Rams Or Saints - Who Do Ya Love? Experts Tell Us What They Think!

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Rams Or Saints - Who Do Ya Love? Experts Tell Us What They Think!

Los Angeles Rams (14-3 SU, 8-7-2 ATS) vs. New Orleans (14-3 SU, 10-7 ATS)

Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

Line: Saints -3

Over/Under: 56½

The Rams dropped the regular season contest against the Saints in the Superdome by the score of 45-35 but now this one is for all the NFC marbles where much has changed since that early November clash except the venue. Drew Brees is a legend while Jared Goff is trying to prove he’ll be one. The Saints have been here before under Brees but the Rams are in uncharted territory since returning to Los Angeles. These are two high-octane offenses with elite passers pulling the trigger and more weapons at their disposal than a gun show at Fort Bragg.

The NFL odds board is reflecting the Saints as three-point favorites due to their home field advantage in this one but there are some who believe the oddsmakers have the wrong favorite and that Jared and the Juggernauts will prevail. However, based on the report by NFL Pick Watch, there is a landslide of support for the Saints to win the game as 82 percent of those polled back New Orleans. Without further ado, let’s read below to find out what the talking heads are saying about this matchup and who they believe should be included in your NFL picks this Sunday!

Ravin’ About the Rams

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: “The Saints offense wasn’t as good down the stretch as it was when they met the first time. The offense also seemed to struggle to get into a groove last week against the Eagles. The Los Angeles defense has some issues as well, which is why running the ball will be key for the Rams to help keep Brees planted on the bench.’

Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report: “They’re gaining momentum with that one-two punch in the offensive backfield, and that running game now won’t have to deal with the injured Rankins. Throw in the return of Talib, and I think the Rams can pull this off against a team that is lucky just to be here based on its performance against Philly.”

The New York Times: “In what should be a fantastic game between evenly matched teams, the deciding factor could be which overmatched secondary performs better. There will be a lot of yardage regardless, but if Talib can limit Thomas, the opportunity is there for the Rams to come away with a road upset and their first trip to the Super Bowl since the 2001 season.”

Tevin Broner, “The first time these two played, the game was closer than the final score indicated. With the Rams new wrinkle in the running game and with Aqib Talib back on the field, the Rams should be able to pull this out – although it is hard to bet against Brees. Prediction: Rams, 28-24”

Derek Ciapala, “The Rams have weapons at every skill position on offense. They run two-deep at running back and three-deep at wide receiver. Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have also made critical plays throughout the season. Los Angeles simply has more firepower than New Orleans. If the Rams can protect Goff, they will beat the Saints. The Rams did well against the crowd-noise in the first game, and we can all be sure that the team will be ready to deal with it again on Sunday. I’m saying it now. The Los Angeles Rams will beat the Saints and go to their first Super Bowl since the 1999 season.”

Lindsey Thiry, ESPN: “The loss earlier this season lingers, but this is not the same Rams team that visited the Superdome in November. The Rams now feature a 1-2 punch in Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, who combined for 238 rushing yards in the divisional-round win, and their defensive front is finally playing up to expectations, thanks in large part to Ndamukong Suh raising his level of play. Plus, Talib — who was on injured reserve in Week 9 — is back in the secondary and will surely play a part in slowing down Thomas. Prediction: Rams 32, Saints 30”

Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay: “Yeah, the dome can be an imposing place for visiting teams, especially with Drew Brees engineering the Saints’ offense. Good thing for the Rams, then, that their revived running game, featuring both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, travels well. Rams 31, Saints 28”

Singin’ Saints Praises

Don Banks, The Athletic (formerly of Sports Illustrated): “The Saints absolutely can’t afford the same slow start they had at home against the Eagles last week, because Los Angeles has more firepower and McVay will keep the pedal to the metal if his Rams build an early lead. New Orleans’ stout defense is the key factor in how this game turns out, and if the Saints win the turnover battle, they should be able to pack for the short jaunt to Atlanta and invade the team complex and home stadium of their NFC South arch-rivals, the Falcons. That’s when the real party will start in the Big Easy.”

ESPN’s Football Power Index: “ESPN’s FPI gives the Saints a 63 percent chance: “Expect offensive fireworks with the No. 2 (Rams) and No. 3 (Saints) offenses in terms of efficiency this season. Though the Rams did rank sixth in defensive efficiency on the road, it will be a tough task against the Saints, who ranked second in offensive efficiency at home (85.0), led by Brees’ league-leading 89.7 Total QBR in home games this season.’

