Los Angeles Rams (13-3) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)
NFL: Sunday, January 20th, 2019 at 3:05 pm (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
Line and Odds: New Orleans Saints -3.5 Over/Under: 56.5
Free ESPN NFL Picks New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams are hoping to continue the playoff momentum they created in the Divisional Round by winning the NFC Championship game, this week. A win would put the Rams into the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2001 season, when they were still the St. Louis Rams. This would be the first time the Rams made it to the Super Bowl as a Los Angeles-based franchise since the 1979 season. Los Angeles made it to the NFC Championship Game by beating the Dallas Cowboys 30-22. Despite having the reputation of a flashy team, last week’s win over Dallas was driven by an overpowering run game and a dominant run defense. The Rams totaled 273 rushing yards on the backs of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. C.J. Anderson, who was cut by Carolina earlier in the season, ran for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries. Anderson has been a revelation for the Rams, rushing for a combined 300 yards in the last 2 games of the regular season. Todd Gurley returned from injury by rushing for 115 yards and 1 touchdown on 16 carries. The Cowboys were 4th in rush yards allowed per attempt, so this rushing performance was especially impressive.
The most surprising aspect of the Dallas game was how Los Angeles was able to stuff the Cowboys’ run game. The Rams entered the game giving up 5.1 yards per carry, ranking last in the NFL. Dallas’ Pro-Bowl running back, Ezekiel Ellott, was held to just 47 yards on 20 carries. Los Angeles was able to stop the Cowboys’ offense from doing what they wanted to do. If the Rams can play defense like they did last week, they have a great chance to win because their offense is already explosive. They score 32.9 points per game, ranking 2nd in the NFL. Los Angeles also ranks 2nd in the NFL with 6.4 yards per play. They give up 24.0 points per game on defense, which ranks 20th in the league. The Rams are 27th in yards per play allowed, but they are able to feast on takeaways. Wade Phillips’ defense notched 30 forced turnovers, which ranked 3rd in the NFL.
The New Orleans Saints are looking to go to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season. If history is any indicator, they have a great shot to accomplish that goal. Since Drew Brees became the Saints’ quarterback and Sean Payton became the Saints’ head coach, New Orleans is 6-0 in home playoff games. They’ve won those games by an average of 10.83 points per game, but they’ve gone just 2-4 against the spread. The Saints earned the #1 seed by going 13-3 in the regular season. New Orleans went 6-2 at home during the regular season, but one of those losses was to Carolina in the season finale when New Orleans had nothing to play for. Drew Brees and many other starters rested, so it’s hard to count that game against them. New Orleans earned their spot in the NFC Championship game by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 in the Divisional Round. Philadelphia jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter and the Saints looked sluggish early on. New Orleans turned the momentum of the game by running a successful fake punt with 11:51 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. The Saints scored a touchdown on that possession and outscored the Eagles 20-0 from the 2nd quarter on. New Orleans outgained the Eagles 420 yards to 250 and dominated time of possession 37:50 to 22:10. They held the Eagles to 49 rushing yards on 16 carries for a 3.1 yards per carry average.
The Saints run defense, that will have to stop that dynamic duo of Gurley and Anderson, ranked 2nd in the NFL in rush yards allowed per carry (3.6 ypc). Overall, the Saints allow 5.7 yards per play, which ranks 19th in the league. They forced 24 takeaways which ranks 13th in the NFL. The Saints allow 22.1 points per game, ranking 14th in scoring defense. They are 24th in 3rd down defense and 23rd in red zone touchdown defense. This Saints team is still driven by their high-powered offense. They rank 3rd in scoring offense, averaging 31.5 points per game. The Saints are 7th in 3rd down percentage and 4th in red zone touchdown percentage. New Orleans averages 6.0 yards per play, which ranks 7th in the NFL. They only turned the ball over 16 times in the regular season, ranking 3rd in the league.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
LA Rams is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
LA Rams is 14-3 SU in its last 17 games
LA Rams is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games when playing New Orleans
New Orleans is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
New Orleans is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games
New Orleans is 15-2 SU in its last 17 games at home
ESPN NFL Scores Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints
I like the Los Angeles Rams to cover the spread against the New Orleans Saints. The tipping point with this line is the extra half-point given to the Saints. In NFL betting, 3 is a key number (along with 7, 10, etc). Instead of setting the spread at New Orleans -3, the oddsmakers set this spread at New Orleans -3.5. This makes the Rams bet more attractive to sharp bettors. I think the Rams will be able to run on the great Saints run defense. It will resemble the Cowboys-Rams game from an offensive play-calling standpoint. The Saints have a great offense, but the Rams offense takes a backseat to no one. The Rams have defensive talent and a legendary defensive coordinator, and we saw the fruits of that in the divisional round. It is a different defense with Aqib Talib in the lineup, so Michael Thomas won’t have the same big game he had in the first matchup. The Rams were favored by 1 in the first matchup, so I think the 3.5 I’m getting in this meeting is good value. Take the Rams and give the points.
Los Angeles Rams +3.5