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Rams News: Key players to watch in Los Angeles vs San Francisco

Los Angeles Rams News and Links for 1/8/22

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Round two between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers is on tap for Sunday in Week 18 of the 2021 season. The Rams are 12-4 and looking to lock up the NFC West title while the 49ers are 9-7 and hoping this game isn't their last.

Here are a few key players to watch.

Sony Michel and Cam Akers

The key to the game for both sides will be who can control the game with a dominant run game. If McVay decides to lean on the run game then it will be a question of how productive Michel and Akers can be and what kind of push the offensive line will produce. Michel has been one of the best running backs in the National Football League over the past five games. He’s gained 497 yards and three touchdowns in that span. Akers is set up to make one of the most impressive returns from an injury in history as he prepares to come back after just about six months from an Achilles injury.

Matthew Stafford

Turnovers were one of the main differences in the last meeting between these two teams. Stafford threw two interceptions in the first quarter the second of which was brought to the end zone by defender Jimmie Ward for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 14-0 lead. Stafford threw zero interceptions in six games this season and in those games the Rams are undefeated. Over the last three games, Stafford has committed six interceptions and the Rams are also undefeated in those games. Which means that most recently, the team as a whole are finding ways to finish games even to overcome rough starts. However, if Stafford can start and finish clean with ball security, the chances for a Rams victory increase dramatically.

Cooper Kupp

Kupp is going for the triple crown to finish the season ranked as the number one receiver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. In those categories he’s already the leader and could remain on top with even an average game. But the one mark that he will be chasing is the National Football League record for most receiving yards in a single season in which he is currently fifth but only 136 yards from reaching the top of the list.

And now for today’s links:

RAMS NEWS:

49ers DC DeMeco Ryans: ‘I have the utmost respect’ for Rams WR Cooper Kupp as a receiver, blocker (NFL.com)

Ben Skowronek emerging as key, trustworthy piece to wide receiver rotation as Rams close out regular season, push toward playoffs (Rams.com)

Rams-49ers injury report: LA fully healthy, Jimmy Garoppolo questionable (RamsWire)

LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp within reach of rare NFL WR Triple Crown (RamblinFan)

NFL NEWS:

Week 18 injury report for 2021 NFL season (NFL.com)

RB Index, Week 18: Two players I was wrong about in 2021 (NFL.com)

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Diontae Johnson off reserve/COVID-19 list after just one day (ESPN)

San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan won’t reveal starter for finale; Jimmy Garoppolo officially questionable (ESPN)