Ed-itorial: Rams vs Saints, lots of wins, share of questions for both
The last three NFC championship games were all blowouts won by the home team.
By halftime, the home team was comfortably ahead.
No visiting team has won an NFC title game since the 2012 San Francisco 49ers, who then lost in the Super Bowl at the Superdome to the Baltimore Ravens.
The betting line on the game has held steady. The Saints are three point favorites at home and the total on the game in Vegas is 56 and a half.
Remember, in the first game November 4th, 80 points were scored and the two clubs rang up 970 yards in total offense.
If I were the Rams .. here’s 5 things that would be of concern.
The Saints have not played their best football in almost two months. A mid-season hot streak included a shellacking of the Bengals in Cincinnati, and that 48-7 route of the Eagles.
In the Saints last four wins, including the playoff victory over the Eagles, New Orleans’ point differential in those victories is 26.
In summary, the Saints are way overdue for a break out game.
Two .. the Saints find a way to win.
“It may not be the prettiest way,” said offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod. “And, we have may give the folks at home a heart attack, but.”
The Saints have found a way. It is what good teams, do.
Three .. the Rams played well against Dallas, but they haven’t been great down the stretch. They had late season wins over the Cardinals and 49ers.
But, there was also two losses, at Chicago and at home to Philadelphia.
Four .. Here’s Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s TD/INT numbers home and away .. home 22/3 .. away 10/9. That is a disparity difficult to overlook.
And, there’s the Dome field advantage. The Saints prowess on Poydras Street grew exponentially after their dramatic roster overhaul and improvement.
New Orleans won the last 7 regular season home games in 2017, and 6 of the last 7 in 2018.
The Carolina game to end the season is an outlier because it was a glorified 5th preseason game.
The Saints have also won both playoff games at home the past two seasons.
If I were the Saints I would be worried about ..
One .. They haven’t played a great game since routing the Eagles 48-7 November 18th.
Can the Saints continue to find a way, or will uneven play catch up to them in the NFC title game?
Two .. defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins goes down with an achilles tear. It was a bad injury last week against Philly, at the worst time. Head coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that Rankins was “having his best year as a Saint.”
His interior pass rush, and ability against the run won’t be easy to replace.
Three .. guard Andrus Peat is playing with a broken hand, that required surgery.
Peat struggled against the Eagles, and that is understandable. The problem is the best part of the Rams defense is the interior of their defensive line.
Four .. the Rams run game. CJ Anderson is now the battering Ram, and Todd Gurley is the glider in a Rams running attack that featured 273 rush yards against Dallas. If the Rams run it well, well you know.
Five .. the Saints pass defense has been leaky. Only four teams, the Saints, Dolphins, Raiders, and Bucs allowed more than 8 yards per attempt in the regular season.
The Saints are the only of the four with a winning record.
Remember, Pittsburgh threw the ball at will against the Saints, with little run threat.
So, Rams Saints figures to be much closer than recent NFC title games.
An intriguing match up it is, featuring two teams that each won 13 games, but two teams who also have some holes.
That’s life in today’s NFL.