Saints vs Rams: The Conference Champion The Rams will take on the Saints on Sunday,the NFC Championship game Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET January 20 at the
Rams vs. Saints odds, pick: Key matchups, how to watch, stream NFC Championship Game Much like its AFC counterpart, the NFC Championship Game set to take place this Sunday is a rematch of a game that was played earlier this season. The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams met way back in Week 9, with the Saints prevailing by a score of 45-35 to hand L.A. its first loss of the season.
Unlike the AFC title game, the NFC rematch will be taking place in the same location: the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. That means this game will be unaffected by any weather concerns, and could turn into yet another track meet between two of the highest-scoring teams in football.
Even if that track meet doesn’t break out again, the game is sure to be entertaining. There are stars everywhere on the field in this one, with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara and Jared Goff and Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods and Aaron Donald and Cameron Jordan and Ndamukong Suh and Marshon Lattimore and Aqib Talib and … C.J. Anderson, suddenly. And more.
Throw in two of the most creative offensive minds in football in Sean Payton and Sean McVay, one of the best defensive coordinators ever in Wade Phillips, a strong defensive mind in his own right in Dennis Allen, who has turned the Saints’ defense around over the past two years, and you’ve got the recipe for a wildly entertaining football game that as an added bonus gets to decide which team will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Here’s what you should be watching out for when the two teams take the field on Sunday afternoon. You can stream the game on fuboTV (Try for free) or watch on Fox at 3:05 p.m. ET.
Saints run defense vs. Rams RBs and dominant O-Line
Last week in the divisional round, the Rams lined up against one of the best run defenses in football and absolutely pulverized them. The Dallas Cowboys finished the regular season with the league’s fifth-best run defense, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and were coming off a game where they had held Seahawks running backs to 59 yards on 21 carries.
By the end of the first half, two different Rams running backs (Gurley and Anderson) had more than 59 yards rushing, and by the end of the game, they each damn near doubled that total on their own. Gurley, in his first game back from a multi-week injury, rushed 16 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. Anderson, splitting carries with Gurley for the first time since being signed off the street and thrust into the lead back role, powered through the Dallas defense for 123 yards and two scores on 23 carries. It was an absolutely dominant performance from both backs, but it was powered by an offensive line that cleared the way for them to average 2.54 yards per carry before contact, a far cry from the 0.90 per carry the Seahawks had averaged the week before.
Rams offensive linemen insisted this week that they knew which stunts the Cowboys were running on 90-plus percent of their plays based on alignment and other tells, but, well, they still had to make the right blocks. And boy, did they ever. Though the Cowboys had a fantastic run defense, the fact that the Rams were able to plow through them on the ground should perhaps not have been a surprise. After all, L.A. had one of the best run-blocking units in the NFL during the regular season. The Rams finished first in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards, which assigns credit in the run game to the offensive line based on a percentage of yards gained per carry. They also had the second-lowest percentage of their runs stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage, at just 14.6 percent.