2022 NFC Championship
For the 2022 NFC Championship, two teams from the same division will fight to earn a spot in Super Bowl LVI. The host will be the Los Angeles Rams, winner of the NFC West, a team that was expected to be in these instances, and, on the other hand, we have the San Francisco 49ers visiting.
For the 49ers, the journey hasn’t been easy. Even in Week 18, they needed to beat the Rams to get in the playoffs and they did it in overtime. Then, it was off to Dallas where they controlled the game to get the win and this past weekend against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. An opponent they know all too well by now and has beaten four times in a row when they face each other in the Rodgers era.
The Rams and 49ers have faced each other 145 times dating back to 1950 for their first matchup. San Francisco, currently, has the lead with 75 wins. Surprisingly, they have only faced each other one time in the postseason: the 1990 NFC Championship. On that occasion, the 49ers keep the W at home and subsequently become the Super Bowl Champions.
Sadly, for Rams fans, the McVay era hasn’t been any different. Since they were both hired in 2017, after being co-workers in Washington, Kyle Shanahan has the upper hand on McVay. The Rams started with three wins in the first two seasons but after that, they have lost six straight for a 3-7 overall record.
With all of this in mind, let’s preview the key points for each team:
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are in the fight to get to the Super Bowl but it hasn’t been thanks to Jimmy Garappolo’s performance. In his last for games, he has thrown two touchdown passes against six interceptions and had an average QB rating of 75. Currently, the over on Jimmy G is 0.5 interceptions. For the 49ers to win, they need to manage Garoppolo’s activity as they have been doing these past games.
Shanahan’s solution in the playoffs has been to run the ball. Against Dallas, they ran the ball 38 times, and against the Packers 29 times. Elijah Mitchell has done an average job running with 3.38 yards per carry in the last two games but is a reliable weapon for the 49ers.
The revelation this season has been Deebo Samuel, leading the team in receptions (77) and yards (1405). The interesting part has been his involvement in the running game. Against Dallas, he ran for 72 yards and one touchdown in 10 attempts and we expect him to have a similar game this weekend where he’s involved both on the ground and in the air.
Los Angeles Rams
While watching the games between the 49ers and Rams this season two things need to be resolved for the home team to win this weekend. First, Matthew Stafford had two picks in each game, they came at the worst time possible, and all four were desperate throws. We know Stafford’s arm strength makes him a dangerous player at any point of the game but when that ability is going to be used, it has to be very well thought out.
In addition, the 49ers defense did a good job defending the Rams’ receiver group outside of Copper Kupp. The NFL leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns had 100+ yds in each game but his teammates struggle. Odell Beckham Jr. was held to 18 yards in both games. San Francisco let Kupp get his share but focused on stopping to remaining weapons in the offense.
Last, we can’t leave without talking about the Rams’ defense. Aaron Donald and Von Miller will bring the pressure to an offensive line that allowed 4 sacks and 7 QB hits against Green Bay and Jalen Ramsey will be waiting on Garoppolo to throw the ball for an interception.
The Rams are the favorites to win the game but Shanahan and the 49ers know how to defeat them. As we have seen in San Francisco’s two playoff games the winner will be decided on the teams that take advantage of the opponent’s mistakes. I’m going with the Rams winning this game but the 49ers have shown that they can’t be underestimated. The 2022 NFC Championship is set to be a stellar game.