Playoffs: San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
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Who would have thought it? Third in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers have actually made it to the Championship Game. There they will face their division rivals, the Los Angeles Rams. But who has reason to celebrate on Sunday?
Probably few people expected the 49ers to make it, and their playoff journey so far has been crazy. Especially in the matchup against the Packers, the franchise’s fans had to pull themselves together. With an incredibly strong performance by the defense, San Francisco managed to keep themselves in the game despite problems from Jimmy Garoppolo and struck when the opportunity presented itself. The bottom line: anything is possible now!
But the biggest weakness is still Jimmy Garoppolo. A completion rate of only 57.9%, no touchdown (but one interception), a rating of 57.1 and only 131 yards were the disastrous balance. The QB desperately needs to step up, because not only is he facing one of the best opposing offenses in the league, but the Rams‘ defense will be targeting him as well.
The Bucs had to learn the hard way in the Divisional Round what a scary defense Los Angeles has put together. Impressively, they were able to hold Tom Brady to a 55% completion rate. Only three other teams managed so this season. Especially the duo around Aaron Donald and Von Miller will be on the hunt for more sacks. Donald already has 12.5, Miller 4.5.
On offense, you can count on Matthew Stafford, as well as the two Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. But the Rams are not perfect either, made some avoidable mistakes against Tampa (e.g. missed field goal) and let their opponent come back into the game despite a big lead. The superstar of the secondary, Jalen Ramsey, of all people, did not make a good impression and will have to improve on Sunday.
We therefore believe in a close outcome of the match-up. If necessary, the 49ers could even surprise again and make it to the Super Bowl.