Saints To Edge Out Rams To Advance To Super Bowl LIII

Will Brees rise to the occasion?

The New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams will battle it out in the Superdome in the NFC Championship Game to earn a place in Super Bowl LIII.

The Saints were forced to stage a comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round. Drew Brees and company were able to rally from a 14-point deficit to advance to the title game, with Marshon Lattimore making a vital play to deny Nick Foles another playoff surge.

Los Angeles on the other hand were able to roll over the Dallas Cowboys. The scoreline was not overwhelmingly in the favour of the Rams, securing a 30-22 win, but they were able to dominate the line of scrimmage with both CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley surpassing the 100-yard mark.

Both teams are entering unfamiliar territory in the Championship Game. The Saints are playing in the contest for the first time in nine years, while Los Angeles have not experienced the title game since the 2001 season.

There is minimal Super Bowl experience on the two teams. Brees led the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV, while the Rams have Super Bowl winners in the form of Aqib Talib and Sam Shields in their days with the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers.

Whichever side holds their composure under the pressure will likely be the one that secures their spot in the ultimate showdown in Atlanta.

Will Brees rise to the occasion?

New Orleans Saints

The Saints proved their playoff mettle last week to knock out the reigning champions. Philadelphia put Sean Payton’s men under serious pressure in the early stages of the game. A mistake by Brees allowed the Eagles to strike and then score a second touchdown as Foles came out firing. The visitors were in position to take a three-touchdown lead, but Lattimore came up with a vital interception to get his team back on track.

A bold call by Payton on fourth down kept a drive alive before the Saints were able to find their rhythm, scoring 20 unanswered points. A missed field goal from Will Lutz kept the game alive, allowing the Eagles one final chance to steal the contest. However, Lattimore came to the fore again as Foles’ pass sailed through Alshon Jeffery’s hands, allowing the Saints cornerback to make the game-sealing interception.

Brees’ early mistake was concerning for the Saints as he had displayed vulnerabilities down the stretch. He ended the contest with two touchdowns to his name and looked in rhythm. Brees has to repeat his performance from earlier in the campaign when he put McVay’s men to the sword with a four-touchdown display.

Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara have been the heartbeat of the team. Thomas produced a special performance last week, notching 171 receiving yards. He will need another brilliant outing to match his quarterback, similar to that of his 211-yard outing against the Rams in week nine.

After their poor start the New Orleans’ defense tightened up, putting the clamps on the Eagles’ offense. However, it came at a cost as Sheldon Rankins was lost for the term with a torn Achilles.  The contest could come down to one defensive stop in a high-scoring contest in the Superdome.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams displayed signs that they learned from their experience in the post-season in the 2017 campaign. Los Angeles were able to run the ball and control the game against the Cowboys. Dallas did take an early lead after McVay’s men were forced to settle for a field goal. However, they were able to regain the initiative through the running ability of Anderson and Gurley.

Their offensive line had tailed off towards the end of the term. The week off for the bye seemed to do them the world of good, which allowed them to dominate Dallas, knocking them off the line of scrimmage. Anderson and Gurley feasted and racked up over 100 yards on the ground. Goff was able to use the running game, using play-action passes to fire the ball downfield. That system has been the key to the Rams’ success with McVay as their head coach and will be the key against New Orleans.

Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh were giants in the middle of the defensive line in the Divisional Round. Ezekiel Elliott was restricted to only 47 yards on the ground from 20 attempts, including a failed fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter. Donald led the NFL in sacks in the 2018 season, notching 19.5 quarterback takedowns.

Brees will like to dictate the game from the pocket, but if Donald can affect the veteran then it may be able to swing the contest in the favour of the Rams. Talib’s return in the secondary will be a huge help against Thomas downfield. Los Angeles can afford to shift double coverage towards Thomas and force Brees and company to beat them with their secondary targets. The tools are there for Los Angeles, but they have to execute on the road.

Head to Head

Games Played: 75 New Orleans Saints: 34 Los Angeles Rams: 41

The Saints and the Rams played out a thriller in their clash earlier in the season, although New Orleans were able to end McVay’s side’s unbeaten start to the term at the Superdome. The home side got off to a dominant start in the first half to take a 35-17 into the break.

However, Los Angeles issued a response to drag themselves back into the game, scoring 17 unanswered points. The counterpunch came back from the Saints through a Lutz field goal and a match-winning 72-yard score from Thomas. We can only hope to see a similar game this time around and it would not be surprising to see another 45-35 victory for the Saints.

Match Betting Options

The Saints were rocked by the Eagles in the first quarter of their contest, but were able to take the punch and respond. They cannot afford a similar start against Los Angeles, who will be desperate to play with a lead and unleash Donald on Brees throwing downfield.

New Orleans will have their plans in place and with Kamara should be able to expose the Rams’ linebackers in coverage, while Thomas’ duel with Talib promises to be a thriller. The home crowd played a role last week in getting the Saints back into the contest and will be a factor once again. Brees has not lost a playoff match at home – take the Saints to continue their impressive record with the veteran at odds of -165   with Bovada.

New Orleans won by 10 points in the last contest and this game could come down to a last minute drive from the Rams that is denied by the Saints. As a result, take the -6 Saints handicap at +140   with 888Sport. The total points’ line has been set at 56.5 by BetOnline, back the over at -110 . There will also be a defensive or special teams score in the contest at +175   at TopBet.

Player Betting Options

Anderson has been one of the surprise packages for the Rams late in the season. Due to Gurley’s knee injury he was required to fill a void. He has rushed for over 100 yards in all three of his games, scoring four touchdowns. Back him to score anytime on Sunday at odds of +125   with Bet365.

Anderson was just behind Sony Michel and Damien Williams for rushing yards in the Divisional Round. Without Rankins back him to have another big day instead of his team-mate Gurley for value at odds of +950 with Bovada to lead the Championship round in rushing yards.

Brees and the Saints will have to win the game on the arm of the quarterback. At home in his dome there are few better than the 39-year-old so back him to lead the Championship round in passing yards at +225   with Bovada. Thomas was on point last week so trust him again to for another huge performance at odds of +200   to lead the Championship weekend in receiving yards. Ben Watson could be playing the final game of his career – take him to find the endzone at odds of +300   with Betway anytime.

Tips Summary

New Orleans Saints To Beat Los Angeles Rams
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: -165

New Orleans Saints -6 Spread
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +140

Over 56.5 Total Points To Be Scored
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: -110

Defensive Or Special Teams Touchdown To Be Scored
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +175

CJ Anderson To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +125

CJ Anderson To Lead Championship Round In Rushing Yards
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +950

Ben Watson To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +300

Drew Brees To Lead Championship Round In Passing Yards
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +225

Michael Thomas To Lead Championship Round In Receiving Yards
Sunday 20th January 2019 15:05 ET (20:05 GMT)
Odds: +200