The Rams and Saints, because the two greatest groups within the NFC ought to, will play for the convention championship Sunday. Prime-seeded New Orleans earned the fitting to host the penultimate playoff recreation by beating second-seeded Los Angeles on the Superdome again in Week 9.
Not a lot separated the groups’ high-flying, balanced offenses within the first assembly. The Rams completed the common season because the higher-scoring offense total, ranked second within the NFL with 32.9 factors per recreation. However the Saints had been proper behind them at 31.5 factors per recreation. The Rams ranked No. Three in dashing offense; the Saints had been No. 6.
There was a much bigger distinction on the opposite facet of the ball. The Saints ranked No. 14 in each complete and scoring protection, together with No. 2 towards the run. The Rams had been No. 19 in complete, No. 20 in scoring and No. 23 towards the run.
In simply their second yr collectively as Rams coach and quarterback, Sean McVay and Jared Goff wish to advance to their first Tremendous Bowl. Saints counterparts Sean Payton and Drew Brees are in search of an opportunity to win their second Tremendous Bowl over the previous 10 seasons.
Though the QBs are on the marquee, the Rams’ Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Mark ingram are red-hot dashing duos working behind elite offensive strains. Defensively, linemen Aaron Donald and Cameron Jordan lead star-studded casts.
Given the amount of playmakers backed by nice teaching, there is not any cause this sequel within the Superdome cannot be much more compelling than the unique. Right here is how Sporting Information’ NFL consultants assume the sport will play out.
Rams vs. Saints: Picks, odds for NFC championship recreation
- Date, time: Solar., Jan 20, 3:05 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
- TV: FOX
- Odds: Saints -3.5; Complete: 57
Vinnie Iyer: Offense has been the calling card for each the Saints and the Rams, however this recreation will come right down to which staff can play higher protection. Los Angeles faces a a lot more durable run protection in New Orleans than the one it noticed towards, whereas the Saints get a way more favorable matchup for Kamara and Ingram.
The Saints’ secondary, which performed effectively towards the Eagles, additionally will get a break, because the Rams this time will probably be with out Cooper Kupp, a key receiving issue within the first recreation. In the meantime, the Rams’ corners needs to be having nightmares about Brees’ go-to man, Michael Thomas. Thomas posted 12 catches for 211 yards towards them in Week 9 and simply burned the Eagles for 12 catches for 171 yards.
McVay’s staff will transfer the ball with Gurley, Robert Woods and former Saint Brandin Cooks, however the coach cannot cowl up his staff’s quite a few defensive deficiencies away from Donald. The Saints are stable and deep on each stage, even after the large blow of dropping deal with Sheldon Rankins within the divisional spherical.
Los Angeles and New Orleans match one another for essentially the most half on offense and particular groups, however give Brees the sting over Goff at QB, and the Saints will play higher situational protection. The Superdome crowd additionally will present a giant enhance because the Saints march on to that different Mercedes-Benz venue in Atlanta.
Choose: Saints, 38-30
Tadd Haislop: A lot about this recreation tempts one to foretell a Rams victory. Initially, there’s the age-old generalization that it is extraordinarily troublesome to beat an NFL staff twice in a single season. And it isn’t like Los Angeles was blown out in New Orleans the primary time round.
Additionally presumably working within the Rams’ favor is their perspective. After that first assembly, when Thomas dominated LA cornerback Marcus Peters and Payton famous as a lot in his post-game feedback, Peters provided something of a warning: “Inform Sean Payton to maintain speaking that s—. We’ll see him quickly. You are feeling me? Yeah, as a result of I like what he was saying on the sidelines, too. Inform him, ‘Hold speaking that s—. And I hope to see you quickly.’ You hear me? After which we’ll have a pleasant little bowl of gumbo collectively.”
Gumbo time has arrived on the good time for the Rams. Their forceful dashing assault smothered the Cowboys’ inside line of defense and worn out the Dallas linebackers within the divisional spherical; now it is pitted towards a Saints protection that misplaced a key piece in Rankins towards the Eagles.
However the working recreation, mockingly, is the place LA’s benefits run out. If New Orleans’ offensive line can handle Donald and get to the second stage, its working backs can and can run all around the Los Angeles protection. Even after their sluggish begin within the divisional spherical, the Saints knew Kamara and Ingram couldn’t be stopped. The identical ought to apply within the convention championship recreation.
A recreation like that is precisely why the Saints padded their protection within the offseason — see Demario Davis and Marcus Davenport. And if it comes right down to the previous couple of possessions, when the QBs sometimes resolve the sport, everyone knows which staff has the benefit.
Choose: Saints, 31-24