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49ers vs. Rams: NFC championship game preview

November 15, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs the football against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams (11) during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Due to the Green Bay Packers losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round last week, the home-field advantage belongs to the Los Angeles Rams. They avoided a second-half collapse by knocking off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27. However, playing the NFC championship game in their venue will not be easy. Los Angeles will be facing a familiar face in the San Francisco 49ers.

Dating back to 2019, San Francisco has incurred a six-game winning streak over Los Angeles. A win over San Francisco will remove an enormous weight over the Rams franchise. For that to happen, a few things must come into play. Head coach Sean McVay must allow his quarterback Matthew Stafford to perform at the best of his ability.

McVay seemed to have gotten a little uptight with the play calling in last week’s contest against Tampa Bay. Last Sunday, Los Angeles blew a 24-point lead against the Buccaneers, but would eventually pull away after Rams kicker Matt Gay converted on a 30-yard field goal attempt. Despite the four turnovers in last week’s game against Tampa, McVay managed the game from a conservative approach. That may not be the right course of action this Sunday against San Francisco.

In their second matchup to finish the season, the Rams were up 17-0 until the 49ers reverted to their physical style of play as they went into the half. They would erase the Rams 17-point lead and eventually secured a wild-card playoff berth. What was observed in the second matchup between the Rams and the 49ers is that Los Angles has had a difficult time stopping Kyle Shanahan’s vaunted rushing attack. In both matchups during the regular season, the Rams have given up a total of 291 rushing yards. They cannot allow those flaws to show up this Sunday once again.

Extra attention must be paid to 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuels at all times. Samuels versatility at the position has allowed him to become one of the league’s most dangerous weapons on offense. The Rams defense must contain Samuels and running back Elijah Mitchell and force Jimmy Garoppolo to defeat them differently.

As for the 49ers, if LA has issues defending players like Samuels, they need to continue doing the things that has made them successful in both matchups during the season. Garoppolo cannot have the costly mistakes that almost shifted the outcome during the two previous matchups against Dallas and Green Bay. Their defense has shown that they can neutralize what makes Los Angeles so dangerous on offense. 

Predicted Outcome

It is scarce for a team to have three successive wins over their opponent in one season. The last time that it was accomplished was in 2000 when the Tennessee Titans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in both games during the regular season and a third time in the AFC championship game. On Sunday night, it will be the day that the Rams finally take down the 49ers. It will not be an easy task, but the Rams shall prevail over San Francisco. Los Angeles wins by 10.

49ers 24

Rams 34

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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