Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Free NFL Picks: Rams and Over
Best Lines Offered: GT Bets
With this being a rematch, it would be simple just to regurgitate the same thing that happened 10 weeks ago with the game in the same location and move on. In the NFL, however, 10 weeks is a long time. Just ask Pittsburgh and Minnesota, who would have been considered locks to make the playoffs back then.
No question Los Angeles and New Orleans looked like the best two squads in the NFC at that time and having reached this point they still are. Yet, each team is different from that last game and that will play directly into the outcome.
After a late surge win and cover against Detroit, followed by losses to Chicago and Philadelphia, Rams coach Sean McVay realized his defense was not good enough to be in shootouts every week and the loss of receiver Cooper Kupp mattered to the passing game. In winning and covering three straight, the Rams have rushed the ball at least 40 times in each victory. New Orleans’ No. 2 run defense will present a challenge, but if L.A. can move the chains running, they can win this confrontation.
New Orleans was a high-flying scoring machine 10 weeks ago, but with no real receiver threat outside of Michael Thomas and the offensive line becoming battered at Thanksgiving, the Saints have averaged 19.1 points in their last six outings.
The NFL odds board has New Orleans at -3.5 with a total of 56.5. For the right to go the Super Bowl from this side of the bracket, let’s take the Rams, who have taken a more aggressive defensive approach, still having an offense that can score and who is 13-3 SU on the road since last year.
Though the “under” is very tempting, I’ll say the “over” squeaks by, with both secondaries vulnerable.
Final score prediction: Rams 36, Saints 31
Rams-Saints Teasers And First-Half Wagering
This is what a 6-point teaser on the side and total would look like for this contest:
Side Teaser: Los Angeles +9.5 or New Orleans +2.5
Totals Teaser: Over 50.5 or Under 62.5
Because I prefer to have the odds in my favor whenever possible for teaser picks, I’ll take Los Angeles at +9.5. Besides the ability to buy a little insurance if I needed it, this pushes the Rams past key numbers such as 6 and 7, increasing my value.
On the total, look for both offenses to put together enough points for “over” 50.5 play. The angle of note in this teaser is this: Rams (including before moving to L.A. from St. Louis) are 39-5 “over” the teaser total after three or more spread winners.
The most significant element for first-half betting is this: Play “under” on teams such as the Rams in a game involving two defensive squads permitting 335 to 370 YPG, after gaining 400 or more total yards in three straight contests. (36-11 record)
Rams-Saints Side Prop Bets
Rams vs. Saints – First Score of the Game (Method): These are two potent offenses that at any time can score from distance. Though the -200 for the touchdown is pricey for NFL picks, I think it’s the right call.
Rams – Total Points O/U 26.5: Look for Los Angeles to blow by this with relative ease.
Conference Championships – Top Passer: Because I have the Rams winning and likely leading late, I’ll take Saints QB Drew Brees (+250) over Patrick Mahomes, figuring the weather conditions will suppress the Chiefs quarterback’s numbers.
Rams vs. Saints: First Team to Score 20 or more points: This is where Los Angeles grabs the advantage and holds on for the win. Take the +135.
Who Will Score The Most Points In The Conference Championship Round? I’m sticking to my guns and going with the third choice, the Rams at +325.