NFC Conference Championship: Odds, Previews and Pick

When New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore took a butterfingered gift right in the breadbasket courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, the NFC Conference Championship was officially set. The Saints knocked off the Eagles, 20-14, in the NFC Divisional Round Sunday afternoon, securing the top spot in the conference championship.

New Orleans Saints        -3 ½            -165    un 56½
Los Angeles Rams            +3½            +145   un 56½

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Saturday night the Los Angeles Rams unleashed a dominating running attack via Todd Gurley and former Denver Broncos Super Bowl hero C.J. Anderson to run the Dallas Cowboys off the field at the L.A. Colosseum to the tune of a 30-22 victory that was never really seemed that close.

While both teams finished with identical regular season records, the Saints beat the Rams, 45-35, back on Nov. 4 and that head-to-head victory secured them home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs.

Related: NFL Betting Guide

Los Angeles Rams (14-3) at New Orleans Saints (14-3)

Line: Saints -3.5

Broadcast: FOX

Kickoff: Sunday, 3:05 p.m.

Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

The History

The Saints and Rams go back a long way and were both in the NFC West from 1970-2001, meeting twice a season over that span. Los Angeles leads the all-time series 41-34.

In spite of that shared history, the two teams have met in the playoffs only once, on Dec. 30, 2000, in the Wild Card round. The Saints won, 31-28, thanks to a muffed punt from Rams wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim that ended the game. Kurt Warner famously played that game with a concussion, throwing for 365 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

This is the third official meeting between Sean McVay and Sean Payton as head coaches. They are 1-1. Last season, McVay’s Rams beat the Saints, 26-20, in the Colosseum. This season, of course, the Saints beat the Rams in the Superdome.

Los Angeles Rams (14-3)

The Rams come in hot, winning their last three games in convincing fashion. The downside? Only one of those teams, the Dallas Cowboys, had a winning record. Los Angeles added C.J. Anderson to the team right before that streak started and have unleashed an entirely new-look to their rush offense. It allowed them to dominate the Cowboys and time of possession. It came out of the same formations the Rams normally use and one that put up a ton of yardage on the Saints just two months ago. Now, New Orleans will have to factor that into their defensive plan.

New Orleans Saints (14-3)

As good as Drew Brees has been this year, he’s not put up the yardage numbers he usually does. That’s because he doesn’t have to. The Saints boast their own two-headed rushing attack with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. And while the Rams have an elite set of receivers themselves, the biggest match up issue will be New Orleans’ Michael Thomas, whose size and speed are a problem for any defense.

The Pick

There’s no question the Saints have a huge home field advantage in the Superdome. They’re an elite offense and Brees has already secured his spot in the NFL Hall of Fame regardless of what happens Sunday afternoon. Defensively, they’re good enough to win it all. You could, of course, say that about all the final four teams — even the much-maligned Kansas City Chiefs. Regardless of how much you like the Saints, there’s no reason to believe this one won’t be a nail-biter and go down to the wire. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see this line drop to -2.5 before kickoff. My pick is RAMS +3.5

NFC Conference Championship: Odds, Previews and Pick
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NFC Conference Championship: Odds, Previews and Pick
NFC Conference Championship: Odds, Previews and Pick

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, and many other publications.

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