The National Football League regular season finale week is here and for the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams, it comes with an invite to their division foes the 9-7 San Francisco 49ers to play for bragging rights at the very least. Also on the line, is the 49ers’ possible entry into the playoffs and the potential NFC West Championship for the Rams.
The Rams are 4-point favorites to win against the 49ers, per DraftKings SportsBook.
Sean McVay is leading his team on a five-game win streak into the finale, but not without making things interesting over the last two games. Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16, the Rams overcame three Matthew Stafford interceptions to pull out the win with a solid game from the defense and special teams. In Week 17, the Rams went into the fourth quarter with a two score deficit and thanks to a perfect second half 14 for 14 passing effort from Stafford and clutch plays by the pass catchers, LA pulled out a last minute win for their fifth straight.
After throwing two interceptions in the first half, Matthew Stafford completed his last 15 passes and led the #Rams to a comeback win.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 3, 2022
Taking into account the difficulty of each throw, Stafford had just a 1.4% chance of completing all 15 passes.#BALvsLAR | #RamsHouse pic.twitter.com/YhQtJCw19K
The 49ers have won three of their last four including a Week 17 win over the Houston Texans. San Francisco seems to have steadied the ship over the second half of the season after a four game losing streak that ended in Week 8. Against Houston, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was inactive with injury so it was rookie Trey Lance at the helm. Lance threw for 16 completions over 23 attempts, for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Deebo Samuel who has been a rushing and receiving threat this season, especially against the Rams, last week accounted for 19 yards rushing on seven carries, and 63 receiving yards over three catches with one of those going for a touchdown.
For LA, Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr continue to be the driving force for Stafford in the passing game but have also recently gotten a boost from Sony Michel in the run game. Kupp has now 138 receptions (1st), 1,829 yards (1st), and 15 touchdowns (1st), and will set a new NFL single season receiving record if he gains at least 136 yards on Sunday. OBJ has five touchdowns with the Rams this season over the six games that he’s been fully integrated into the offense. He’s scored in all but one game in that span. In the run game, Michel has produced 497 rushing yards over the last five games with a 4.6 yard per attempt average. In that span, his best game came against the Vikings in which he ran for 131 yards and a touchdown. This week, the Rams could see another boost for the offense with the possible return of 2020 second round draft pick Cam Akers after a preseason injury held him out for the season.
On defense, the Rams will aim to continue to hold teams down as they did against the Ravens allowing zero offensive touchdowns all game. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has his team ranked 6th in average rushing yards allowed but 20th in average pass yards allowed. Von Miller is jumping more directly in on the action with two sacks against the Ravens and Aaron Donald continues to be a force now with 12.5 sacks on the season which is more than the 11 he had in 2017 when he won his first Defensive Player of the Year award.
Final Score Prediction: The Rams will beat the 49ers 27-24 but will not beat the spread.
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