NFC Championship Game Look-Ahead
#2-seed LA Rams (14-3) at #1-seed New Orleans Saints (14-3)
Date: Sunday, January 20, 2019
Time: 3:05 pm EST/ 12:05 pm PST
Location: Mercedes Benz Stadium – New Orleans, LA
Spread: SAINTS – 3.5
Moneyline: RAMS +155 | SAINTS -175
Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: RAMS (55%) SAINTS (45%)
The 2019 NFC Championship features arguably the two best teams in the Conference all season, the Rams (8-8 ATS) & Saints (10-7 ATS). These two teams faced off on the same field two months ago back in Week #9 in a game that treated fans to 90 points combined. The Saints jumped out to a commanding 35-17 lead at halftime nearly cashing the game total of (57) in the first 30 minutes. The contest seemed to be a personal game of ‘pitch and catch’ between Drew Brees & Michael Thomas (12 recs/211 yds/TD) who torched Rams DB Marcus Peters all game long. The Saints inexplicably went off at +1.5 home ‘dogs in the contest and rewarded their backers with a 45-35 win that was sealed with a 72- yard touchdown pass between the unstoppable duo of Brees & Thomas on that day. The books here in Vegas wont be so generous this time around not only making the Saints a field-goal favorite but also adding the dreaded ‘hook at most shops as the line currently sits at -3.5 around town.
The Rams defensive front looked dominant last week in their win over the Dallas Cowboys and the prohibitive favorite to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year–Aaron Donald–was all over the place shutting down Ezekiel Elliott and the ‘Boys running game. But its who the Rams added late in the season to their roster that could be the X-factor in this game–RB CJ Anderson. In three games with the Rams, Anderson has averaged 141 yards per game (100+ in every game) on the ground and helped form a potent 1-2 punch with star RB Todd Gurley. Last week, the Rams & Sean McVay unveiled a new wrinkle to their high flying offensive attack which has been built via the air with QB Jared Goff and his plethora of weapons at wide out and that was a 273 yard ground attack–most in team history. That could be the key element that was missing in the loss two months ago when the Rams couldnt keep Drew Brees & Co on the sideline and watched him torch them to the tune of nearly 400 yards passing and 4 TDs en route to 45 points against an over matched defense. In that first match up Gurley only gained 68 yards rushing but with Anderson now in the fold and the injury to Saints star run-stuffer Sheldon Rankins, who will miss the game with an ankle injury suffered last week vs the Eagles, the Rams may be able to find on edge they didnt have back in Week #9.
But its who the Rams added late in the season to their roster that could be the X-factor in this game–RB CJ Anderson. In three games with the Rams, Anderson has averaged 141 yards per game on the ground (100+ in every game) and helped form a potent 1-2 punch with star RB Todd Gurley.
Another huge difference this time around will be the Rams secondary having CB Aquib Talib on the field as he was on the IR back in Week #9. It would be safe to surmise that the Rams will stick Talib to Thomas and avoid the match up with Peters in coverage as Brees would surely exploit it once again. But let’s not forget that the Payton + Brees combo is 6-0 SU in home playoff games and if the Rams try and double Thomas with Talib by rolling safety help over the top– the middle of the field could open up for the Saints All-Pro RB Alvin Kamara who also feasted big time in that first match up rushing for 82 yards and two scores while catching four more out of the backfield and adding another touchdown via the pass. Kamara is a nightmare for opposing defenses and ‘on paper’ has a cake match-up with a LAR defense that ranked dead last in the NFL with yielding over 5 yards per rush.
But let’s not forget that the Payton + Brees combo is 6-0 SU in home playoff games and if the Rams try and double Thomas with Talib by rolling safety help over the top the middle of the field could open up for Saints All-Pro RB Alvin Kamara who also feasted big time in that first match up rushing for 82 yards and two scores while catching four more out of the backfield and adding another touchdown via the pass.
Rams-Saints Betting Trends
- The Saints are 3-1 SU in their last four games this season but 0-4 ATS in those games.
- The OVER is 7-0 in the Saints last six home playoff games.
- The UNDER is 5-1 in the Rams last six road games.
- The home team is a perfect 7-0 ATS in the last 7 meetings between the clubs.
- The OVER is 5-1 in the last six match ups in New Orleans.
- The Rams are 14-3 SU but only 8-8 ATS on the season.
DT S. Rankins OUT ANKLE
WR C. Kupp OUT KNEE
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