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NFL Free Pick from Linebacker: Rams vs Saints

NFL Free Pick Rams Saints

Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints (NO -3.5, O/U 56.5)

The conference championship round will kick off in New Orleans on Sunday, where Drew Brees and Sean Payton aim to reach their second Super Bowl together. Sean McVay and the Rams are not only seeking a Super Bowl berth, but revenge from the 45-35 loss they took at the hands of these Saints in Week 9. McVay is looking to become the youngest head coach to ever reach the Super Bowl, while the Rams are looking for their first berth since 2001. The Linebacker projects a final score of 27.4 - 26.5 in favor of New Orleans, giving us a solid play on the UNDER in this matchup. The Linebacker suggests a wager of $72 on UNDER 56.5 for a $100 average bettor.

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Why will the total go Under?

  • We project the Saints will take a run-heavy approach against a Rams defense that allowed the most yards per carry in the NFL this season. The Saints currently have 28 projected rushes between Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill, while Drew Brees is projected to attempt just 29 passes. If we see an even split between passing and rushing plays, that will certainly help the total go UNDER.
  • Aqib Talib is active for this matchup, giving the Rams a true No. 1 corner to put on Michael Thomas. In the first matchup, Thomas humiliated Marcus Peters by posting 12 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown. The Rams should opt to use Talib as Thomas’s primary coverage option, which will help limit the upside from New Orleans’ top wide receiver.
  • To further illustrate Talib’s importance, here are the Rams’ passing defense stats with and without the star corner.
    • Without - 30.8 ppg, 272.6 avg passing yards, 23:6 TD:INT, 111.6 passer rating
    • With - 17.3 ppg, 199.9 avg passing yards, 8:12 TD:INT, 74.5 passer rating
  • The Saints have undergone a defensive change as well since acquiring Eli Apple from the Giants. Apple immediately stepped in for Ken Crowley, who ranked 79th in coverage out of 80 cornerbacks. With a more reliable corner in man coverage, the Saints have been able to ramp up their pass rush. Since Apple was acquired after Week 7, the Saints have ranked first in pressure rate in the NFL at 46 percent. New Orleans will need a voracious pass rush against LA, which allowed the sixth-lowest sack percentage this season.
  • New Orleans has averaged just 19.2 points per game over its last six games.
  • How to bet the spread in Rams @ Saints:

    The Linebacker projects a final score of 27.4 - 26.5 in favor of the Chiefs. With New Orleans projected to win by only 0.9 as 3.5-point favorites, we have a small play on the Rams in this one. The Linebacker suggests a $24 wager on LAR +3.5 for a $100 average bettor.

    Need-to-know stats for Rams @ Saints:

    • 23-34, 276 yards, 1.48 TDs - Jared Goff will make his first career playoff start on the road this Sunday, and should have a decent game. The third-year QB projects to throw the ball around 35 times, falling just shy of 300 yards passing. Goff should remain efficient as well, as he finished the regular season with 8.36 yards per attempt, the fourth-best mark in the league. He projects for 8.12 y/a in this one, falling just below his season average.
    • 20 rushes, 81.1 yards, 0.98 TDs
    • 4 catches, 42.5 yards, 0.3 TDs - Todd Gurley projects to carry the load for LA on Sunday. He managed only 79 total yards on 19 touches in their first matchup, but he should have more success this time around. We project Gurley to rush for north of 80 yards on 20 carries, and he has a great chance to reach the end zone. His 0.98 rushing TD projection is the highest touchdown projection of any skill position player in this matchup. Gurley looked 100 percent healthy in the divisional round, so we have a strong feeling he’ll be fully unleashed in this one.
    • 24 rushes, 122.5 yards - Mark Ingram (13 rushes, 66.7 yds) and Alvin Kamara (11 rushes, 55.8 yds) combine to produce this rushing stat line. The two-headed backfield has worked in tandem all season since Ingram’s return, and we project it’ll be close to an even split once again this weekend. The Rams ranked dead last with 5.1 yards per carry allowed this season, so Ingram and Kamara should find plenty of success on Sunday.
    • 21-29, 236 yards, 1.43 TDs - With the running game projected to eat up plenty of yards, Drew Brees may not be asked to put up his usual gaudy numbers this weekend. We project the 40-year old to complete 21 of 29 passes (72.4%) for shy of 250 yards. His efficiency numbers are still great, projecting to post 8.13 yards per attempt and 1.43 TD passes on the day. If we see the Rams jump out to an early lead like Philly in the divisional round, Brees will certainly need to throw over 30 times in this one, but we are confident the Saints will find enough success on the ground to mitigate Brees’ attempts.