NFC Championship Game 2022: Winner, Score Predictions for 49ers vs. Rams

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2022

NFC Championship Game 2022: Winner, Score Predictions for 49ers vs. Rams

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    If you're a football fan who thoroughly enjoys a rivalry game, this year's NFC Championship Game will be perfect.

    On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will host the San Francisco 49ers with a trip to Super Bowl LVI on the line. The Rams and 49ers, of course, both play in the NFC West. They've met twice per season since 1950 and have each represented the NFC in the Super Bowl recently—the Rams following the 2018 season, the 49ers following 2019.

    Another interesting aspect of this game is the fact that SoFi Stadium is set to host the Super Bowl. If the Rams win this weekend, they'll host the Super Bowl, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did last year.

    With two physical squads, two innovative head coaches and no love lost between the two teams, Sunday's matchup promises to be a thriller. Here's a look at all you need to know about this year's NFC title game.

Game Info and Odds

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    Date: Sunday, January 30

    Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

    TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports app

    Money Line: Rams -170 (bet $170 to win $100), 49ers +150 (bet $100 to win $150)

    Line: Rams -3.5

    Over/Under: 46

              

    *Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Preview

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    While football fans probably don't need an extensive history lesson, it's worth diving into the recent results between the 49ers and the Rams. To make things brief, it has heavily favored San Francisco.

    The Rams haven't beaten the 49ers since the 2018 season. Since then, Kyle Shanahan's squad has gotten the better of Sean McVay's group six straight times. In the last meeting—in Week 18 in Los Angeles—San Francisco came back from a 17-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime.

    This win allowed the 49ers to reach the postseason while keeping the New Orleans Saints out.

    Considering San Francisco's recent dominance, one could assume that Shanahan's 49ers have figured out McVay and his schemes. However, McVay insists that Shanahan isn't in his head.

    "No," McVay said, per Kirk Larrabee of 49ers WebZone. "What I do have is respect for these guys. They've done a great job."

    If the Rams are going to end San Francisco's winning streak, they may not have the benefit of a true home-field advantage. The Rams initially limited ticket sales to residents of the greater Los Angeles area, but there is no such restriction on the resale market.

    There were a lot of 49ers fans at SoFi in the last meeting. The 49ers are hoping to see a similar turnout on Sunday.

    "Hopefully the Faithful will be out there loud and proud. And I know they're trying," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo told reporters.

    While the game may not have a true neutral-site feel, Los Angeles isn't likely to provide the same advantage the Kansas City Chiefs will enjoy in their conference title game.

Prediction

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    It's going to be tough for Los Angeles to buck the recent trend in this rivalry. It's also extremely difficult to defeat the same team three times in the same season. We saw this last year, when the Saints beat the Buccaneers twice in the regular season only to lose to them in the playoffs.

    San Francisco has a winning formula. It has a stout defense, a fearsome pass rush led by Nick Bosa, and it has a potent rushing attack led by Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel. This formula helped carry the 49ers past the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers to get here.

    However, the 49ers may be without star left tackle Trent Williams, who suffered an ankle injury against the Packers—though Shanahan is hopeful.

    "I know he believes he's playing, and so do I," Shanahan said, per Kyle Posey of SB Nation. "If he can, he will."

    Not having Williams at 100 percent will be a huge detriment against Aaron Donald, Von Miller and the Rams pass rush. The 49ers need Garoppolo to play a mistake-free game to come out on top, and that simply may not happen this time around.

    Garoppolo was quite good in leading San Francisco back in Week 18. However, he's thrown six interceptions in his last four games. Expect a late mistake from Garoppolo to give the Rams the opportunity they need to pull ahead.

    Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp connected to set up a late go-ahead field goal against Tampa Bay last week. Expect them to do the same here, while L.A. keeps things close via the ground game.

    This is a contest that could go either way, but the Rams have the offensive and defensive firepower to avoid the sort of collapse they experienced in Week 18.

    Prediction: Rams 28, 49ers 27

              


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