The New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams face off in the NFC Championship game Sunday in a matchup featuring an up-and-coming team with an impressive, young quarterback taking on a veteran squad with a future Hall of Famer leading the offense.
The Saints defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, 20-14, to reach the conference championship. The Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, 30-22, to earn their spot in the title game.
Here are some things to know before next Sunday’s game.
5. The Rams are back
The Los Angeles Rams haven’t been to a conference title game since 2002. Things were definitely different then: The Rams still played in St. Louis; Kurt Warner was the quarterback; They were looking to capture their second Super Bowl title in three years.
The last time the Rams represented Los Angeles in a conference title game was in 1990 against the great San Francisco 49ers team led by George Seifert and Joe Montana. The Rams got the doors blown off in that one, 30-3.
This time could be different. On Sunday, the Rams won their first playoff game since January 2005 against the Seattle Seahawks. They’ve also won two straight division titles and seem to have everything in place to make a Super Bowl run this season.
4. The ‘Gumbo’ bowl?
The matchup between the Saints and Rams reignites a rivalry between Rams cornerback Marcus Peters and Saints coach Sean Payton. During the teams’ earlier matchup this season, Payton remarked on how he liked Peters covering their top receiver Michael Thomas.
Peters commented on Payton’s trash talking after the game.
The Saints handed the Rams their first loss of the season back in Week 9.
3. LA’s two-headed monster
Everyone knows the go-to-guy in the backfield is Todd Gurley. He became a perennial MVP candidate during the season, finishing third with 1,251 rushing yards and adding 17 touchdowns on top of that. But on Saturday, Los Angeles had another running back steal the show.
C.J. Anderson, who the team signed toward the end of the season, rushed for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns in the win over the Cowboys. The Rams combined for 273 rushing yards in that game — the most Dallas had ever allowed in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
A different wrinkle could make all the difference for Los Angeles going forward.
2. Wild one expected
The Rams and the Saints are the Nos. 2 and 3 scoring teams in the league, respectively. Both teams scored more than 500 points in the regular season and during their earlier matchup, the teams combined for 80 points. The Saints won the game, 45-35.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it’s the first time since the merger the top four highest-scoring teams in the league will all be playing during the conference championships.
1. When does the showdown begin?
The Saints and Rams will play on Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The game is set to kick off at 3:05 p.m. ET. and will be broadcast on FOX.
By Ryan Gaydos