NFC Championship: Saints, Rams aim to keep high-flying ways ailve



Jan. 19 (UPI) — It’s been nearly 20 years since the Los Angeles Rams were in this position, and precisely 30 years since they were in this position while calling LA home.

What position is that?

Try one game away from the Super Bowl, as they visit the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the NFC Championship game. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. EST. 

The Saints finished with the top seed, and it truly came via a win over the Rams in Week 9.

But not much has separated these teams all season, in terms of style and competitiveness, and that isn’t likely about to suddenly change now.

Both feature balanced and high-scoring offenses capable of putting up bundles of points in the blink of an eye. The Rams ranked second in the NFL at 32.9 points per game. And the Saints averaged 31.5 points for third. The Rams were third in rushing offense; the Saints sixth.

You also likely know the names in this one by now.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw four touchdowns and racked up 364 yards passing in the team’s first meeting. And by now, everyone knows the Rams’ Jared Goff isn’t too shabby himself.

But you don’t pump up so many points through the air alone. Both teams boast elite offensive lines that clear paths for running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram of the Saints, and Todd Gurley and the reborn C.J. Anderson of the Rams.

Defensively, though, the Saints clearly had an advantage — at least during the regular season. They were 14th in total defense, including second overall against the run. The Rams were near the bottom in most categories — 19th in total defense, 20th in points scoring and No. 23 vs. the run.

But after taking all this into account, Vegas still only has the Saints favored by three points. That’s not saying anything, really, as every team that plays at home receives a customary three points.

So everyone is viewing this about as even as you can get. And it just might be.

PREDICTION: Saints, 37-34.



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