NFL

Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints NFC Championship Game Pick

Sunday, January 20 at 3:05 PM ET

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

53°F

Mostly cloudy, a chance of rain; cooler

Winds from the NNW 16 mph

Gusts: 22 mph

Coverage: FOX

The Los Angeles Rams clash with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon.

The Rams dominated the Cowboys 30-22 on Saturday night in the divisional round and the Saints were able to escape the Eagles with a 20-14 home win.

The Saints looked pretty terrible early on against the Eagles, giving up a pair of early touchdown drives but they settled down and didn't let them score again. One big concern was that Drew Brees looked a little shaky, he missed on two easy deep touchdown balls and had some wobbly throws.

Luckily for them Michael Thomas had a solid game with 12 receptions for 171 yards and one touchdown but the Rams have talented cornerbacks and the Thomas vs. Aqib Talib matchup could be spicy. Talib, a veteran that already has a Super Bowl ring, wasn't on the field on November 4, when Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Now Talib is back in the flow of Wade Phillips’ defense and his veteran presence and impact on the secondary’s communication will be a big difference.

Ahead of last Saturday's game, the Rams heard so much about their poor run defense that allowed an NFL-worst 5.1 yards per carry in the regular season, with rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott ready to take advantage of this but they handled Elliott on Saturday night as he ran for just 47 yards on 20 carries (2.4 yards per carry).

While finishing off the Cowboys, the Rams rolled with another dimension, a 1-2 backfield combination. Todd Gurley is still arguably the best running back in the league, but as he missed the final two regular season due to knee inflammation, veteran castoff C.J. Anderson took advantage of the opportunity.

With Anderson and Gurley leading the way, running for 123 and 115 yards respectively, the Rams set a playoff record with 273 rushing yards against the Cowboys.

The Saints have their own backfield tandem with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram but the Rams didn't have this in the first meeting in New Orleans and now Anderson has a streak of three 100-yard games to complement Gurley ahead of the ultimate test against a Saints defense that ranked No. 2 against the run, allowing 80.2 yards per game.

This game can be decided on 4th-downs. Last Sunday the Saints found momentum when Sean Payton called for a fake punt, then capped their first touchdown drive with Brees throwing on another 4th-down from the 2.

On Saturday, Sean McVay dismissed a chip-shot field goal attempt that would have made it a two-possession game in the fourth quarter and had Anderson ram it in from the 1, all of that after his defense stuffed Ezekiel Elliott on a 4th-and-1. When these two teams met in Week 9, Sean Payton was 2-for-2 on 4th-down calls, while Sean McVay was 0-for-2. Look for a close game that should produce some fireworks.

NFL Trends:

The Los Angeles Rams are:

3-1-1 ATS in their last five games following a straight up win

The New Orleans Saints are:

1-4 ATS in their last five games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game

1-4 ATS in their last five games against NFC opponents

0-4 ATS in their last four games following a straight up win

0-4 ATS in their last four games overall

0-4 ATS in their last four games on fieldturf

NFL Pick: Rams +3 (+105)

Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON

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