In two meetings in the NFL regular season, the San Francisco 49ers had the Los Angeles Rams’ number. But none of that will matter to the Rams if they can win Sunday’s NFC Championship Game matchup to secure the biggest home game of them all.
In Week 10, the 49ers throttled the Rams 31-10 at Levi’s Stadium, which kick-started a turnaround after a 3-5 start for San Francisco. But to cap that turnaround with a trip to the playoffs, the 49ers needed to win at SoFi Stadium in Week 18. And win they did, forcing overtime with a last-minute touchdown and taking the win on a Robbie Gould field goal.
Now the two NFC West rivals meet once again, this time with the NFC title on the line. If the Rams win, a “host” team will be in the Super Bowl for the second straight season. And if the 49ers win, they will return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
Which team will move on to face the winner of the Bengals-Chiefs matchup? Will the third time be the charm for the Rams, or will the Niners pull off the season sweep?
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams NFC Championship Game Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- NFC Championship Game Matchup: San Francisco 49ers (10-7, 3rd in NFC West, #6 seed in NFC) vs. Los Angeles Rams (12-5, 1st in NFC West, #4 seed in NFC)
- Venue & Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
- Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
- Time: 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. ET local time)
- TV: FOX
Betting Odds (as of Sunday, January 30, at 6:30 a.m. ET)
- Spread: San Francisco 49ers +3.5 (-110), Los Angeles Rams -3.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 45.5 (-110), UNDER 45.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: San Francisco 49ers +145, Los Angeles Rams -175
Odds are via BetMGM.
San Francisco 49ers Playoff Results & Statistics
- Wild Card (at Dallas): #6 San Francisco 49ers 23, #3 Dallas Cowboys 17
- Divisional Round (at Green Bay): #6 San Francisco 49ers 13, #1 Green Bay Packers 10
- Yards Per Game: 276.5
- Passing Yards Per Game: 139.0
- Rushing Yards Per Game: 137.5
- Giveaways: 2 (2 interceptions)
- Yards Allowed Per Game: 285.0
- Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 213.0
- Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 72.0
- Takeaways: 2 (1 interception, 1 fumble)
- Turnover Margin: 0
Los Angeles Rams Playoff Results & Statistics
- Wild Card (at Los Angeles): #4 Los Angeles Rams 34, #5 Arizona Cardinals 11
- Divisional Round (at Tampa Bay): #4 Los Angeles Rams 30, #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27
- Yards Per Game: 401.5
- Passing Yards Per Game: 295.0
- Rushing Yards Per Game: 106.5
- Giveaways: 4 (4 fumbles)
- Yards Allowed Per Game: 271.0
- Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 215.0
- Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 56.0
- Takeaways: 4 (3 interceptions, 1 fumble)
- Turnover Margin: 0
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams Betting Outlook
Can Deebo and the Defense Lead the Niners to a Championship?
Two big reasons that the 49ers were able to turn it around after their subpar start were star offensive weapon Deebo Samuel and stout defense.
Those two reasons were prominent parts of both regular season wins over the Rams and were also key to the playoff wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
Superman Samuel Showing No Signs of Slowing
Samuel is one of the NFL’s top playmakers, finishing 5th in the NFL in receiving yards (1,405), 1st in yards per catch (18.2), and second in yards after the catch (780). He was also San Francisco’s second-leading rusher, tallying 365 yards on only 59 attempts. Samuel finished tied for seventh in the NFL in touchdowns with 14 (six receiving, eight rushing).
Samuel’s playmaking prowess has continued in the postseason, and it is no surprise that he is one of the leading Super Bowl MVP contenders.
In the 23-17 win over the Cowboys, he had three catches for 38 yards and ten carries for 72 yards and a touchdown.
In the 13-10 win over the Packers, he had three catches for 44 yards and ten carries foe 39 yards. On the final drive, he had a 14-yard catch for a first down and a nine-yard run for a first down to get the Niners in position for Gould’s game-winning field goal.
Can the Rams stifle Samuel? Previous evidence is not overly encouraging. Last season was an injury-hit campaign for him, as he was limited to only seven games. But over half of his catches (17 of 33) and receiving yards (199 of 391) came in two games against the Rams.
In the Monday Night Football win in Week 10 this season, Samuel had five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown and five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown. And in the playoff-clinching win in Week 18, he had four catches for 95 yards and eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown.
San Francisco’s Stout Defense Looks to Derail Another Potent Offense
Along with a steady diet of Deebo, the 49ers have excelled against two of the NFL’s top offenses.
The Cowboys led the NFL in scoring (31.2 PPG) and yards per game (407 YPG) in the regular season. However, they were held to only 17 points and 307 yards on Super Wild Card Weekend.
