Coming off an impressive win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round, the LA Rams now head down to the big, but not so easy, Mercedes-Benz Superdome. A NFC Championship game in which we expect nothing more than fireworks. The two teams crossed paths during Week 9 of the regular season, where the Saints gave the LA Rams their first loss of the season. The Rams finished the year winning 5 of their last 7 games excluding their most recent win. Obviously the LA Rams want to avenge this loss and it starts with their defense. The Rams tried to match point-for-point with the Saints earlier in the year and they couldn’t keep up. The Rams front seven has to find a way to make Drew uncomfortable in the pocket and force some kind of turnover being, an interception or fumble.
Now Sean Mcvay could even take it into his own hands and create an extra possession, but too me, Sean Mcvay has to find a way to get Todd Gurley more involved in the second meeting between these too juggernauts. Back in the week 9 matchup Todd Gurley only had 70 total yards in the game. That being said he did average 5.2 yards per carry on 13 rush attempts. After watching the Rams on Saturday it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they decide to run heavy. Less pass attempts means less chances of a big play going the other way which killed Philadelphia’s momentum against the Saints last Sunday. Make the crowd a non-factor by pounding the rock, with what looked like a 2 headed monster last week, could be the recipe to the LA Rams going to their first Super Bowl since 2000.
After a slow start Sunday Sean Payton and Drew Brees weathered the storm to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles was working his magic all the way up to a 14 point lead after the first quarter. Then things went south for the Eagles. After a game changing interception by cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, the Saints offense went to work. The Drew Brees to Michael Thomas connection crushed the Eagles from then on. The defense took all the magic away from Nick Foles and the Eagles leading to a close 20-14 win.
The Saints can not afford to give up a double digit lead this week as they face a highly motivated Rams team. The stout defense I spoke upon has hit a huge blow losing Defensive Tackle, Sheldon Rankins to a Torn Achilles. Expect Taylor Stallworth to get a decent amount of snaps come Sunday. Losing one of their best run stoppers in Sheldon couldn’t have come at a worse time. As this Sunday Todd Gurley is coming to town with a new sidekick in CJ Anderson. This new combo single handed defeated the Cowboys last week. Both Todd and CJ had over 100+ yards in the game and both averaged over 4 yards a carry. Todd Gurley with 7.2 YPC on 16 attempts and CJ Anderson with 5.2 YPC on 23 attempts.
The way the Saints win this is how they would want to win every game. Pound the rock and let Drew Brees be Drew Brees. As long as this game is in New Orleans I expect the Saints to have 100% confidence in themselves as history shows. Under Sean Payton with Drew Brees at quarterback the Saints have never lost a home playoff game. A name to look out for come Sunday is rookie Tre’quan Smith. After Michael Thomas totaled over 200 receiving yards in the week 9 matchup I expect the Rams to have a full defensive game plan towards Michael Thomas. This is where Tre’quan Smith becomes a factor. While Michael is receiving most of the attention it’s gonna be up to the guys like Tre’quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood to make a play. As they’ve shown in the past that they can. Mark Ingram as well is someone who has fallen under the radar in this Saints offense. If there’s ever a game where he can make a big impact it’s this one. With his receiving ability out the back field and his ball carrier vision he’s one read from turning a 5 yard run or catch into a touchdown.
I’m expecting this NFC Championship Game to be one of the best we’ve seen in recent memory. From the phone celebration to Marcus Peters calling out Sean Payton. This rematch has been waiting to explode. For a trip to Atlanta this game will not disappoint.