NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
Packers at Patriots will get all the attention on Sunday in Week 9, and that's fine because it's legends Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady facing off for just the second and probably last time. I get it.
However, by far the most important game on the schedule, and which certainly would have been flexed by NBC into the prime-time window just about any other week, is Rams at Saints. Just last week I proclaimed the Rams would probably get the NFC's top seed if they beat Green Bay in Week 8. They did, albeit barely. After watching that and then the Saints go to Minneapolis and beat the Vikings, well, the conference race is wide open. No question the winner here is in the driver's seat.
Again, though, you have to favor unbeaten L.A. when looking at remaining schedules. Even were the Rams to lose here, they are only down the tiebreaker to New Orleans, which already has a loss. The Rams should win next Sunday vs. Seattle and then could lose Week 11 vs. Kansas City in Mexico City, but I realistically see only two chances for L.A. to lose the rest of the way: Week 14 at Chicago and Week 15 vs. Philadelphia. The Rams get the chance to close the season with two sure things if they still care: at Arizona and vs. San Francisco.
The Saints literally don't have a free pass left as this is their remaining schedule: at Cincinnati (feels like a letdown loss), vs. Philadelphia, vs. Atlanta, at Dallas, at Tampa Bay, at Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh and vs. Carolina. So only two non-playoff contenders in the Bucs and Falcons, and those are still pretty good division rivals.
Rams at Saints Betting Story Lines
As I'm sure you can guess with the Rams halfway to joining the 1972 Dolphins and 2007 Patriots to a perfect regular season, the various books have put out a prop on whether the Rams do see 16-0. You generally will find a price of -1500 with no at +700. Obviously, I wouldn't recommend the yes as it's just too tough - I do think Sean McVay is arrogant enough (in a good way, because he's a freaking offensive wizard), though, to try for it if it's there near the end and not rest his guys.
L.A. did look quite vulnerable last week -- don't even get me started on how Todd Gurley screwed me over about three different ways at the end -- as Green Bay's defense slowed that high-powered offense for quite a while, and the Packers chewed clock by running the ball well behind Aaron Jones. The Saints have perhaps the best tailback duo in the NFL in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. I don't think Drew Brees will be the one to win this game but those two.
Brees didn't win last week's, either throwing for just 120 yards with a TD and a pick in the 30-20 win at Minnesota. The Saints rushed for 106 yards and also turned two turnovers into immediate or nearly immediate touchdowns. New Orleans was actually outgained 423-270.
The Rams are completely all-in for the Super Bowl this year with all their offseason moves and with the way their salary cap is structured. They reinforced that on Tuesday by trading for Jacksonville end/linebacker Dexter Fowler, the former No. 3 overall pick out of Florida. Because all the Rams need is someone up front WITH Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Has Fowler lived up to the billing? No, and the Jags already had declined his fifth-year rookie option, but the talent is there if he can stay healthy and out of trouble off the field. He's potentially a huge pass-rush upgrade over the likes of Samson Ebukam, Matt Longacre and John Franklin-Myers. I don't really know what pass-rush win rate means, but the Rams already led the NFL in that. Fowler ranks 13th among DE/OLB with a 31% PRWR. L.A. gave up a third-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-rounder in 2020. That's a lot for a pending free agent with all that baggage - but, again, the talent is there.
Rams at Saints Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New Orleans is a 1-point favorite (-120) with a total of 60. On the moneyline, the Saints are -130 and Rams +110. On the alternate lines, New Orleans is -1.5 (-115) and -2 (-110). The Rams are 4-4 against the spread (2-2 on road) and 3-5 "over/under" (1-3 on road). The Saints are 5-2 ATS (1-2 at home) and 3-4 O/U (2-1 at home).
The Rams are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. the NFC. The Saints are 24-5 ATS in their past 29 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. They are 4-0 ATS in their previous four vs. the NFC. The under is 8-2 in the Rams' past 10 in November. The over is 6-2 in the Saints' past eight vs. the NFC. The home team has covered the past six in the series.
Rams at Saints Betting Prediction
These teams played Week 12 last year in L.A. and the Rams won 26-20. Jared Goff passed for 345 yards and two scores. The Saints did what they need to for this Sunday, though, rushing for 123 yards. Are the Rams the better overall team? Probably. I'd take them at home or a neutral site. But not in that loud dome - it's the Rams' first dome game of the year, and that is relevant. Go Saints at -1 and under the first 60 total of the year.
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