This season’s third game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams is the most important. The betting odds favor the Rams in Sunday’s 2022 NFC Championship Game, but recent history between the rivals suggests that the 49ers could be headed back to the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles is a 3.5-point favorite over San Francisco, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, after winning the NFC West and finishing two games ahead of its rivals in the standings. Of the Rams’ five losses, two have come at the hands of the 49ers, which might just have L.A.’s number.
The 49ers are 6-0 against the Rams since the 2019 season. Much has been made of the coaching matchup between Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, who seems to be at a disadvantage whenever he coaches against his close friend.
This is a better team Rams’ team than the one that the 49ers swept in 2019 and 2020, namely because Matthew Stafford has replaced Jared Goff at quarterback. The midseason additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller have improved the roster. Cooper Kupp has emerged as arguably the NFL’s best receiver.
Stafford has been an upgrade over Goff in most games, but not against San Francisco. The 49ers picked off Stafford twice in each win over the Rams, limiting him to 481 yards and a 78.6 passer rating.
That’s not unique to Stafford, who has been fantastic with a 131.5 passer rating in the postseason. San Francisco made both Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers look ordinary in consecutive road playoff wins, holding the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to a combined 30 points.
San Francisco sacked Prescott and Rodgers five teams each. The 49ers also sacked Stafford five times in a 27-24 Week 18 win in Los Angeles to clinch a wild-card spot.
Dominating the line of scrimmage has been the story of San Francisco’s success against L.A. The 49ers ran for 156 yards against the Rams in a 31-10 Week 10 victory. Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel combined for 130 yards on the ground in Week 18. Aaron Donald never sacked Jimmy Garoppolo once in the regular season.
During the playoffs, the 49ers have won in spite of Garoppolo. Against the Rams, the quarterback was a major contributor. Garoppolo had a season-high 141.7 passer rating, completing 15 of his 19 attempts in Week 10. Garoppolo threw two interceptions in the regular-season finale, but he also led a 17-point comeback and finished with 316 yards on 9.9 yards per attempt.
The 49ers have scored at least 23 points in five straight games against the Rams.
The Rams blew out the Arizona Cardinals 34-11 in the wild-card round. Los Angeles jumped out to a 24-point lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before three fumbles forced the Rams to win a 30-27 nailbiter in the divisional round. Keeping that pace against this San Francisco defense will be difficult.
After ranking third in total defense during the regular season, the 49ers have given up 285.0 yards per game in the playoffs against a pair of explosive offenses. San Francisco held Los Angeles below 280 yards of offense in both regular-season matchups.
The NFC Championship Game over/under is 46.5. The Rams are -188 moneyline favorites. The 49ers are +158 underdogs to pull off the upset.
NFC Championship Game Betting Predictions
Spread: 49ers +3.5
Total: Under 46.5
Moneyline: 49ers -188
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