Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction: Can the Rams Spoil the 49ers' Playoff Chances?

NFL expert Mike Spector breaks down the all-important Week 18 NFC West matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.
Mike Spector |
Tue, January 4, 12:45 PM EST | 6 min read
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Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction: Can the Rams Spoil the 49ers' Playoff Chances?

Get your popcorn ready. While many Week 18 games have nothing at stake, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams matchup is one of the few games on the schedule with playoff implications for both teams. The 49ers clinch a playoff berth with a win, while the Rams would be NFC West champions with a victory. So who comes out on top in this all-important game?

Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, January 9

Game Time: 4:25 pm ET

Where to Watch: FOX

Click Here for Rams vs 49ers Odds

Rams vs. 49ers INJURY REPORT

49ers

Questionable: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, CB K’Waun Williams, CB Dontae Johnson

Out: RB Raheem Mostert, DT Maurice Hurst, LB Dre Greenlaw

Rams

Questionable: S Nick Scott, RB Cam Akers

Out: RB Raymond Calais, LB Ernest Jones, RB Darrell Henderson Jr.

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Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction

The San Francisco 49ers overcame the loss of injured quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and beat the Houston Texans in rookie Trey Lance’s second start. It was San Francisco’s fourth straight home win, their longest home winning streak since 2012-13. However, the 49ers’ offense looked vanilla with Lance under center, as head coach Kyle Shanahan preferred to win with a conservative game plan. Lance did finish the game with a 116.0 passer rating, but San Francisco was very run-heavy with 37 rushes compared to just 23 passes. As a result, 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell ran for 119 yards on 21 carries and became the first 49ers running back since Frank Gore in 2011 with five games of at least 100 yards rushing.

The Los Angeles Rams were happy to walk out of Baltimore with a 20-19 win last week, but they know that they have to play cleaner football, especially in the playoffs. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford committed three turnovers for a second consecutive game, and he now has seven turnovers in the last three. Los Angeles’ comeback win was largely due to the elite play of Cooper Kupp, who became the fourth player ever with 100 receptions, 1,500 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns in a single season. Kupp now needs 136 yards this week to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season record of 1,964, though he would have one extra game with which to do it.

Many bettors will walk away unimpressed with Los Angeles’ one-point victory against the Ravens, especially since Baltimore’s ravaged secondary allowed Joe Burrow to throw for the fourth-most passing yards in a game in NFL history. However, Baltimore’s poor defensive effort against Cincinnati did not look as bad after Burrow torched Kansas City’s red-hot defense last week. The fact is that Los Angeles has won two challenging road games (at Baltimore, at Minnesota) in consecutive weeks in early kickoffs in the eastern time zone. 

While Stafford has shown his inconsistencies lately, the most important thing is that he played his best in crunch time. In the first half against Baltimore, Stafford was 12-for-21 for 147 yards and had a 1-2 TD-INT ratio. In the second half, Stafford was 14-for-14 for 162 yards and threw one touchdown with no interceptions. In addition, he was 6-for-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown on their late game-winning drive, making everyone forget the pick-six he threw earlier in the game. 

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo’s health at the moment. Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo is the starter if he is healthy, which means if his thumb injury allows him to throw and handle the ball without issues. Garoppolo has beaten the Rams in five consecutive starts. But it should worry 49ers fans that his thumb injury will seemingly significantly affect his performance if he plays. In addition, he is facing the best Rams defense he has faced in his career and one that continues to gel each week as Von Miller gets more and more acclimated to the system.

The Rams are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against divisional opponents and are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall. They eked out two tough road wins over the previous two weeks but will find comfort in playing at home and win their third division title under Sean McVay with a victory this week.

Rams vs. 49ers Pick

Mike Spector
@MikeSpector01

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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