San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams NFC Championship Betting Preview

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams NFC Championship Betting Preview

The second spot in the Super Bowl will be decided Sunday night in the NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. The two NFC West rivals have already played twice this season, with the 49ers winning both games, including a Week 18 matchup they needed to win just to make the playoffs. Despite those two losses, the Rams are 3.5-point home favorites, with the over/under listed at 46 points.

If you cut out a 20-minute segment late in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter of last week’s game, the Rams might be the most impressive team in the playoffs thus far. They dominated the Buccaneers for large stretches last week after a lopsided win over the Cardinals in the Wild Card Round. However, Los Angeles still needs to beat a team that has won six straight games against them.

As for the 49ers, it’s hard not to be impressed with what they’ve done over the second half of the season. San Francisco had to win seven of nine down the stretch just to get into the playoffs. The 49ers have also won two road playoff games, beating the top-scoring team in the NFL and the NFC’s top overall seed.

Smoke and Mirrors

It’s hard to get too excited about San Francisco’s win last week because it was a little bit of a fluke. The 49ers won with their only touchdown coming on special teams, with Jimmy Garoppolo continuing to be average at best. In his last four games, Garoppolo has two touchdown passes and six touchdown passes, while even Eli Mitchell, Deebo Samuel, and the running game were held in check last week.

In fairness, the San Francisco defense has been outstanding in the team’s two playoff games. The 49ers have allowed a total of 27 points against the Cowboys and Packers while recording five sacks in each game. Despite some lingering concerns about the secondary, the San Francisco defense is starting to show signs of the unit that led the 49ers to the Super Bowl two years ago.

The Right Pieces

When Matthew Stafford is playing well, the Rams look like a team that is capable of winning the Super Bowl. Stafford has certainly looked good during the first two playoff games and is getting plenty of help from Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, who have quickly turned into a formidable tandem. But there is another side of that coin in the form of four fumbles last week and limited production from the rushing attack despite the return of Cam Akers.

The second-half performance from the Rams last week also reminded us of some of the flaws with the L.A. defense. For what it’s worth, the four turnovers played a major role in the Bucs being able to tie the game and erase a big deficit. But even with Aaron Donald and an elite set of pass-rushers, there are serious questions about how the Los Angeles secondary will hold up.

Third Time is the Charm

Recent history tells us that Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers own the Rams. But it’s not easy to beat a good team like the Rams three times in one season, especially with San Francisco’s limitations. Bet on the Rams to finally put everything together against San Francisco and win comfortably on their way back to the Super Bowl.

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