The NFC comes down to the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints on Sunday in a key NFC Championship Game with a trip to Super Bowl LIII on the line. For these two teams this will be a rematch of their Week 9 showdown in at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in which the Saints picked up the 45-35 shootout win.
In that contest the two teams combined for over 980 yards on offense and 80 points while neither defense could slow down their opponent. Jared Goff finished the day throwing for 391 yards on 28 of 40 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. Drew Brees connected on 25 of 36 passes for 346 yards with four touchdowns passes. Meanwhile Alvin Kamara picked up 82 yards on 19 carries with two rushing touchdowns.
Now as they get set for their rematch in the NFC Championship Game, the big question for both teams is whether or not their defenses will make the added adjustments to slow down the opposing offense. This includes slowing down Michael Thomas who pulled in 12 catches for 211 yards with a touchdown. On the other side, Brandin Cooks pulled in six catches for 114 yards with a touchdown.
Here are the keys to the game for both the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints on Sunday January 20th, 2019 @ the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
NFL Keys to the Game
Los Angeles Rams – Run the Football, Avoid the Noise
The Rams will make their second trip of the season to New Orleans in what has the potential to be another shootout. That said the biggest keys for the Rams entering this contest will be their ability to run the football and their ability to take the Saints fans out of the game often. In the team’s 30-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend, the team rushed for 273 yards led by C.J. Anderson 123 yards with two rushing touchdowns while Todd Gurley added 115 yards with one rushing touchdown. The success led to the Rams controlling the clock (36:13 to 23:47) while limiting the Cowboys possessions. Along with running the ball, the Rams will need to score often and make a few key defensive plays to take the Saints fans out of the contest.
New Orleans Saints – All Ride on the Defense
The Saints have one of the top offenses in the NFL with Brees, Kamara and Thomas but their success on Sunday will come from the defensive side of the ball. Over their final 11 games including their NFC divisional round win over the Philadelphia Eagles the Saints have allowed just two teams to score more than 28 points (1-1 in those games). Over that stretch the Saints were 9-2 helping them win the NFC South and the top spot with the best record in the conference at 13-3. While the team will rely on their offense to score, all of their success will ride on their defense slowing down the Rams high powered offense.
NFL Betting Trends
Los Angeles Rams – The Rams enter this contest as a difficult pick for sports handicappers after finishing the regular season with an 8-8 record against the spread and now 0-1 in the playoffs. Along with that the Rams are just 4-4 against the spread on the road this season. Along with those struggles the Rams have covered the spread in just one of their last five contests against teams with a winning record and just 21 times over their last 66 road games against teams with a winning record. Despite the struggles the Rams have responded after winning of late covering the spread in three of their last five games after putting a win in the standings.
New Orleans Saints – As they prepare for the NFC Championship Game, the Saints have been an interesting team for sports handicappers to take advantage of. While the team is 10-7 against the spread on the season but have posted just a 4-5 record against the spread at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season. The struggles don’t stop just at home as the Saints have failed to coverd the spread in four of their last five NFC games as well as their last four games. On a positive note the Saints have a 5-2 record against the spread in their last seven games in January.
Head 2 Head – During the Regular season the Saints picked up the 45-35 win at home behind a strong offensive performance. Now as these two teams get set for their NFC Championship showdown the advantage leans towards the Saints as the home team has covered the spread in seven straight matchups. Over the past five meetings dating back, the Rams are 3-2 while failing to win in two trips to New Orleans. In each of those two contests at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome the Saints won by double digits.