The two best teams in the NFL will battle in the NFC Championship game on Sunday for a trip to the Super Bowl. Both of these teams finished the regular season 13-3, with New Orleans Saints holding the edge thanks to a 45-35 victory over Los Angeles in Week 9. The Rams reached the championship game thanks to a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday. New Orleans trailed Philadelphia early before battling back to beat the Eagles 20-14.

NFL: Sunday, January 20, 2019, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Rams Down Cowboys to Snap Conference Finals

It was 2002, the last time the Los Angeles Rams, then residing in St. Louis, reached the NFC Championship game. The team that was the “greatest show on turf” was an offensive showcase, much like the 2018 version of the Rams, who reached the conference title game thanks to a 30-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.

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The Cowboys led 7-3 after the first quarter, but Los Angeles would respond with 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 20-7 lead heading into halftime. It was 23-7 before the Cowboys would finally reach the end zone again, but they would get no closer than eight points. The ground game for the Rams proved to be the big story, as CJ Anderson rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns and Todd Gurley had 115 yards rushing and a score to lead the way.

The performance of Anderson came from out of nowhere, as he had just 299 yards rushing and 43 carries during the regular season. Gurley established himself as an MVP candidate from the very start, rushing for 1251 yards and 17 touchdowns despite sitting out the last two weeks of the season. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 4688 yards and 32 touchdowns this season, with just 12 interceptions. He completed 64.9% of his passes. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks both had over 1200 yards receiving.

The Rams are averaging 32.8 points per contest while allowing 23.9 points per game. The offense is generating 423.2 yards per game while the defense is giving up 355.6 yards per contest. Offensively, the Rams rank in the top five in most categories and have the top rushing attack of the remaining four teams in the playoffs (147.3).

Saints Rally to Down Eagles, 20-14

The top team in the NFC nearly found themselves out of the playoffs when they found themselves trailing the Philadelphia Eagles 14-0 after the first quarter on Sunday. However, the New Orleans Saints would battle back with 20 unanswered points, including 10 in the second quarter as they would pull off the six point victory to advance to the NFC title game.

Quarterback Drew Brees led the comeback, throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Michael Thomas was his number one target, as Thomas made 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. Marshon Lattimore made two interceptions to help lead the defense.

Brees continues to shine, throwing for 3992 yards this season while completing 74.4% of his passes. He had 32 touchdowns with just five interceptions and was sacked adjust 17 times this year. The veteran clearly is getting better with age. Michael Thomas had a career year, making 125 catches for 1405 yards and nine touchdowns. Alvin Kamara has become a dual threat, rushing for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns while making 81 catches for 709 yards and four scores.

New Orleans averaged 30.8 points per contest while allowing 21.6 points per game. They averaged 381.6 yards per game while giving up 343.2 yards per contest. A key to this contest is going to be the Rams ground game against this Saints defense, as New Orleans allowed just 78.4 yards per game rushing on average.

Trends:

Los Angeles:

  • 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against teams with a winning record.
  • 2-5 ATS in their last seven playoff games.
  • 21-45 in their last 66 games on the road when facing a team with a winning record at home.

New Orleans:

  • 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in January.
  • 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall.
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five games against NFC teams.

The Winner Prediction

Like the Patriots and Chiefs, this should be a fantastic contest that should be an offensive showcase. These two teams combined for 80 points in their last game in a fantastic contest that showcases two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Both have outstanding running games and both quarterbacks have weapons that could easily turn this contest around.

New Orleans has the better defense, but that isn’t going to be the deciding factor here. The difference maker should be Brees. He has been to this contest before, taking his team to the Super Bowl a few years back. Look for New Orleans to Win by seven.

The Pick: New Orleans Saints -3.0 (-110)

The Total

One need look no further than that epic contest in Week 9 to see how this game ends. The total has gone over in five of the last six meetings between these two teams in New Orleans and has gone over in nine of the last 13 overall.

The total is set at 57.0 for this game and that is just too low. The Saints will win, 38-31, so take the over.

The Pick: over 57.0 (-110)

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