NFC Championship Game 2022: 49ers vs. Rams Comments and Stat Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2022

NFC Championship Game 2022: 49ers vs. Rams Comments and Stat Predictions

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    The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams are quite familiar with one another. As NFC West rivals, the two teams have faced off twice a year since 1950. Sunday's meeting, though, will have a trip t Super Bowl LVI on the line.

    San Francisco has won six straight against the Rams. While L.A. hasn't beaten its bitter rival since the 2018 season, the Rams' odds aren't as bad as one might think.

    Since the 1970 merger, teams that have swept their division rival in the regular season have gone 14-8 in postseason meetings. However, this marks only the fifth time in which the regular-season-winner is on the road for Round 3, and in the previous four, the road teams are 2-2.

    While it may seem a tad cliche, Sunday's NFC Championship Game could easily go either way—and those involved certainly have their thoughts on the matter. Here, we'll take a look at the latest pregame chatter and make some predictions.

NFC Championship Game Info

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    Date: Sunday, January 30

    Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

    TV and Live Stream: Fox, Fox Sports app

    Money Line: Rams -180 (bet $180 to win $100), 49ers +155 (bet $100 to win $155)

    Line: Rams -3.5

    Over/Under: 45.5


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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    As previously mentioned, the 49ers have won six straight against the Rams. However, L.A. coach Sean McVay doesn't believe that his San Francisco counterpart, Kyle Shanahan, has gotten into 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."

    In the Week 18 meeting, the Rams carried a 17-3 lead into halftime. However, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers mounted a second-half comeback and finished with an overtime victory. IF McVay and the Rams hope to reach the Super Bowl, they'll need to get ahead early and avoid a similar collapse.

    If the 49ers can produce an early lead, they could potentially run away with this one—as they did back in Week 10.

    San Francisco's ground game, led by Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel, can set the tone and control the clock. In Week 10, early L.A. mistakes—including two Matthew Stafford interceptions—led to a 14-0 San Francisco lead in the first quarter. The 49ers running game took over from there, and San Francisco ground out a 31-10 victory.

    In Week 10, the 49ers rushed 44 times for 156 yards.

    Of course, things were different when the matchup moved to Los Angeles in Week 18. While the Rams didn't hold a true home-field advantage—due to 49ers fans flooding the stands—they were able to gain early momentum.

    The 49ers faithful did make things difficult for Los Angeles, though.

    "It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half," Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said, per Keiana Martin of the team's official website.

    Expect a similarly split crowd in Round 3, though the Rams shouldn't face the hostility they did back in the first meeting.

    The Rams are certainly hoping for a different outcome.

    "We're one game away," Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said, per Stu Jackson of the team's official website. "We just have to go out there and do our job and play a full game for four quarters and finish."


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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    If the Rams are able to get out to an early lead, they will make life difficult for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. That could lead to mistakes, which Garoppolo has experienced recently. The San Francisco signal-caller has tossed six interceptions in his last four games.

    If the Rams get an early lead, expect Donald, Von Miller and the L.A. pass rush to tee off on Garoppolo for the remainder of the game.

    An early Rams lead, though, is why Garoppolo should reach the over/under set at 231 passing yards. In the Week 18 meeting, he passed for 316 yards while leading the comeback.

    Expect runner/receiver Deebo Samuel to play a large role on Sunday as well. He has an over/under set at 39.5 rushing yards. He has topped that mark in two of the last three games and rushed for exactly 39 yards in last week's win over the Green Bay Packers.

    Kupp has an over/under set at 102.5 receiving yards. While that represents a lofty goal, it's not unreasonable for Kupp. The league's receiving leader averaged 114.5 yards per game in the regular season and had no fewer than 118 receiving yards in each game against Los Angeles.

    Whether they play with the lead or from behind, expect the Rams to lean heavily on Kupp on Sunday.


    Score: Rams 29, 49ers 26

    Passing Leader: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco, 316 yards

    Rushing Leader: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco, 87 yards

    Receiving Leader: Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles, 127 yards

    Touchdowns Leader: Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles, 2 touchdowns

    Sacks Leader: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles, 2.5


    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

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