This Sunday the NFL’s final four contenders for the Super Bowl 53 crown will suit up to compete in their respective conference championship games. Here’s the NFC Championship Game odds preview for the weekend.
The betting guide below highlights everything you need to know ahead of the NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams, complete with odds and lines straight from online sportsbook Bovada. And don’t forget to check up on the AFC Championship Game preview for a full rundown on the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
NFC Championship Game Odds: Rams at Saints
In 2018 the NFL continued a decade-long shift emphasizing offense over defense, so it’s only fitting to see the New Orleans Saints host the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.
The Rams led the NFC with 32.9 points per game (ppg), with the Saints hot on their heels at 31.5 ppg. That offensive output made L.A. and New Orleans by far the most prolific scorers in the conference, as no other NFC team managed to put up more than 27 ppg.
Simply put, these offenses are in a class of their own, thanks in large part to creative head coaches who have mastered the art of adaptive play calling.
Sean Payton has long been an offensive innovator, harnessing the pinpoint accuracy of quarterback Drew Brees to consistently pummel opposing defenses into submission. One need only look back to the Saints’ comeback win over the Eagles last Sunday – capped off by a stunning drive that spanned 18 plays, 11 minutes, and 92 yards – to see the synergy between Payton and Brees at its peak.
Sean McVay has only been at the helm in L.A. for two seasons now, but the 32-year-old phenom has spent that short period of time revolutionizing the NFL landscape. While Payton and the Saints deploy a wide variety of personnel groupings to confuse and confound the defense, McVay has perfected the art of 11 personnel – which relies on one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers.
McVay’s Rams utilized 11 personnel on a staggering 96 percent of their offensive plays during the regular season, expertly wielding the all-purpose weaponry of running back Todd Gurley while limiting the liability of unproven quarterback Jared Goff. But even as defensive coordinators across the league knew who was coming, McVay’s ingenious scheming made where they were going a mystery that has yet to be solved.
Sufficed to say, this year’s NFC Championship Game will be decided by a contrast in styles, with Payton and McVay matching wits in hopes of reaching pro football’s pinnacle.
Saints and Rams Expected to Put on a Shootout Sequel
Those competing offensive styles were on full display in Week 9, when the Saints dealt the previously undefeated Rams their first loss of the year in a 45-35 thriller.
Brees and Goff put on an aerial display for the ages, throwing for 346 and 391 yards, respectively. But even as Goff held the edge in total yards, Brees won the game by tossing four touchdowns to no interceptions, while his younger counterpart had three scores and a pick.
That one went down in the Superdome, historically one of the toughest places for any opponent to try for a hard-fought road win.
And unfortunately for the Rams, the NFC Championship Game will too, as the top-seeded Saints used that head-to-head victory to eke out the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. New Orleans went 6-2 at home this year, and although the Rams matched that record by going 6-2 on the road, there’s nothing quite like playing in the Superdome when the Saints have a chance to secure a Super Bowl berth.
During the Payton / Brees era, the Saints are a sterling 6-0 at home in the postseason, a run which culminated in a Super Bowl XLIV trophy.
At 40 years old, Brees is searching for that elusive second Super Bowl win to put him in the pantheon of all-time great quarterbacks, while Goff is simply hoping for his second career playoff win.
Given the X-factor offered by the Superdome’s track meet effect on offense, the total of (57) on the NFC Championship Game odds and New Orleans’ status as (-3.5) favorites on the NFC Championship Game odds just makes sense.