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NFC Championship: Which team is the best bet to advance to the Super Bowl?

New Orleans Saints

Overview of the match up

The top two seeds in the NFC survived their Divisional Round games to face off with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl. The Rams took down the Cowboys by a 30-22 score, while the Saints ended the Eagles reign as champions with a 20-14 victory. The football betting line is the Saints a 3 1/2 point home favorite.

New Orleans won the first meeting between the teams by the score of 45-35 as a home underdog on November 4. The game is expected to be much of the same in terms of scoring, with an over/under of 57. In terms of betting, this is one that leans towards the over.

Examining the teams statistically, the Rams were second in the NFL in scoring this season and 20th in points allowed. The Saints were third in points and 14th in points given up. Both teams have excellent running attacks, but New Orleans ranked 2nd against the run, giving up just 80 yards per game, while the Rams were weak against the run, allowing 122 yards on 5.1 per carry. As the Saints have the advantage defensively against the run, the Rams have the advantage in the pass game. They are ranked near the top in passing yards and the Saints were near the bottom in passing yards allowed.

Individual match ups

The Rams gashed through the Cowboys on the ground, gaining 273 yards, but can they do the same against New Orleans? It will be interesting to see if Todd Gurley (1252 yards, 17 touchdowns) and C.J. Anderson (299 yards, 7. per carry in two games) can find room to operate against a team allowing just 3.6 yards per attempt during the regular season.

For the Rams, they likely will look to take advantage of a relatively poor New Orleans pass defense. Jared Goff will key in on top targets Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, who combined for 168 receptions, 2423 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. New Orleans could also have their issues with Gurley out of the backfield, who found the end zone four times on receptions and hauled in 59 balls this season.

For the sake of betting on which quarterback will have the best game, it’s hard to go against future Hall of Famer Drew Brees at home. The amazing aspect of the Saints is they move the ball relying heavily on just a few players. Michael Thomas had 125 receptions for 1403 yards, while Alvin Kamara hauled in 81 and four touchdowns. Only three other players on the team had more than 20 receptions. On the ground, Kamara and Mark Ingram rushed for 1528 yards and 20 touchdowns and could move well against the porous Rams’ run defense.

Top notch pass rushers Aaron Donald for the Rams (20.5 sacks) and Cameron Jordan for the Saints (12.5 sacks) look to get pressure, however both teams have done a great job this season protecting the quarterbacks.

There is no clear advantage in the kicking game, as Wil Lutz and Greg Zuerlein have combined to miss only six of 61 attempts this season.

Betting predictions

This is a case that could be made to place the football bet on either team. The Rams could light it up through the air, or the Saints could maintain ball control on the ground, limiting the time the Rams’ offense is on the field.

The edge goes to the Saints because they Brees simply doesn’t lose at home in the playoffs. HIs experience in the big game will trump all other factors. The game will be high scoring and close, so the best bet is take the Saints minus the points and the over.

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