Los Angeles Rams: All the Reasons the 49ers Drought Ends Sunday

by Blaine Grisak
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It’s no secret at this point. The Los Angeles Rams have lost six straight to the San Francisco 49ers. That’s right. It’s been three years since the Los Angeles Rams have defeated the 49ers. It hasn’t been so much a rivalry as a one-sided affair. The Rams have been close, but they haven’t been able to get over the hump.

Unfortunately for the Rams, the 49ers stand between them and a shot to play in the Super Bowl. They’ll need to end the drought on Sunday if they want to play for the Lombardi Trophy. Here are all the reasons why the Rams will end the drought on Sunday.

The Rams Are Playing Their Best Football

It’s that simple. The Los Angeles Rams are playing their best football right now. There’s no question that this season has been and up-and-down one for the Rams. Every season has its peaks and valleys. The Rams lost three straight earlier in the year and just got by Baltimore and Minnesota late.

Right now, however, the offense is clicking on all cylinders. Additionally Raheem Morris has the defense on lockdown. Hell, even the special teams is playing well in Brandon Powell turning into a really good punt returner.

Over the last eight weeks, the Rams are 7-1. The offense is scoring 28 points per game and the defense is allowing just over 18. This is a team that lost three straight earlier in the year. Since then, they’ve found their identity and stuck to it. It’s started the run game and extended to Matthew Stafford in the pass game.

Teams want to be playing their best football when it comes to December and January. Well, the Rams are doing just that. They blew out Arizona in the wild card round despite analysts having the Rams on upset alert. If it weren’t for four fumbles in the second half, last week’s game against the Buccaneers is a 40-24 type blowout. The Rams have peaked at the right time and they have two more wins to go.

The Rams Are Determined to End It

You don’t think Aaron Donald is tired of hearing about the 49ers and how they’ve beaten the Los Angeles Rams six times. You don’t think Sean McVay is tired about hearing how Kyle Shanahan is in his head? You know that they’re tired of it and want to get this monkey off their back.

This week, my mindset is there’s no way we’re going to lose this game,” said Aaron Donald. “We have to play four quarters. We have to find a way to finish, and I know we’re going to do that.”

When asked if Kyle Shanahan was in his head, McVay responded, ““No. What I do have is respect for these guys … You look at the last time that we played them, we didn’t finish the game.”

This Rams team is simply too good to lose seven straight to the 49ers. The Rams have lost five or more consecutive games four times in their history. Only twice has it gone past that – the current streak and the infamous 17-game losing streak. Not even the bad Rams teams from 2007-2011 lost six straight.

Between 1959-61, the Los Angeles Rams lost five straight to the 49ers. The average point differential was 19.4 points. The average point differential in the 17-game losing streak was 18.59 points. During the five-game losing streak from 2008-2010, the Rams lost by an average of 16 points. During this drought? The Rams have lost by an average of 8.5 points. Three of the games have come down to the final play.

Yes, good teams win those games. However, at some point, your luck runs out.

The Rams Have the Better Roster

At the end of the day, the Los Angeles Rams simply have the better roster.

The lead the league in pass-rush win-rate and run-stop win-rate, pass-block win-rate, and are ahead of the 49ers in run-block win-rate. In DVOA, the Rams rank fifth while the 49ers rank sixth. PFF also grades the Rams more favorably than the 49ers with the team ranking 1-2.

When you look at the talent, the Rams have the better quarterback, the better receivers, more dynamic running back, and best defensive player. From a coaching standpoint, it’s close, but since 2017, McVay has more wins, more playoff wins, and more division titles.

The Los Angeles Rams were leading this 49ers team 17-0 in Week 18 and it was looking like we were heading towards a blowout. The Rams have blown out their last two opponents and will be looking to finish what they started in Week 18.

The 49ers are where they are because of the Rams. Had the Rams won in Week 18, the 49ers aren’t in the playoffs. The Rams were 87 seconds, 89-yards, and one stop away from ending the 49ers season. They’ll be looking to end it for good on Sunday.

No Team Since 1966 Has Won Four Consecutive Road Games

Winning on the road in the NFL isn’t easy. The 49ers are vying to become the first team since 1966  to win a road game in four consecutive weeks. The 49ers have been a tough team on the road this season. They went 6-3 on the road and became the first team last week to win three straight road games against 12+ win teams.

The 49ers handed Green Bay their first home loss of the season However, going on the road can be draining. It’s not easy making road trip after road trip after road trip. Meanwhile, the Rams have been good at home this season, losing just three games to Arizona, Tennessee, and these same 49ers.

Of the teams to win three straight games against a team in the same season, only the Tennessee Titans were able to beat the 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars twice on the road. Additionally, home teams are 6-2 in the last eight NFC Championship games.

Jimmy Garoppolo Will Make “The Mistake”

Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown an interception in four straight games. He almost made the crucial mistake last week when he threw a red zone interception before the half. There’s a reason that the 49ers handed the ball off to Deebo Samuel on 3rd-and-7 with the game on the line instead of putting the ball in Garoppolo’s hands.

The 49ers were 2-6 in the regular season when Garoppolo threw an interception and he had two or more interceptions in four games. In those games, San Francisco was 1-3 with the lone win coming against the Los Angeles Rams. Garoppolo has had a passer rating under 90 in four straight games as well.

While the 49ers run has been impressive, they are where they are because of their defense and special teams. The 49ers offense scored a total of six points last week. Garoppolo has had three games this season in which he’s had a negative EPA/play. The 49ers have lost two of those games.

In terms of postseason EPA/play, Garoppolo is the worst quarterback remaining in the playoffs by a wide margin. In fact, he’s the only quarterback remaining with a negative EPA/play.  As we saw last year, at some point, your quarterback can’t continue to be a liability. Garoppolo has yet to throw a touchdown pass this postseason. Not even Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson did that.

Garoppolo will make a mistake or two in this game. The Rams need to be able to capitalize on it.

Matthew Stafford

We just talked about one quarterback. Now, let’s talk about another quarterback. Matthew Stafford has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the postseason for the Los Angeles Rams. He didn’t have to do a lot against Arizona, but he remained efficient and made throws when he needed to. The stat-line wasn’t special, but Matthew Stafford was.

Last week against the Buccaneers was a different story. Matthew Stafford was the difference-maker. Stafford was responsible for four touchdowns against the Buccaneers. His most impressive moment came in the final seconds when he hit Cooper Kupp deep with less than 30 seconds left to set-up the game-winning field goal.

Stafford is third in passer-rating, Total QBR, and EPA/play  this postseason. Nearly everyone had questions about Stafford coming into the postseason. After ending the year tied for the league lead in interceptions, there were questions if it would be Stafford who would crumble under pressure. For a quarterback who was told that he couldn’t win in the postseason or win the big game, Stafford has done just that this year. He has one more win to go to make the Super Bowl.

It’s Destiny

Aaron Donald said it best this week, “If you were going to write a book, this is how you’d write a book.”

Each time that the Los Angeles Rams have beaten the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs, they’ve gone on to the Super Bowl. The Rams beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.

A four seed and six seed have played just once in the NFC Championship Game. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, 32-25. The quarterback for the Cardinals? Former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner.

Matthew Stafford set franchise records or finished top-2 in passing yards, passer-rating, and passing touchdowns. Kurt Warner won the Super Bowl in 1999 and 2001 setting those records and Jared Goff finished second in yards in 2018 in a year the Rams made the Super Bowl.

The Rams have moved twice in their franchise’s history. When the Rams moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles, they won the NFL Championship in year six. The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles six years ago.

 

 

 

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