The Packers were 10th in scoring (26.5 PPG) and yards per game (365.6) but possessed the likely NFL MVP in Aaron Rodgers. But after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive of the game, the Packers managed only three points the rest of the way and tallied only 263 yards on offense.
The 49ers were sixth in the NFL in sacks with 48, and their pass rush has been even more punishing in the playoffs. Both the Cowboys and Packers allowed under two sacks per game in the regular season, but the 49ers sacked Rodgers and Dak Prescott five times each.
Dating back to the regular season finale against the Rams, that is now three straight five-sack games for San Francisco. And over their last eight games, the Niners have recorded 34 sacks. Harassing Matthew Stafford early and often again will go a long way toward a win on Sunday.
Will the Rams Have a Letdown After Eliminating the Champs?
NFL’s Interceptions Leader Must Avoid Mistakes
Stopping Tom Brady short of a Super Bowl or conference championship game is no easy feat. But the Rams did that, and to boot, they did it on the road.
Now, can they follow it up by securing a home Super Bowl?
Dispatching the Cardinals as they did on Super Wild Card Weekend was certainly impressive. But it is one thing to beat the Cardinals and another to knock out the champs and one of the most accomplished individuals in professional team sports.
And the Rams very nearly didn’t do it, inexplicably squandering a 27-3 lead with a rash of second-half turnovers. Fortunately, they, not Brady, had the ball last, and they made the most of it.
The 49ers don’t win by forcing a lot of turnovers. But what they are is punctual and opportunistic.
Against the Cowboys, they turned a third-quarter interception into a touchdown that would prove decisive.
On the Packers’ second drive, the 49ers forced and recovered a fumble to thwart a potential scoring drive. Had Green Bay made it 14-0 that early, San Francisco may have been done for.
Four fumbles almost did the Rams in against the Bucs, but interceptions are a major concern for Stafford. He tied Trevor Lawrence for the NFL lead with 17, and he threw two in each of the regular season meetings with the 49ers.
With their defense, the Rams can put the 49ers in a hole just as they did the Cardinals and Bucs. But Stafford and the offense need to do their part and not give San Francisco extra or easy opportunities to score.
Is Putting the Game on Jimmy G a Key to Victory?
The 49ers have reached the NFC Championship Game without Jimmy Garoppolo playing all that well. Can they win on Sunday and in the Super Bowl with that continuing to be the case.
Having one of the NFL’s best players, a productive running back in rookie Elijah Mitchell, and one of the NFL’s best defenses minimizes the burden that typically rests on Jimmy G’s arm.
But the Rams have one of the better run defenses in the NFL, and while Mitchell tallied 176 yards in two games against them, he averaged only 3.7 yards per carry. In his other nine games, he averaged five yards per carry.
Also, while Jimmy G did successfully lead the 49ers back for the Week 18 win, he threw two picks in that game that killed potential scoring drives. In the postseason, he has completed 27 of 44 passes for 303 yards (6.9 yards per attempt), no touchdowns, and two interceptions. That isn’t sustainable, even if you subscribe to the adage that defense wins championships.
He certainly has a knack for making plays right when he needs to, it must be said. He has in the postseason, and he did in leading the Niners back from a 17-0 deficit at SoFi Stadium last month. But the Rams will fancy their chances of closing it out this time if they put him in that position again.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction and Best Bets
Los Angeles Rams 30, San Francisco 49ers 20 (Best Bets: Los Angeles Rams -3.5 & OVER 45.5)
In both regular season wins the 49ers were able to limit the Rams’ potent offense.
In the first meeting, the Rams managed only 10 points and 278 yards and turned the ball over twice. And in the second meeting, the Rams scored 24 points but had only 265 yards and turned it over twice again.
Can the Niners shut them down for a third time this season? Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is being linked with multiple head jobs, and that would–or should–all but ensure he is one of them in the near future.
But Ryans will be free to pursue such opportunities after Sunday, as the Rams will take the head-to-head win that matters most.
Perhaps the 49ers have the Rams’ number like the Saints have had the Bucs’ number over the past two seasons (outside of their playoff matchup last year). Sometimes one team just happens to have another team solved.
But last week’s win over the Bucs will prove to be a major moment for the Rams. Creating problems for themselves has cost them multiple times this season and almost did again in Tampa. But after letting the Bucs come all the way back to tie the game, they didn’t panic and ensured that Brady would not have an extra period to pull out a win.
Mental aptitude and fortitude are almost as important as anything else at this time of year. The 49ers have displayed plenty, giving plenty of reason to be confident in their continued success. But so have the Rams, and in this spot, they will deliver.
Look for the Rams to take lessons learned from last week and from their first two meetings with the 49ers and book a Super Bowl date at a very familiar venue.