Saints vs Rams

Saints vs Rams : The New Orleans Saints (13-3) are one win away from a Super Bowl berth. They’ll have to beat a talent Los Angeles Rams team Sunday (Jan. 20) at 2:05 p.m. in the NFC Championship Game if they plan to make it to Atlanta. 

The Saints bounced back from a slow start to earn a 20-14 victory over the Eagles in the NFC Divisional round. The Rams are coming off of a 30-22 win against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional round.

Jeff Duncan, Columnist

Saints 33, Rams 20: The Saints have pointed to this game since they walked off the field at U.S. Bank Stadium a year ago. This was their goal when they broke camp in September. They have been the best, most complete team in the NFL all season and they will prove it on Sunday. The Rams aren’t ready for the chaos that awaits them. 

X-factor: Alvin Kamara. With all due respect to Todd Gurley, Kamara was the best running back on the field when the Saints beat the Rams in Week 9. He scored three touchdowns and averaged a 5-yard gain every time he touched the ball. The Rams had no one who could defend him then and they won’t have anyone that can stop him on Sunday.

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Bold prediction: Kamara will break multiple tackles and score the momentum-turning touchdown on a screen pass in the third quarter.

Record: 12-4 overall, 10-6 vs. spread

Postseason record: 1-0 overall, 1-0 vs. spread

Josh Katzenstein, Saints writer

Saints 34, Rams 27: If the Saints follow their historical trend, they’ll start slow, but that doesn’t spell doom. I think we could see a back-and-forth game, but I don’t expect it to be as high scoring as the first matchup. Both teams will try to establish the run, and I have more faith in the Saints to get theirs going, though that would change if the Saints struggle to block Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

X-factor: Vonn Bell should play a key role for the Saints on Sunday. If he’s at the top of his game, the Saints should be able to limit the Rams rushing attack, and he could have some opportunities to pressure Jared Goff, too.

Bold prediction: Michael Thomas will exceed 150 receiving yards again as he finds openings in the Rams zone and continues his postseason tear.

Record: 12-4 overall, 7-9 vs. spread

Postseason record: 1-0 overall, 0-1 vs. spread

NFL Conference Campionship

Luke Johnson, Saints writer

Saints 31, Rams 30: Honestly, the way this season played out, did you expect to see any other teams than these two playing for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? The Saints and Rams got together for a classic in the Superdome earlier this season, and with so much on the line, I expect another exciting game. The Rams should be a tougher out this time, considering their rejuvenated rushing attack and the presence of Pro Bowl corner Aqib Talib, but these Saints have risen to the occasion so many times this season it is hard to see them folding in the biggest moment. Wil Lutz recreates some 2009 magic with a game-winner at the buzzer.

X-factor: The Rams do everything in their power to keep Michael Thomas in check, and forget that Ted Ginn Jr. can also beat Marcus Peters deep. I think the veteran wideout will have a big game Sunday.

Bold prediction: Both the Rams and Saints call a fake punt, and both are successful.

Record: 12-4 overall, 9-7 vs. spread

Postseason record: 1-0 overall, 0-1 vs. spread

Amos Morale III, Sports writer

Saints vs Rams : NFC Campionship

Saints 24, Rams 23: The players understand what’s at stake. The Saints are 60 minutes from a Super Bowl appearance and expect them to play like it. Starting faster was a focus this week so expect to see a fired up defense and an even more pumped up offense as they build an early but small lead. The Rams won’t make it easy. But expect the Saints to be able to hold off one of the league’s most talented rosters and earn a trip to Atlanta.  

X-factor: Tyeler Davison, Taylor Stallworth, David Onyemata. The Saints held the Rams to 92 yards rushing in the Week 9 matchup. That was with Sheldon Rankins in the rotation. This unit will have to step up in order limit a rushing attack that now not only features Todd Gurley but also CJ Anderson, who rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend’s divisional win against the Dallas Cowboys.

Bold prediction: Drew Brees connects with Taysom Hill on a pass over 30 yards. The Saints tried to hit “The Mormon Missile” in the end zone during last week’s win against the Eagles, but defensive back Avonte Maddox was able to break up the pass. New Orleans will get Hill double-digit receiving yards on a single play this week.

Record: 12-4 overall, 11-5 vs. spread

Postseason record: 1-0 overall, 1-0 vs. spread

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