By beating the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s NFC Championship game, did the Los Angeles Rams dispel the hold Kyle Shanahan’s team had over Sean McVay’s squad?
In order to earn a berth to Super Bowl LVI, the Rams had to look into the face of a 7-game losing streak to San Francisco. Is this curse truly in the rear-view, or were they finally just due to break a trend? Bettors don’t think so, as the 49ers are favored by 1.5 points in this game, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The over/under is set at 42.5, with last year’s NFC Championship totaling 37 points, with the regular season contests totaling 41 and 51.
Once again leading the 49ers’ huddle is Jimmy Garoppolo. While far from one of the top signal callers in the NFL, Garoppolo has a 6-1 record against the Rams and he won’t go down easily on Monday Night Football.
But Los Angeles added reinforcements for 2022 and they brought in Bobby Wagner exactly for games like this. His savvy and familiarity with the NFC West should help the Rams slow down a formidable 49ers rushing attack.
Here are three bold predictions for this Week 4 divisional matchup, but first let’s revisit our takes from last week:
1 - Greg Dortch will double his career yardage in revenge game against his former team (133 yards)
While Dortch did snag 9 receptions for 80 yards, the Cardinals’ leading receiver last weekend was Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who had 14 catches for 140 yards for Arizona.
2 - Kyler Murray will throw more interceptions than Matthew Stafford
Neither Stafford or Murray threw an interception in their Week 3 matchup. It was Stafford’s first game of 2022 without a turnover.
3 - Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson will combine for 150 yards and 2 TD’s
Akers had 61 yards and a touchdown versus Arizona, but Henderson was minimally involved in this game, earning only 4 carries for 17 yards. Akers could have found the end zone for a second time, but he fumbled deep in Cardinals territory to give the redbirds late life.
Cooper Kupp out-rushed Henderson with 20 yards and a TD on a single carry.
1 - Bobby Wagner will record 15+ tackles
The Rams’ defensive signal caller will play an incredibly important role in slowing down San Francisco’s rushing attack - and he will need to be consistently active on Monday night.
Wagner had 9 tackles last week against the Cardinals, and his name will be called early and often against the 49ers.
“He’s our cheat code.”— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 29, 2022
“He does everything so elegant.”
Bobby Wagner has turned the strategy and brutality of the middle linebacker position into an art form.
That comes from a deeper place than most know.
(And obsessed with this film study detail.) https://t.co/n0pYCnl2Xd pic.twitter.com/mfMB5wdZnW
2 - Nick Bosa will sack Matthew Stafford 2 times
Bosa represents the toughest test for Joseph Noteboom and Rob Havenstein since Von Miller in Week 1 and he’s a significant upgrade over anyone the Atlanta Falcons and Cardinals rolled out onto the field.
While Stafford prefers to hold the ball a beat longer so he can make plays down the field, he will need to prioritize quick decisions against San Francisco or he could find himself on the ground often.
I’m expecting a Week 1-esque performance by Noteboom and the offensive line.
Rams left tackle Joe Noteboom has allowed 12 pressures this season which is the third most in the NFL— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 29, 2022
Nick Bosa has recorded 16 pressures this season which is the third most in the NFL
3 - Tyler Higbee will lead the Rams in receptions
With Allen Robinson’s tenure in Los Angeles getting off to a slow start, veteran TE Tyler Higbee has stepped up as the Rams’ second option in the passing game.
He’s already been targeted 24 times through 3 games (8 avg), which puts him on pace for 136 targets in 2022. His career high mark was set in 2019 with 89 pass attempts aimed in Higbee’s direction.
Sean McVay has involved his tight end fairly heavily in the screen game and the Rams have been consistently successful with those plays, which essentially are an extension of the run game. If Higbee keeps up this pace, he’s set for a career season in 2022.
Is the veteran TE up next for a contract extension with the team?
Sean McVay being creative with his play design to get Tyler Higbee involved in the Rams offense pic.twitter.com/PHT0B1YUok— Kendell Hollowell (@KHollowell_) September 23, 2022