MetroBet takes a glance at the NFC Championship game set for this Sunday afternoon between the Rams and Saints.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
Moneyline: Rams +165, Saints -185
Betting Total: 56.5 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 3:05 p.m., FOX
The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, both 13-3 in the regular season, seemed destined to meet in the NFC Championship game. They were given stiff tests in the divisional round by the Cowboys and Eagles, respectively, but each club survived. Given their dominance at home this season and their 10-point victory over L.A. in the Superdome in Week 9, it’s no surprise that New Orleans is favored by more than a field goal here. However, an upset could be in the making.
Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson ran wild on Dallas at the L.A. Coliseum last week, as each man recorded a 100-yard rushing game. Like the Cowboys, the Saints’ calling card on defense is their run stopping (second in the league at 78.4 yards allowed per contest). If the Rams can get their run game going as they did a week ago, they’ll be in good shape in the NFC Championship game.
Jared Goff was able to gash the Saints’ subpar secondary in Week 9 despite an ordinary performance by Gurley (13 carries, one for 24 yards, but 68 total yards), as he went 28 for 40 with 391 passing yards and three TDs. The 35 points L.A. tallied in that defeat was no aberration; New Orleans allowed over 24 points per game at home this season, which was 24th in the league. The loss of defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to a ruptured Achilles in the Eagles game was a crushing blow.
The Saints’ offense, meanwhile, has cooled considerably in recent weeks. Drew Brees and company have topped 20 points just twice in their last five games (excluding Week 17 when Brees sat out). That’s led to a 1-4 record against the spread in that span. Michael Thomas is fresh off a 12-catch, 171-yard effort against the Eagles, and he did register 12 catches for 211 yards against L.A. in Week 9, but Aqib Talib wasn’t active then. His presence in the secondary on Sunday could stymie the Saints’ aerial attack to some extent. The Rams’ defense on the road was certainly better than it was at home, as they allowed just 19.9 points per contest in away games (6th in the league) compared to 23.9 points per game overall (20th).
Rams vs. Saints has the makings of a high-scoring but closely-contested tilt. Bettors would be wise to grab the points with L.A. and give a good look at the Over despite the high total.
Prediction: Rams win, 34-31
The play: Rams +3.5 and Rams vs. Saints Over 56.5 points Parlay (+264)