Tipico favors Saints over Falcons and Rams over 49ers, putting New Orleans in the playoffs

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There’s only one way the New Orleans Saints will make the playoffs: they’ve got to beat the Atlanta Falcons and hope for a San Francisco 49ers loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18. If that happens, the Saints will earn the seventh playoff seed in the NFC — and a first-round matchup with the second-seed Rams.

And both scenarios are in the cards at Tipico Sportsbook. Both the Saints and the Rams are favored by 4.5 points in the regular season finale. That would get New Orleans into the tournament with a real shot at advancing further, which is stunning given everything they’ve had to overcome this season.

The Saints-Falcons over/under was set at 39.5 as of 9 p.m. CT on Thursday morning, projecting a final score around New Orleans 22, Atlanta 17. That feels realistic given the low scoring output from both teams last week — the Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 18-10, while the Falcons only put up 15 points on the Buffalo Bills. This shouldn’t be a barnburner, especially if playmaking rookie tight end Kyle Pitts isn’t available for Atlanta due to a hamstring injury.

As for the Rams-49ers matchup: the over/under has been set at 44.5, which would suggest a final tally at Los Angeles 25, San Francisco 20. The Rams were held to just 10 points in their first game with the 49ers earlier this season, but San Francisco has only put up 10 and 23 points in Trey Lance’s first two starts. It can go either way, particularly if the rookie quarterback remains under center (as opposed to an injured Jimmy Garoppolo).

So odds are good, not great, that the Saints can reach the postseason. The tough road they’ve taken to get here has led to a situation where they don’t really control their own destiny. A win alone won’t be enough to get them there. But that’s the challenge. All the Saints can do now is focus on what they can control, which includes grinding the Falcons into a fine dust on Sunday. If they don’t get any help from L.A. and end up finishing the season with a winning record, well, that’s still worth championing. No other team could manage all the hurdles they’ve had to deal with and accomplish that.

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