vs. Payton
Sean McVay, 32, is only in his second year as a head coach in the NFL. He went 24-8 with the Rams the last two seasons. Payton, 55, is trying to guide his team to a second Super Bowl berth inside of nine seasons. When Payton was coaching in the Super Bowl, McVay was 23 and at the start of his coaching career as the wide receivers coach for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League.
McVay is a great coach, he just does not have much experience in the playoffs. He’s 1-1 in the postseason and the Rams went 24-8 in the regular season. You never know if/when he will make a rube mistake. On the flip side, Payton is 8-5 in the playoffs and he ran the table in 2009 to win the Super Bowl.
Against the Spread
The Saints converted 88.3 percent of their fourth down attempts, which was second-best in the league this season. The Rams were third-worst with a 40 percent success rate.
The Rams are 2-5 ATS in their last seven playoff games. The Rams are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 road playoff games.
The Saints are 0-4 ATS in their last four games.
The over hit in six of the last seven playoff games for the Saints. The over is 10-4-1 in the Saints last 15 playoff games. The over is 6-2 in the last 8 games for the Rams against winning teams.