The NFC championship between the Rams and Saints will be one for the ages, with the Rams returning to the title game for the first time since 2001 and the Saints are hoping to have a repeat of the 2009 season, when they won the Super Bowl.
The game is bound to be an all-around battle, with veteran quarterback Drew Brees at the helm for the Saints and second-year QB Jared Goff leading the Rams.
Brees has offensive weapons in running-back duo Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, while receiver Michael Thomas has emerged to be a surprise asset down the field. Meanwhile, potential league MVP Todd Gurley has been a strong presence for the Rams, and C.J. Anderson surprised all by rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Cowboys.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints will have to deal with top defensive tackle Aaron Donald, while Goff and company will have to look out for Cameron Jordan.
Here we take a look at 10 facts about the Rams and Saints as they prepare for Sunday’s NFC championship — with the help of our colleagues at Opta. (If you like what you see here, give @OptaJerry — the official Twitter page for Opta’s NFL and NCAA stats-driven football coverage — a follow on Twitter.)
10 Opta facts for Rams vs. Saints:
— This will be the second playoff meeting between the Saints and Rams, with New Orleans winning the first, 31-28, in 2000. New Orleans beat Los Angeles earlier this year, 45-35, at home.
— The Saints’ 20-14 win over Philadelphia in the divisional round was their seventh consecutive win at home in the playoffs. Their last home postseason defeat was in 1993.
— This will be the Rams’ sixth appearance on the road in a conference championship game. They are 1-4 in previous such games, with their lone win coming in 1979.
— The Saints gained 25 first downs against the Eagles, 10 of which were on third or fourth down. They are only the sixth team since 1991 to have better than 50 percent third-down conversion rate while completing multiple fourth-down attempts.
— The Rams gained 273 yards rushing against Dallas last Saturday, the most in a single game since San Francisco had 323 against Green Bay on Jan.12, 2013.
— Last Sunday against the Eagles, Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas became the first player since T.Y. Hilton in 2014 with 12-plus catches and 170-plus receiving yards in a playoff game.
— The Rams’ Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson are just the second pair of running backs with 100-plus rushing yards in the same playoff game since the start of the 1977 season.
— Saints running back Alvin Kamara is just the third player all-time to record 150-plus all-purpose yards in a playoff game in each of his first two seasons.
— Rams linebacker Dante Fowler had his third sack Saturday over the span of the last two postseasons. No player has more in that time.
— Saints quarterback Drew Brees is averaging 322.1 yards per playoff game in his career, the fourth-most of any player with 150-plus postseason passes.