No sixth seed has reached or won the Super Bowl since the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 season. No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since the 2004 New England Patriots. Both streaks will continue because the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles blew a 14-0 lead at the No. 1 New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round and lost 20-14.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
So, the Saints will host the NFC Championship Game for the second time in franchise history with the No. 2 Los Angeles Rams as visitors on Sunday.
The Saints’ only other trip to this game was following the 2009 season when they beat the visiting Minnesota Vikings in overtime. Drew Brees and company would go on to beat Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts to win the franchise’s only Super Bowl. It’s also just the second Saints-Rams meeting in the playoffs as they met in the Wild Card Round in the 2000 season.
New Orleans, which is 6-0 all-time in home playoff games under Brees and head coach Sean Payton, opened as a 3.5-point favorite over the Rams. The Saints are 2-7 ATS in their past nine playoff games as home favorites – they failed to cover at -8.5 against Philadelphia. The Rams, meanwhile, are just 2-8 ATS in their past 10 as underdogs. They were -7.5 in the Divisional Round against the Dallas Cowboys and just covered in a 30-22 decision.
That made 32-year-old Sean McVay the youngest head coach in league history to win a playoff game.
The NFC title game is a rematch of a Week 9 game in New Orleans, a wild Saints 45-35 victory that proved to be the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed. New Orleans led by as many as 21 in the first half before Los Angeles tied it at 35 in the fourth quarter. The clinching play for the Saints was a Michael Thomas 72-yard TD pass from Brees with just under four minutes to go.
One key injury for this game is Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who was lost for the season in the Divisional Round win over the Eagles. He was a key part of the NFL’s No. 2 rush defense. The favorite has won five of the past six NFC title games, and New Orleans is on a nine-game home winning streak against teams with winning records.