Everything you need to know heading into the NFC Championship between the Saints and the Rams

Drew BreesWesley Hitt/Getty Images

  • The Los Angeles Rams will face off against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship this Sunday.
  • When these teams met earlier in the season, the Saints walked away with a 45-35 victory, but both sides have come a long way since their Week 9 matchup.
  • Whichever team wins on Sunday will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in the NFC Championship to determine which team will get to represent the conference in Super Bowl LIII.

The game is a rematch of one of the most thrilling games of the 2018 regular season, but both teams have come a long way since their Week 9 matchup.

Below we break down everything you need to know before the game kicks off on Sunday.
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The basics:

The basics:

Who: New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams

What: NFC Championship

When: 3:05 p.m. ET

Where: New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Where to watch: FOX

What's the spread?

What's the spread?

The Saints are currently 3.5-point favorites at most sportsbooks, with some spots still offering a flat 3-point spread.

This means that for Saints bettors, New Orleans will need to win by more than three points to cash their ticket, while Rams bettors can earn their winnings with a Rams win or a loss by two or less.

The total on this game is currently listed at 57 points, meaning Las Vegas is expecting a shootout between the two teams.

What happened the first time they met?

What happened the first time they met?

The Rams traveled to New Orleans in Week 9 of the 2018 regular season.

Los Angeles entered the game undefeated, while the Saints hadn't lost since their Week 1 debacle against the Buccaneers.

After the Saints jumped out to a 35-14 lead in the first half, the Rams stormed back, tying the game in the fourth quarter, 35-35. However, in the final minutes of the game, Drew Brees and the Saints took control once again, scoring twice to win, 45-35.

Michael Thomas was the star of the show for the Saints, finishing with 12 catches for 211 yards and a score.

Who's hurt?

Who's hurt?

The Saints are a little banged up, with tight end Benjamin Watson listed as questionable after not practicing on Wednesday due to illness, and a few nagging injuries keeping offensive linemen Max Unger and Ryan Ramczyk limited in practice, but nothing has indicated that New Orleans will be short-handed come Sunday.

As for the Rams, they have listed a clean sheet on their injury report leading up to the game.

How do the quarterbacks stack up?

How do the quarterbacks stack up?

Drew Brees would likely be the front-runner for the NFL MVP award if not for the ridiculous season from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. At 40 years old and in the midst of his 18th NFL season, Brees is playing as well as he ever has.

Jared Goff has flourished in the Rams offense but is far from proven when it comes to big games. This trip to New Orleans will be the biggest moment he's ever faced.

Who has the coaching advantage?

Who has the coaching advantage?

Sean McVay is the wunderkind that seems to be driving every hire of the next generation of NFL coaches. Sean Payton has been a head coach for 12 seasons and already knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl.

In terms of handling the moment, Payton is the one who has been here before, but as McVay proved in the Rams first trip to New Orleans this season, he knows how to adjust and respond when the going gets tough.

Who is the potential X-factor?

Who is the potential X-factor?

Getting pressure on Drew Brees is crucial to interrupting the flow of the Saints offense. If you can get to Brees as the Eagles showed in the divisional round, it's possible to slow down New Orleans, but if he has time in the pocket, he can pick any defense apart.

New Orleans struggled to contain the Eagles pass rush of Fletcher Cox and Michael Bennett early in their game, but got in rhythm as the game went on.

Aaron Donald is a one-player wrecking crew. If he can be a problem for the Saints offensive line, he could be the difference for the Rams in a close game.

One fact of note:

One fact of note:

Should the Rams go on to win this game, Sean McVay would have the chance to become the youngest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl.

McVay turns 33 on January 24 and is in just his second season as head coach of the Rams.

Mike Tomlin currently holds the record after winning the Super Bowl with the Steelers at 36 years old, also in his second season leading the team.

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