Free NFL Playoff Picks: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
I'm happy to eat crow here at Doc's with my predictions at times, but I killed it last week! Not only did I project Matt Kuchar to win the PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii but hit on the side and total in both NFC Divisional Round games: Cowboys-Rams and Eagles-Saints.
We recommended taking L.A. down to -6.5 and the over 49.5, and second-seeded Los Angeles prevailed 30-22 to reach the NFC Championship Game for the first time since following the 2001 season when Kurt Warner's St. Louis Rams beat the Eagles before losing the Super Bowl to New England.
In Eagles-Saints, we went with Philadelphia +7.5 and under 50.5, and top-seeded New Orleans won 20-14 to reach the NFC title game for the second time in franchise history. The 2009 team also hosted it and beat the Vikings in overtime before taking out Peyton Manning's Colts in the Super Bowl. It's only the second playoff meeting between these franchises, with New Orleans beating visiting St. Louis in the Wild Card game following the 2000 season.
At 5Dimes , the Saints are +183 Super Bowl favorites with the Rams as +390 long shots. Interestingly, the site has the Saints at -1 against both the Patriots and Chiefs, while having the Rams at that same number vs. Kansas City but -1.5 vs. New England. Obviously, those lines could change depending on what happens Sunday and with injuries.
Rams at Saints Betting Story Lines
Every team in the NFL wants the next Sean McVay - have you seen which coaches have been hired (or will be)? - because McVay is supposed to be this offensive new-age genius. Yet, he went all old school on the Cowboys last week by continually feeding his two-headed monster at tailback of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. The Rams trashed Dallas for 273 yards rushing, a franchise playoff record for the Rams and most ever allowed by the Cowboys in the postseason.
That Gurley is good isn't a surprise and he finished 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Anderson, though, was signed off the street when Gurley missed the final two regular-season games, and the former Bronco has looked like Earl Campbell. Anderson totaled 299 yards and two scores combined in the final two regular-season games and then had 123 and two scores on 23 carries vs. Dallas. C.J. Anderson got more carries than Todd Gurley!?! McVay seemed to hint that was more to ensure Gurley didn't get injured again, but stunning. The Rams held the ball for more than 36 minutes; about the only bad thing was we still don't really know if Jared Goff is a playoff QB because he was asked to do so little vs. Dallas.
New Orleans ranked No. 2 in the NFL during the regular season vs. the run, but one key part of that was defensive tackle and 2016 first-round pick Sheldon Rankins. He suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the win over the Eagles that certainly puts his 2019 campaign in jeopardy. That's a big loss - Rankins also did his job vs. the pass with eight sacks.
I don't take much from the Saints falling behind 14-0 vs. the Eagles as we told you New Orleans might be rusty with none of the team's starters playing a game that mattered since Week 16. The Eagles had been 12-0 all-time in the playoffs with a lead of 14 at any point of a game previously. That game changed when Sean Payton called for a fake punt from his own own 30-yard line in the second quarter when the Saints were trailing 14-0. Third-string QB Taysom Hill converted. He'll get a few trick-play looks vs. the Rams, mark my words. Payton loves that guy.
The Rams and Saints played a very entertaining Week 9 game in the Superdome, with New Orleans winning 45-35 - which turned out to be the tiebreaker for the top seed. There was nearly 1,000 yards of offense that day. The Saints had Rankins then but not WR Ted Ginn. The Rams had WR Cooper Kupp then (out for season) but not top cornerback Aqib Talib.
Rams at Saints Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, New Orleans is a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 57. On the moneyline, the Saints are -190 and Rams +165. Some alternate lines: Saints -7 (+150), -7.5 (+168), -3 (-135) and -2.5 (-160). Rams -2 (+190). Los Angeles is 8-8-1 against the spread this season (4-4 on road) and 9-8 "over/under" (2-6 on road). New Orleans is 10-7 ATS (4-5 at home) and 7-10 O/U (5-4 at home).
The Rams are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in January. They are 1-4-1 ATS in their previous five vs. teams with a winning record. The Saints are 25-7 ATS in their past 32 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. They are 0-4 ATS in their past four after a win. The under is 5-1 in the Rams' past six on the road. It's 6-1 in the Saints' past seven vs. the NFC. The home team has covered the past seven in the series.
Rams at Saints Betting Prediction
If this were in Los Angeles, I would take the Rams but can't go against the Saints in that madhouse Superdome. They are 6-0 there all-time under Brees/Payton in the playoffs. It's probably the best indoor home-field advantage in the NFL. Go Saints at -2.5 and under the total.
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