This article is part of our Beating the Book series.
I went 2-2 last week, winning my best bet (Chiefs), and putting my playoff record at 2-5-1.
This week, my leans aren't especially strong, but I made up my mind fairly quickly about both. I'll pick a best bet between the two in the Staff Picks.
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Rams +3.5 at Saints
Neither team has looked like a powerhouse of late, with the Rams peaking early in the year and the Saints at midseason. Still, they were the top two teams in the conference wire to wire in terms of record and net points.
The Saints won the first meeting 45-35 in New Orleans, sealing it with a 72-yard TD to Michael Thomas. But the Rams were missing cornerback Aqib Talib that game, so Thomas should face tougher coverage, especially as New Orleans hasn't developed a reliable secondary or tertiary target since. Both teams can run the ball well, but only the Saints have been good at stopping the run - at least until last week when the Rams shut down Ezekiel Elliott.
Bottom line, these do not strike me as particularly strong conference finalists, but the Rams offense has been a little more dynamic of late, and their pass rush and improved secondary should be enough to keep it close at least and possibly win outright. Take the Rams.
Rams 27 - 24
Patriots +3 at Chiefs
Last week the Patriots had every conceivable advantage - early-body-clock game