The #1 and #2 seeds meet in the NFC title game when the top seeded New Orleans Saints host the Los Angeles Rams to decide which team will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Rams stayed home and beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 to reach the divisional title game, while the Saints also protected home field, beating the Philadelphia Eagle 20-14.
The Saints are slight favorites heading into the matchup, but here are three reasons why we think the sportsbooks got this one wrong.
- Rams Secondary
One advantage that the Rams have is the experienced and talented secondary that has been built in LA. Strong safety John Johnson has been a breakout phenom for the Rams in his second year in the league. Johnson lead the team with four interceptions this season, as well as coming in second in tackles.
Johnson is accompanied in the secondary by cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, two seasoned, highly talented players. Talib missed the week 9 matchup against the Saints, and will likely guard top receiver for New Orleans, Michael Thomas this time around. Thomas and Brees were able to torch the Rams in the week 9 matchup, but with the addition of Talib this time around, things could look much different for New Orleans in the pass game.
- Return of CJ Anderson
CJ Anderson has just played three games this season, but will prove to be a huge factor in the Rams playoff run. The running back, who missed most of the season with injury, has rushed for 433 yards in the three games he’s been involved in, and will be the perfect back to recieve secondary touches behind all-pro halfback back Todd Gurley. Anderson adds a physicality that can win games in the postseason, and has a freshness about him because of the time missed due to injury. Look for Anderson to have a huge impact in the NFC Championship.
- Rams D-Line
When you are playing Drew Brees, it is more about containing him than shutting him down. No matter what you do, Brees is likely to move the ball through the air and produce points. One of the best way to keep that production at a minimum is to get pressure on the quarterback, a skill that Rams defensive end Aaron Donald has perfected this season. Donald is first in the league in sacks registering 20 of them this regular season. With Donald affecting the pass game, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh having an impact on the run game, the Rams have a very influential defensive line that will have the ability to dictate the flow of the game.