Los Angeles Rams (8-8-1 O/V) at New Orleans (7-10 O/U)
Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
Free NFL Picks: Under
Best Lines: Heritage
Sportsbooks setting the NFL odds on the total on the NFC title tilt kept it in line with the last matchup. In the previous contest in the New Orleans between the Rams and Saints the total closed at 56 and this time it opened at 57.
An initial thought would be, geez, that seems like a high total for an NFC championship game and you would be right, as currently it is the second-highest total since 2001. But how quickly we forget, just two years ago with the Green Bay at Atlanta contest was 60.5 with the Falcons blowing out the Packers 44-21 for an OVER winner.
What might this contest hold?
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2019
Strictly By The Numbers
Los Angeles and New Orleans were the Top 2 scoring teams in the NFC during the regular season and finished No. 2 and No.3 respectively in the NFL.
The Rams on the road average 28.7 PPG on the road, which was 3rd in the league this season. Yet for some reason, even after the 45 they surrendered to New Orleans, Sean McVay’s defense only gave up 19.9 PPG away from home which was 6th overall. What changed for Rams?
Generally, either home-standing defenses were committed to stopping Jared Goff from heaving long passes down the field and McVay realized that. In turn, there was more of a commit to run the ball throughout game and Goff’s job was to keep the chains moving, either by the run or shorter passes. This led to L.A. being 6-2 UNDER away from Tinsel Town.
In what was formally known as the “Superdome”, New Orleans with Drew Brees and Sean Payton have always liked to play aggressive and fast. During the regular season, the Saints were 2nd in the NFL in home scoring at over 34 PPG. On defense, if you use their Week 17 home game against Carolina that they did not care about and last Sunday’s playoff offense versus Philadelphia they cared very much about, New Orleans has permitted 24.3 PPG at home. The Saints are 5-4 OVER at the Dome.
So What Is It, Over or Under?
If you like the Brees and the Saints to go to the Super Bowl, the OVER makes sense, because they have 100% confidence that if Los Angeles would score 51, they would score 52 points.
But let’s consider the coaches, as just talked about. Payton would love another shootout because the track and the team he has can pull it off. However, McVay did not become the youngest ever head coach to win a playoff game just because he likes to push the envelope.
Putting aside your ego is what the smartest of coaches do and having already lost in high-scoring should be warning for McVay. Instead, make the game about running the ball even against New Orleans vaunted run defense. If L.A. can run the ball 30 times, even without a large number of yards, that means Brees is wearing team hat, not a helmet. And it should be noted the Saints are 0-3 when allowing 30 or more rush attempts and that would likely keep scoring suppressed.
Also, since losing to Dallas 13-10, in games started by Brees including that one, New Orleans has only averaged 20.6 PPG. Though the numbers are not overwhelming, the Saints are 4-3 UNDER at home when the total is 50 or higher and Los Angeles is 3-2 UNDER in away games with the same total. Look at the UNDER 57 for NFL picks.
Doug’s Playoff Totals Record: 4-4