The Rams are one Week 18 win away from clinching the NFC West title for the first time since they reached the Super Bowl.
Standing in their way: The San Francisco 49ers, a team Los Angeles hasn’t defeated since 2019.
San Francisco is a perfect 5-0 in their last matchups with L.A., dominating statistically by a scoring differential of nearly 10 points per matchup, and owning an average time of possession advantage of 11 minutes.
In their first meeting this season, San Francisco scored an upset win that turned began a turnaround for the 49ers, defeating the Rams in convincing 31-10 fashion. Even with the presence of Aaron Donald — and last season, the NFL’s No. 1 defense — Jimmy Garoppolo has won five straight over the Rams. It’s tied for the third-longest streak of quarterback wins versus the Rams since the league’s 1970 merger, per NFL Research.
That’s a lot of history stacked against the Rams. But a win delivers Los Angeles a triumph the franchise has coveted since falling to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
“Since I’ve been here, they’ve had our number,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said Thursday, via team transcript. “It is frustrating, but they don’t have mind control over us, nothing like that if that’s what you’re asking. It’s just how the games have went. But we are going out there confident on Sunday. We’re not going out there thinking, ‘Ah, man, we’ve lost this many games.’ That is not our mindset at all. We’re definitely going out there confident.”
The Rams have every right to be confident. After going 0-3 in November, Los Angeles is a perfect 5-0 across December and January. The Rams are rounding into the defensive form that propelled Los Angeles to the Divisional Round last season, allowing just 16.4 points per game during their winning streak. The Rams own a plus-one turnover differential, and a plus-eight sack differential in their last five games.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris credited time on the practice field for Los Angeles’ defensive turnaround in the last five weeks.
“You got better technique, you got better efficiency, you got smaller meetings, you got more time together,” Morris explained Thursday. “It’s more visual learning. More learning with the guys and more learning amongst each other. And those things just come into play throughout the attrition of the season. And it’s just worked out for us well.”
The Rams will need it to work out once again this weekend in order to secure the division crown and a home playoff game at SoFi Stadium, site of Super Bowl LVI. If not, the door will be left open for the Cardinals to mount a late charge to claim the NFC West throne.
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