The eve of the final week of the NFL’s regular season is officially upon us. All 32 teams will play their final game in week 17 on Sunday, meaning the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will go to battle one last time.
The Rams are headed for an extended season as they have a playoff place locked in. The significance of this game to the Rams is much greater than the 49ers, as a win will secure a first-round playoff bye week. The 49ers on the other hand should be playing for draft position, though they’ll likely try to build some momentum going into the 2019 season.
Let’s take a look at the matchups to watch:
DT Aaron Donald vs QB Nick Mullens
The all-world defensive tackle is now three sacks away from tying Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5-sacks in one season. The last time Donald faced the 49ers, he sacked QB C.J. Beathard four times. He looked downright unstoppable. The 49ers should look to donate more attention towards #99, though he’s shown an ability to remain un-guardable regardless. If Donald can put together a downright dominant performance of 3.5-sacks or better, he’ll officially set another record in his legendary 2018 campaign. The 49ers are currently allowing three sacks per game.
RB C.J. Anderson vs 49ers’ front-7
Anderson played his first game as a Ram with three days of practice under his belt, receiving 20 carries for 167 rushing yards and a touchdown. Anderson looked like a bowling ball breaking tackles in the second level and creating more yardage than he was given. Anderson will likely once again be relied upon to take the lions share of the carries. He should also be better equipped to handle the workload.
Rams’ CB’s vs WR Kendrick Bourne
With WR’s Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin both ruled out with injury, the next most dangerous wide receiver becomes Kendrick Bourne. Bourne had four receptions for 73 yards last week. Bourne actually didn’t register any stats the first game versus the Rams, though the 49ers were much more healthy at receiver in that contest. CB’s Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have played better recently, with the Rams’ defense improving on all levels (even if marginally).
SS John Johnson III vs TE George Kittle
George Kittle is by far and away the 49ers’ most dangerous weapon as he’s closing in on breaking records at the tight end position. Kittle has 1,228 yards this season, with 98 of those coming against the Rams in week seven. Kittle also scored a touchdown in that contest. Now, luckily the Rams have a great defender in JJ3 who has shown an ability to over tight ends effectively. Majority of the damage that Kittle had in the first contest came against the ILB duo of Mark Barron and Cory Littleton.
LG Rodger Saffold vs DT DeForest Buckner
Rodger Saffold is one of the best offensive guards in the league, though he’ll have his hands full this Sunday with DeForest Buckner. Buckner has 12 sacks on the season, proving to be one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league. The offensive line needs to have a clean game and build some momentum moving forward towards the playoffs.