Will the Rams get their revenge? Will Brees carry the Saints to their second Super Bowl in franchise history? Breakout Live breaks down the NFC conference title matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Rams @ Saints
I can’t get over how freaking good these two championship games are. The best teams, the smartest coaches, the top QBs – it’s all there. And it only adds to the intrigue that both are rematches of stellar games from earlier in the year. When the Saints and Rams met in Week 9, I was certain the Saints were the better team. I’m not so sure anymore. The slight regression of Drew Brees and New Orleans’ defense has left them looking vulnerable, and the way LA has run the ball over the last few weeks (largely without Todd Gurley) should scare the hell out of Who Dat Nation.
Both teams have legit concerns going into this one: Todd Gurley said his knee was good to go against Dallas, and 16 carries for 115 would seem to suggest that, but he didn’t really look like himself despite the nice stat line. Fortunately for LA, plumpy C.J. Anderson has pounded opponents in relief to the tune of 140.6 YPG and 6 YPC, which is pretty sweet for a dude who was cut by 3 separate teams in the last year. But despite what the Rams did to Dallas, it’s fair to wonder if they can repeat against a Saints team that gave up just over 80 YPG in the regular season (2nd best) and just 49 yards to Philly last week.
As for New Orleans, the protection of Drew Brees is paramount. Last week was the first time since Week 10 that the Saints’ O-line played together, and they played like it. 2 sacks allowed vs. Philly, which isn’t egregious, but it’s also not the status quo for a team that only gave up 20 the entire regular season. Andrus Peat got bullied all day by the Eagles’ elite D-Line and racked up a ridiculous 4 penalties. Turns out, Peat was playing with a broken hand the entire game. Peat’s struggles were understandable I guess, but you think Aaron Donald is going to feel badly for him? Yeah, right. He’s going to attack Peat like the Sunday Scaries after a long weekend of boozing. If the Saints can’t shore up the trenches and protect Brees, it’ll be very, very scary for the Saints.
The more I dig into this game, the more I like LA. They’re physical, they can run the rock, they’ve got the DPOY in big 99, Talib and Peters can get into Michael Thomas’ dome, and the O-line is as cohesive as they come having played the same 5 guys every single game this year. But I picked the Saints as my Super Bowl champs, so I’ll ride or die with them. If the Rams thought the Superdome was loud back in Week 9, just wait til they hear the jet engine-roar of that place come Sunday. Yes, the Rams have a lot to like. But one thing they don’t have is Drew Brees, and I just gotta believe Brees has got a little sumpin’ sumpin’ stashed away for LA with a trip to the Big One on the line.
Prediction: Saints, 31-30