Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship Game Prediction: Will Matthew Stafford Lead the Rams to the Super Bowl?

NFL expert Mike Spector analyzes the NFC Championship Game matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers and gives his best bet here.
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Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship Game Prediction: Will Matthew Stafford Lead the Rams to the Super Bowl?

The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams both pulled road upsets in the Divisional Round, setting up the fifth occurrence in the last 25 seasons with two teams from the same division playing in a conference championship with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Of the previous four such meetings, the home and road teams have split two wins apiece. 

Will the Rams win and become the second consecutive team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, or will the 49ers spoil those plans and beat their division rivals for a third time this season?

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

Date: Sunday, January 30

Game Time: 6:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: FOX

Click Here for Rams vs 49ers NFC Championship Odds

Rams vs. 49ers INJURY REPORT

49ers

Questionable: WR Deebo Samuel, OT Trent Williams, RB Jeff Wilson Jr.

Out: CB Ambry Thomas, S Jarrod Wilson, RB Trey Sermon

Rams

Questionable: OT Andrew Whitworth, RB Buddy Howell

Out: S Jordan Fuller, LB Terrell Lewis, LB Chris Garrett, S Taylor Rapp

Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship Game Line Movement

Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship Game Prediction

San Francisco improved to 4-0 versus Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs with a 13-10 win at Lambeau Field against Green Bay. In the process, the 49ers became the first team to win a playoff game without an offensive touchdown since the Steelers in 2016. As a result, San Francisco is making their second NFC Championship Game appearance in the last three seasons.

The 49ers outscored the Packers 10-0 over the final 4:41, but San Francisco established their defensive dominance well before that. Over Green Bay’s final nine drives, they punted six times (one blocked), had two field goal attempts (one made, one blocked), and lost a fumble. It was Rodgers’ first career playoff game without a touchdown.

Los Angeles figured to be a tough matchup for Tampa Bay because of their fierce pass rush. And while they only sacked Brady twice, Aaron Donald and company got relentless pressure in Brady’s face (ten pressures in the first half alone), which was a big reason the Rams jumped out to a 27-3 lead. 

Click Here for Rams vs 49ers NFC Championship Odds

While plenty of praise will go to the Rams defense for how they played early in the game, Matthew Stafford continues to be a godsend for Sean McVay and a significant upgrade at the quarterback position than Jared Goff. Stafford’s 154.5 passer rating versus Arizona in the Wild Card Round was a franchise record in the playoffs. Stafford followed that up with a 28-for-38 for 366 yard and two-touchdown performance, with no throw bigger than a 44-yard dime to Cooper Kupp on the last drive to set up the game-winning field goal.

Los Angeles benefitted from injuries that Tampa Bay suffered the week prior, as tackle Tristan Wirfs could not play with an ankle injury, and center Ryan Jensen was also not 100%. This week’s matchup against the 49ers has a similar feel, as Deebo Samuel is set to undergo further tests this week to evaluate an ankle injury he suffered in the closing moments of last week’s win against the Packers. In addition, San Francisco offensive tackle Trent Williams was spotted on crutches after the win and is undergoing x-rays.

The 49ers have owned the Rams of late, as they enter this week having won six consecutive games in this head-to-head rivalry. And while San Francisco won the two meetings this year by a combined 58-34, Los Angeles has the feeling that they are peaking at the right time. In-season acquisitions Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller have been huge difference-makers on both sides of the ball. In addition, the return of a healthy Cam Akers has paid huge dividends, allowing their offense to become more balanced.

If Deebo Samuel is not 100%, the 49ers are in for a world of trouble. Coming off their win over Dallas, Samuel averaged 18.0 yards per catch and 6.3 yards per carry, which ranked first and second among players with either 50 carries or 50 receptions. In their two head-to-head meetings, Samuel torched the Rams for 192 yards receiving (one touchdown) and 82 yards rushing (two touchdowns). Thus, even if the ankle injury slightly hampers Samuel, San Francisco loses a dynamic piece to their offense that Kyle Shanahan can move around with pre-snap motion.

The Rams improved to 9-1 in games where they ran the ball at least 25 times in last week’s win over Tampa Bay. Thus, look for that running game to provide outstanding complementary balance to Matthew Stafford’s arm talent. Stafford entered last week with some of the best numbers in the league when facing a blitz. He has a QBR of 93.2 (ranks 1st), completes 71% of his passes (3rd), and has 16 passing touchdowns (3rd). Therefore, Shanahan’s defense will likely not be as aggressive as usual against Stafford, given his ability to pick apart pressure.

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers avenged two regular season losses to the Saints with a win in the playoffs en route to the Super Bowl. A similar narrative will play out here, with Los Angeles getting set to host the Super Bowl after a convincing win over San Francisco. 

Rams vs. 49ers Pick

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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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