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: “Offense has been the calling card for both the Saints and the Rams, but this game will come down to which team can play better defense. Los Angeles faces a much tougher run defense in New Orleans than the one it saw against, while the Saints get a much more favorable matchup for Kamara and Ingram. … Los Angeles and New Orleans match each other for the most part on offense and special teams, but give Brees the edge over Goff at QB, and the Saints will play better situational defense. The Superdome crowd also will provide a big boost as the Saints march on to that other Mercedes-Benz venue in Atlanta. Pick: Saints, 38-30”

Jon Machota, SportsDay: “Drew Brees completed over 76 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns, only one interception and a 133.3 passer rating at home this season. Jared Goff on the road this season: 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 82.7 passer rating. Saints 27, Rams 21”

Ryan Dunleavy, “Drew Brees vs Tom Brady in the Super Bowl is the matchup we never knew we always wanted. Just like Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs, young Rams QB Jared Goff is a star. He just has to wait his turn. It’s not this year. Saints 31, Rams 24.”

David Moore, SportsDay: “New Orleans beat LA in a shootout earlier this season. Will the Rams try to slow the pace this time around and hammer the Saints on the ground the way they did Dallas in the divisional round? Can the Rams defense do a better job against receiver Michael Thomas? Saints 30, Rams 27”

Zack Rosenblatt, “The Saints were sloppy in their 20-14 win over the Eagles last week, but they remain the most talented team left in the playoffs and, to my eyes, the favorite to win the whole thing. The Rams still feel like they’re not quite ready for this big stage, especially with a wildly inconsistent secondary. Drew Brees could pick them apart. The last time these two teams faced off, it was a doozy. The Saints win it again. Saints 38, Rams 31.”

Mike Triplett, ESPN: “Expect a bigger impact from both defenses in this rematch. The Saints won’t be able to exploit the Thomas-Peters matchup as much now that Talib is healthy, and it’s hard to imagine they can hold Aaron Donald & Co. without a sack again, especially with their offensive line a little banged up. But New Orleans’ defense also has been playing some big-time football down the stretch. Since that Week 9 win, the Saints’ defense has allowed just five points per game after halftime. Saints 27, Rams 26”

Tadd Haislop, Sporting News: “… But the running game, ironically, is where LA’s advantages run out. If New Orleans’ offensive line can manage Donald and get to the second level, its running backs can and will run all over the Los Angeles defense. Even after their slow start in the divisional round, the Saints knew Kamara and Ingram could not be stopped. The same should apply in the conference championship game. A game like this is exactly why the Saints padded their defense in the offseason – see Demario Davis and Marcus Davenport. And if it comes down to the last few possessions, when the QBs typically decide the game, we all know which team has the advantage. Pick: Saints, 31-24”

David Kaplan, Sportsbook Review: “So who wins this game? I truly think this is an extremely close matchup that could come down to who scores last. While I love Sean Payton and the Saints, I believe that McVay is also an elite coach and that he will one day win the Super Bowl. But on Sunday in New Orleans, I see the Saints doing enough to advance back to the big game and to answer this question: Who Dat say they’re gonna beat them Saints? The answer is: not the Rams. Play this game on the money line. Saints are between -160 & -170.”

Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay: “The Saints weathered a scare from the Eagles last week in the Superdome, which should scare them straight. I’ll take Drew Brees over Jared Goff. Little more nervous about taking Sean Payton over Sean McVay. Saints 31, Rams 27”

Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay: “Saints coaches have a week to figure out a running attack the Cowboys didn’t come close to solving last week. Don’t expect Gurley and Anderson to have that kind of game while Drew Brees spreads the ball around and the Saints are the ball control team this week. Saints 26, Rams 20”

Jon Price (Professional Sports Handicapper via Forbes): “There will be no shortage of excitement when the Rams and Saints go toe-to-toe in the NFC Championship, as these are two of the league’s best offenses. There’s no love lost here either, as these teams keep matching up during the regular season as well. The Saints have won both regular season matchups held at the Superdome over the last three years and haven’t lost to the Rams at the site since the team was based in St. Louis back in 2007. Factor in that New Orleans is 6-0 at home in the playoffs since Sean Payton and Drew Brees came to town back in 2006 and you are looking at a tough squad to oust this time of year. Brees is especially strong in the playoffs-having averaged 322 yards in 14 career games and boasting a TD:INT ratio better than 3:1 in those contests-and should be a force again on Sunday. Don’t sleep on the Saints, as they are the better team and already proved they can win big against the Rams. Lay the points and watch as New Orleans gets back to the Super Bowl with a convincing victory in the NFC Championship, with the team utilizing its elite ground attack, passing game and rush defense to win by nearly a touchdown.’ Pick: Saints -3/Prediction: Saints 33 – Rams 27”