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TNF Staff Picks: Saints and Rams meet with playoff spots on the line

Both the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have surged back into playoff contention with a recent run of form. This edition of TNF at SoFi Stadium will likely determine which of these has a real shot a securing January football.

Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Hello Bolts From the Blue,

The Los Angeles Rams are hosting the New Orleans Saints at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood today in a festive edition of TNF which could have dramatic impacts on the NFC playoff picture. Both teams are coming into this game with a 7-7 record but their paths to postseason football are very different; the Rams are too far behind the San Francisco 49ers who have already secured the NFC West title however their incredible form, winning four of their last five, means they are well positioned to be in a wildcard spot come January.

Despite having the same record as their opponents, the Saints are two spots behind them in the playoff standings due to their sub .500 conference record. They, however, have an opportunity to win the NFC South in a three way battle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. Should they fail in that mission then the wildcard route could become available but in order for that to come to fruition they will need to win this game as the head-to-head record will be vital to the standings.

The DraftKings Sportsbook oddsmakers have the Rams as 4-point favorites at home due to their impressive form over the last month where they have won four games and their only slip up was an overtime loss to the assertive Baltimore Ravens where they had the lead in the fourth quarter. Matthew Stafford is playing with a carefree and fun approach that has ignited his offense to be in the top 10 in almost every category. The duo of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua can torch any defense, so with both receivers on the field tonight, the Saints will have their hands full. Due to this threat Sean McVay has been able to create a scheme that gets defenses to shift into light boxes and his running backs are happily taking advantage with Kyren Williams averaging a huge 124 yards rushing yards per game since his return from injury.

The Saints’ defense has picked back up after a rough few weeks, allowing only 12 points total over their last two games which is encouraging even if that form is questionable as it was to the lowly pairing of the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants. However, they are missing several key players through injury on a short week and so Derek Carr and the offense will have to carry more of the load than they usually do. The Rams’ defense is middle of the road in every category in the same way the Saints’ offense is average in all available metrics. To win this game the Saints will likely need to both score on defense and create explosive plays to counter their yawn inducing offense. This has an increased chance of happening now that Chris Olave is back healthy but I just don’t see this being enough to overcome a Rams offense that is firing on all cylinders. I’m backing the Rams to cover the spread at -110 and would even be tempted to take an alternative touchdown spread at a generous +144.

Injuries to Consider

New Orleans Saints

Isaiah Foskey, Lonnie Johnson and Ryan Ramczyk are all Out. Kendre Miller is Questionable. Payton Turner has been placed on IR.

Los Angeles Rams

Tre Tomlinson is Out and Joe Noteboom is Questionable. Ronnie Rivers has been placed on IR.

Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:

What do you think, BFTB? Any of you placing bets tonight?