49ers vs. Rams: Updated Odds, Predictions for NFC Championship Game 2022

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2022

49ers vs. Rams: Updated Odds, Predictions for NFC Championship Game 2022

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    It's Round 3 of the 2021 NFL season for the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, and this one is for all the marbles.

    More specifically, there will be a Super Bowl LVI berth on the line when these NFC West rivals lock horns in Sunday's NFC Championship.

    The sixth-seeded 49ers swept the fourth-seeded Rams during the regular season, including a Week 18 overtime triumph that secured San Francisco's playoff spot. It was the third consecutive season in which the Niners have swept the series, giving them six straight victories over their in-state rivals.

    Will history repeat itself, or can L.A. score the ultimate revenge? We'll lock in our prediction here, after laying out the latest lines and digging deeper into the matchup.

NFC Championship Schedule, Odds

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Who: Rams vs. 49ers

    When: Sunday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 p.m. ET

    Where: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California

    TV: Fox

    Spread: Rams -3.5

    Total: O/U 45.5

               

    All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Matchup Breakdown

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    On paper, the Rams have the better roster.

    Matthew Stafford has a more electric arm than Jimmy Garoppolo. The pass-catching tandem of Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. probably trumps any iteration of Deebo Samuel and insert-49ers-receiver-here. L.A. has three dynamic pass-rushers (Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd) to San Francisco's two (Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead).

    Of course, the Rams looked better on paper in the previous two matchups, too, and still couldn't keep up with the 49ers. San Francisco enjoyed a 31-10 blowout in the first meeting, and while it had to rally back from a 17-0 deficit in the second, it had a 449-265 advantage in total yards.

    How did that happen? Well, the 49ers controlled the battle of the trenches and pressured Stafford into more mistakes (seven sacks, four interceptions) than Garoppolo committed (four and two). They also dominated the ground game (75 carries for 291 yards and two scores to 37 for 116 and zero).

    More than anything, though, they weaponized Samuel as the ultimate difference-maker. In the first matchup, he had five receptions for 97 yards and a score, plus five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown. In the second, he had eight carries for 45 yards, four receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns: one receiving, one passing.

    The 49ers want to turn this into a low-possession, run-heavy affair. If they do that, then the combination of their surging defense and the apparently unstoppable Samuel could lock up yet another win in this rivalry. But if Stafford, Kupp and Beckham get cooking, they can force the 49ers to lean heavier on Garoppolo than they'd like and potentially break open this game.

Prediction

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    With impact pass-rushers on both sides, offensive line play will be critical in this contest. That also happens to be where the biggest injury questions loom for both sides.

    L.A. left tackle Andrew Whitworth missed the divisional round with a knee injury. San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams played but suffered an ankle injury that puts his status for Sunday up in the air. Both would be dearly missed if they can't go.

    This game will likely hinge on decision-making and explosive plays. Will Stafford or Garoppolo make the first head-scratcher, and how does that player's team respond? Can the 49ers get enough chunk plays on the ground to keep the Rams' playmakers on the sideline?

    This feels like a coin flip, and the fact this might not feel like much of a home game for the Rams makes it even harder to predict.

    But there must be a reason the 49ers have been so successful in this matchup, right? Sometimes, a team just has its opponents' number, and even if Stafford was only around for the last two losses, even he has been unable to change his club's fate.

    The Rams might have the weapons to race past the opposition, but the Niners seem to know how to neutralize them. San Francisco's ground-and-pound style is a proven formula for playoff success, and our crystal ball says it will power this team to a second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons.

    Prediction: 49ers 24, Rams 21

                  

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