3 Reasons Why The Los Angeles Rams will beat the Saints
The much anticipated rematch between the Rams and Saints is here as the two sides will meet in the NFC Championship game. The Rams are coming off a relatively win against the Cowboys where they led more or less the entire way, while the Saints are coming off a nail-biter agains the Eagles that was decided in the last two minutes. Oddsmakers have the Saints as slightly more than field goal favorites, but the Rams will end up winning this game. Here are three reasons why the Rams will beat the Saints.
The Rams have Aqib Talib back
The Saints won the first time these two teams played back in Week 9 by a score of 45-35, but the Rams’ defense has gotten a lot better since then. Most importantly, they have cornerback Aqib Talib back, who was still out with his ankle injury the first time these sides met.
Talib is a genuine difference maker in the secondary, and makes Los Angeles’ pass defense infinitely better when he’s on the field. The Saints were able to pick on Marcus Peters the first time around, but Talib will now be there to help guard Michael Thomas. The Rams’ pass defense has gotten way better since Talib came back, and I don’t think oddsmakers are properly accounting for the difference he makes.
The Saints lost Sheldon Rankins
While the Rams are getting back a key defender they didn’t have in the first matchup, the Saints have lost one they did have. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles in the team’s divisional round win over the Eagles, and it’s a massive blow to New Orleans’ run defense. Rankins was having a career year before going down, and had received great grades from Pro Football Focus. The Rams’ rushing attack is heating up right now, and has turned into a two headed monster led by Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. The Rams rushed for 273 yards against the Cowboys, and without Rankins in the middle it’ll be hard to slow them down. I think the Rams will end up running wild for a second consecutive game.
The Rams’ offensive line is elite
The Saints have a good offensive line too, but the Rams’ is truly elite. Anchored by left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Rams’ line turned in one of the best playoff performances in recent NFL history in the win over the Cowboys. The Cowboys’ defense had been receiving a ton of hype for their improved pass-rush and defensive front, but they got completely shut down by the Rams. They never laid a finger on Jared Goff, and they got gashed on the ground.
The only thing this Saints defense has going for it is its defensive line, as their secondary is atrocious. They were able to stifle the Eagles’ offense only because of their pass-rush, and I don’t think the unit will have much success here. The only way to beat Goff is to get pressure on him, and I think he’ll have all day to pick apart this Saints secondary. We’ll see something similar to what transpired against Dallas thanks to Whitworth and co.