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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 12:00 AM

 

 

THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME –

IT’S RAMS VS. SAINTS

SUNDAY AFTERNOON SHOWDOWN

IN THE CRESCENT CITY

 

Will the real Los Angeles Rams and the real New Orleans Saints please stand up here on NFL Championship Game Sunday?

The Rams – who started this here-and-now season on a three-game SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) winning streak and who enter Sunday’s game inside the Louisiana Superdome on a three-game SU /ATS winning streak – have endured some turbulence along the way as they went 2-7-2 vig-wise during an 11-game stretch between Sept. 27th thru Dec.16th.

The Saints?

They staggered early and late in ’18 but rock-n-rolled their way to a nine-game ATS winning streak between Week 3 and Week 12 and this NFC South crew blew to bits a batch a teams – see the 37-point win at Cincinnati and the 41-point home win against Philadelphia – but lately this magical offense has stammered plenty with only one of the team’s last six outings producing a 31-point-or-better output.

The guys/gals in Las Vegas have the Saints favored by 3.5 points here – with a totals price up a tad to 57 points – but what are we all really to expect here?

Ahh, the Jim Sez preview awaits but first this key reminder:

 

Now hear this …

Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to pile up the profits this Sunday with the NFC and AFC Championship games from Kansas City and New Orleans – get the Sides & Totals winners when you call us on game day at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here. And remember to cash in big with NBA and NCAA basketball plays each and every day of the week!

 

On Sunday, it’s …

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME –

LOS ANGELES RAMS (14-3) at NEW ORLEANS (14-3) – 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox

It’s safe to say we all got a little “taste” of what the Rams and Saints want to do here in this winner-goes-to-Super Bowl LIII in last weekend’s divisional round games:

Note that 31-year-old Sean McVay – the Rams’ second-year boss – dialed back the offensive theatrics and played bully-ball with RBs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson powering their way for a franchise playoff-record 273 yards rushing with three TDs. McVay didn’t heap a whole lotta pressure on QB Jared Goff (just 186 yards passing against Dallas in that 30-22 win/cover) and he figures to get Gurley/Anderson 35-plus rushes here especially with the Saints now minus star D-lineman Sheldon Rankins. Expect Goff to try and hit TE Tyler Higbee a whole lot here ‘cause the New Orleans defense tends to leave the middle of the field open while giving help deep.

On the proverbial flip side, the Saints’ come-from-behind 20-14 non-cover win against 9-point pup Philly last week was loaded with slant pattern passes from QB Drew Brees (301 yards passing with 2 TDs versus the Eagles) to WR Michael Thomas (12 catches for 171 yards and 1 TD) who was targeted an amazing 16 times in all. Okay, so you say the Rams will “take away” those slant throws by zoning up in the middle of the field, so that leads us to believe Brees will look that way and then try his hand with some deep chucks to WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (remember that Brees INT looking for Ginn on the first play from scrimmage last Sunday?) plus dunking down to RB Alvin Kamara (20 touches last week) will be a major part of the game plan. Will the Rans LBs be able to tackle in space? That’s a real key here or else Kamara’s gonna move the chains and keep those rhythmic Saints’ drives rolling.

One final X factor: How will McVay and Saints’ boss Sean Payton feel about long field goals (50-plus yards)? Bottom line is we think both coaches will gamble and go for first down on fourth-and-shorts just inside midfield – remember, miss the long FGs and it’s a short field the other way and that almost cost the Saints late last week. Gut feeling is these teams will go on fourth down at least a handful of times between ‘em here.

Spread Notes – Here’s a pointspread factoid that’ll knock you over: The home teams are a collective 7-and-oh ATS since 2009 in head-to-head matchups between the Rams and Saints and that, of course, includes the Week 8 game earlier this year when the 2-point home underdog Saints bested the LA Rams 45-35. Note that the Saints are a collective 19-21-1 against the odds at home the past five years while the Rams are an almost exact 19-21-2 ATS away the past five seasons … wow!

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

WEEK #          OPP                        SPREAD          RESULT

1                      at Oakland            - 6.5                W 33-13

2                      ARIZONA               - 12                 W 34-0

3                      LA CHARGERS       - 7                   W 35-23

4                      MINNESOTA         - 7                   T 38-31

5                      at Seattle               - 7.5                L 33-31

6                      at Denver              - 7                   L 23-20

7                      at San Francisco   - 9                   W 39-10

8                      GREEN BAY           - 7.5                L 29-27

9                      at New Orleans    - 2                   L 35-45

10                   SEATTLE                 - 9.5                L 36-31

11                   KANSAS CITY         - 3                   T 54-51

12                   Bye Week

13                   at Detroit               - 10                 W 30-16

14                   at Chicago             - 3                   L 6-15

15                   PHILADELPHIA     - 13.5              L 23-30

16                   at Arizona              - 14                 W 31-9

17                   SAN FRANCISCO   - 10.5              W 48-32

DIV                  DALLAS                  - 7.5                W 30-22

 

Note: The Rams are 8-7-2 ATS overall this season including last weekend’s NFC Divisional Playoff win/cover against Dallas.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

WEEK #          OPP                        SPREAD          RESULT

1                      TAMPA BAY          - 10                 L 40-48

2                      CLEVELAND           - 9.5                L 21-18

3                      at Atlanta              + 1.5   (ot)      W 43-37

4                      at NY Giants          - 3                   W 33-18

5                      WASHINGTON      - 6                   W 43-19

6                      Bye Week

7                      at Baltimore          + 2.5               W 24-23

8                      at Minnesota        - 2.5                W 30-20

9                      LA RAMS                + 2                   W 45-35

10                   at Cincinnati          - 6                   W 51-14

11                   PHILADELPHIA     - 7                   W 48-7

12                   ATLANTA               - 12.5              W 31-17

13                   at Dallas                - 7.5                L 10-13

14                   at Tampa Bay       - 9.5                W 28-14

15                   at Carolina             - 6                   L 12-9

16                   PITTSBURGH         - 6.5                L 31-28

17                   CAROLINA             - 8                   L 14-33

DIV                  PHILADELPHIA     - 9                   L 20-14

                       

Note: The Saints enter this NFC Championship Game at 10-7 versus the vig overall this year but note that includes a current four-game spread losing skid.

       

 

Editor’s Note – Catch our AFC Championship Game preview in the next edition of Jim Sez.

 

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