The Los Angeles Rams (8-6) will meet the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The Rams are coming off an embarrassing and disappointing 44-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys (7-7). The loss especially hurts the Rams chances for a playoff run.
For the Rams to make it to the Wild Card, the Minnesota Vikings (10-4) would have to lose out the rest of their season to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. This is highly unlikely, although a loss to the Packers is possible. Either way, the Rams would also need to win their remaining two games against the Niners and the Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams had an impressive win against the Seattle Seahawks (11-3) in Week 14. The Seahawks are also number one in the NFC West. This means the Rams can potentially beat the 49ers. The Rams remain 6.5-point underdogs. When the Rams and Niners last met in Week 6, the Rams lost 20-7. However, it was a 7-7 tie in the first half. This week, the Rams would have to show the 49ers the same toughness they showed the Seahawks with a stalwart, penetrating defense and potent offense that can execute plays. This was not the case against Dallas.
What may help the Rams is that the 49ers are also coming off a shocking 29-22 loss against the Atlanta Falcons (5-9). It was a hard-fought passing attack that came down to the final seconds of the game. Against the Falcons, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had 22 completions on 34 attempts for 200 yards and one touchdown. He had no interceptions and was sacked once. Tight end George Kittle led in receiving with 13 receptions for 134 yards. Second to Kittle was wide receiver Deebo Samuel who had one reception for 29 yards. On the ground, running back Raheem Mostert led the way with 14 carries for 54 yards and one touchdown.
On defense against the Falcons, 49ers linebacker Fred Warner led with nine total tackles including one tackle for loss. Defensive tackle Sheldon Day and defensive end Nick Bosa each registered one sack.
For the season, Garoppolo has 295 completions on 427 attempts for 3,445 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also has 53 yards rushing with one rushing touchdown. Kittle leads receivers with 73 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Samuel is second in receiving with 48 receptions for 669 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 98 yards rushing with one touchdown. Receiver Emmanuel Sanders has 30 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns.
Mostert leads in rushing for the season with 116 carries for 662 yards and five touchdowns. He also has 164 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Running back Matt Breida is close behind with 119 carries for 607 yards and one touchdown. He also has 120 yards receiving with one touchdown. Tevin Coleman has 127 carries for 500 yards and leads in rushing scores with six touchdowns. He also has 173 yards receiving with one touchdown.
Warner leads the Niners defense with 104 total tackles for the season. He also has three sacks. Bosa and defensive end Arik Armstead both lead with nine and 10 sacks, respectively. Cornerback Richard Sherman leads with three interceptions.
Against the Cowboys, Rams quarterback Jared Goff had 33 completions on 51 attempts for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice and had one interception. Running back Todd Gurley had very little production with 11 carries for 20 yards and a touchdown. He also had 18 yards receiving with one touchdown. Most of the Rams scores were in the final minutes of the game when it was already out of reach.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee had milestone games. Kupp broke 1,000 receiving yards for the season and Higbee hit over 100 yards receiving for a record three straight games. He has also surpassed receiver Brandin Cooks in yardage.
For the season, Goff has 338 completions on 535 attempts for 3,996 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also has 24 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Goff should break the 4,000 passing yards mark against the 49ers. Gurley has 188 carries for 721 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has 186 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Kupp leads receivers with 83 receptions for 1,031 yards and eight touchdowns. Receiver Robert Woods has 75 receptions for 950 yards and one touchdown. He also has 100 yards rushing with one touchdown. Woods is looking to break 1,000 yards for the season as well.
The Rams will need to tighten up their defensive line against the 49ers’ running back trio of speedsters that also have tackle-breaking power. Mostert, Breida and Coleman can cut through the middle and run around the edges with ease. Last week,tackling fundamentals were suddenly forgotten. There were missed tackles all over the field and this cannot be the case when facing San Francisco’s ground game. Linebackers Clay Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr., have been strong throughout the season, did not show well against the Cowboys last week. Dallas dominated the running game with 263 total yards. The Rams only had 22 yards rushing.
Rams cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams will face off against Sanders,Samuel and Kittle. Kittle is a big challenge and has three games for over 100 yards this season. Troy Hill broke his thumb against the Seahawks and had to have surgery. Expect safeties Taylor Rapp and Eric Weddle to step up in coverage as well. Rams linebacker Cory Littleton still leads the defense with 124 tackles. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald did not register a sack last week, but still leads the defense with 11 sacks.
Kickoff is Saturday at 5:15 p.m. PST on NFL Network.