NFC – Rams at Saints


The Rams (14-3 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) captured the 2017 NFC West title with an 11-5 record, but were bounced in the Wild Card round by the reigning NFC champion Falcons. Los Angeles proved that 2017 was not a fluke as the Rams jumped out to an impressive 8-0 start before losing at New Orleans in Week 9. The Rams’ offense lit up scoreboards around the league by posting 33 points or more in each of the first five games, while averaging 32.9 point per game on the season, which ranked second in the league behind Kansas City.

Los Angeles stumbled in December against a pair of eventual playoff teams by losing to Chicago and Philadelphia, including a 30-23 setback to the Eagles as a 13 ½-point favorite. The Rams started the season covering their first three games, but went on a 2-8-1 ATS stretch prior to back-to-back covers in blowouts over Arizona and San Francisco.

Los Angeles picked up its first playoff win since 2004 in last Saturday’s 30-22 triumph over Dallas to cash as 7 ½-point favorites. The Rams rushed for 273 yards on 48 carries, while C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley each racked up over 100 yards on the ground and a combined three touchdowns.

The Saints (14-3 SU, 10-7 ATS) started the season with a head-scratching loss to the Buccaneers, while needing a last-minute field goal to sneak past the Browns. However, that three-point win over Cleveland started a 10-game winning streak for New Orleans, which eventually ended after Thanksgiving in a 13-10 loss at Dallas.

During the 10-game hot streak, the Saints won seven of those games by double-digits, while compiling an incredible 9-1 ATS mark. The Saints wrapped up their second consecutive NFC South title following a three-year stretch of 7-9 seasons. New Orleans rallied from a 14-0 deficit to eliminate defending champion Philadelphia, 20-14 in the divisional round last Sunday. Although the Saints failed to cover as 8 ½-point favorites, New Orleans improved to 6-1 in its last seven playoff openers under Sean Payton.


Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff set career highs in completion percentage (64.9%), passing yardage (4,688), and touchdown passes (32) in his third pro season. Goff put together three games of at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions, but also threw for less than 200 yards in three of his final five games. Gurley reached the end zone 21 times this season, including 17 times on the ground. The former University of Georgia star finished with seven games of at least 100 yards rushing, but was limited to 68 yards in the 45-35 loss at New Orleans in Week 9.

Drew Brees threw for over 300 yards in six of eight home games, but finished with his least amount of passing yards (3,992) in his 13-year stint with the Saints. However, Brees also set a career-low in interceptions thrown by getting picked off only five times, while throwing one interception in the first 10 games.

Running back Alvin Kamara accumulated nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 14 rushing touchdowns in his second season with New Orleans. Wide receiver Michael Thomas put together his third consecutive 1,000 yard receiving season, which includes a 211-yard performance and the clinching touchdown against the Rams in Week 9.


Under Sean McVay, the Rams have excelled away from the L.A. Coliseum by compiling a 13-3 mark on the road the last two seasons. Los Angeles topped the 30-point mark in six road contests, while its only two away defeats came at New Orleans and Chicago. The Rams cashed the UNDER in six of eight road contests, while allowing 16 points or less in five of those games.

The Saints lost their season opener to the Buccaneers at the Superdome and the season finale to the Panthers (without Brees and other key starters). However, New Orleans won the middle six home games, while covering four times. The Saints are listed at their lowest home price as a favorite this season as the previous lowest home chalk spot came against the Redskins as 5 ½-point favorites in a Week 5 blowout, 43-19.


The Rams entered the Superdome in Week 9 with a perfect 8-0 record, while the Saints were riding a six-game winning streak. New Orleans jumped out to a commanding 35-14 second quarter lead, highlighted by three Brees touchdown passes and three scores from Kamara. However, the Rams stormed back to score 21 consecutive points to even the game in the fourth quarter on a Goff 41-yard touchdown hook-up with Cooper Kupp.

Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz put the Saints back in front by drilling a 54-yard field goal with 6:23 remaining, 38-35. After the Rams failed to tie the game on their next possession, Brees hit Thomas on a 72-yard scoring connection to put away the victory as a 1 ½-point underdog and send L.A. to its first loss of the season.

The home team has captured the last six meetings since 2010, including in each of the past three seasons. The Rams held off the Saints at the Coliseum, 26-20 in 2017 in spite of Kamara’s 188 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for only the second time ever as New Orleans edged Los Angeles, 31-28 at the Superdome in the 2000 Wild Card round.


The Saints have won consecutive games in the same postseason only once in franchise history, coming in their Super Bowl run in 2009. New Orleans is playing in its third-ever NFC Championship, as the Saints were routed by the Bears in 2006 coincidentally after beating the Eagles in the divisional playoffs. The Saints held off the Vikings in overtime, 31-28 in the 2009 NFC Championship, but failed to cover as four-point favorites.

The Rams are participating in their first NFC title game since 2001, when they held off the Eagles, 29-24 to advance to Super Bowl XXXVI against the Patriots. The last time the L.A. Rams were in the conference championship came back in 1989, as they were destroyed by the eventual champion 49ers, 30-3.

HANDICAPPER’S CORNER NFL expert Joe Nelson checks in on this matchup and first highlights the importance of the ground game for both teams, “The Rams averaged 139 rushing yards per game for the third-most productive ground attack in the NFL and incredibly Los Angeles did not lose a fumble from a running back on a rushing play this season. The Saints aren’t known for defense but New Orleans allowed just over 80 yards per game on the ground on 3.6 yards per rush, second in the NFL on both accounts.”

From a historical standpoint, the top seeds in the title games have been successful, as Nelson goes further into this recent trend, “The home team has won five straight NFC Championships with the #1 seed beating the #2 seed in four of those games including last season’s blowout win for Philadelphia as a slight home underdog. The Saints have been a home underdog twice in the past two seasons with the win over the Rams this year and a loss to New England last season, but New Orleans has not been a home favorite of fewer than 4 points since December of 2016, going 2-4 SU and ATS in the last six instances as a slight home favorite.”


The Saints are the current Super Bowl LIII favorites at 7/4, according to while the Rams sit at 18/5, which is the longest odds of the four remaining teams. New Orleans is currently a 3 ½-point favorite at most books, while the total sits between 56 ½ and 57 at many sports books.

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