The Rams are a Week 18 win away from winning the NFC West title for the first time since reaching the Super Bowl.
Standing in their way: The San Francisco 49ers, a team Los Angeles hasn’t lost since 2019.
San Francisco is a perfect 5–0 in their previous matchup with LA, which is statistically dominated by a margin of around 10 points per matchup, and owns an average time of possession of 11 minutes.
In their first meeting this season, San Francisco scored an upset victory that started the turnaround for the 49ers, beating the Rams in convincing 31-10 fashion. Even with the appearance of Aaron Donald — and last season, the NFL’s No. 1 defense — Jimmy Garoppolo has scored five straight wins over the Rams. It tied for the Rams’ third-longest streak of quarterback wins versus the Rams, according to NFL Research, since the league’s 1970 merger.
There is a lot of history against Ram. But a win gives Los Angeles a win that the franchise has coveted since falling to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
“He’s had our number since I’ve been here,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said Thursday via team transcript. “It’s disappointing but they don’t have mind control over us, nothing like that if that’s what you’re asking. The game just goes like this. But we’re going out of confidence on Sunday. We’re not going there. Was thinking, ‘Ah, man, we’ve lost so many games.’ It’s not our mindset at all. We’re definitely going out there confidently.”
Ram has every right to be convinced. After going 0-3 in November, Los Angeles is a perfect 5-0 in December and January. The Rams are scoring on the defensive that propelled Los Angeles to the divisional round last season, earning just 16.4 points per game during their winning streak. Rams have a plus-one turnover difference and a plus-eight sack difference in their last five matches.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris credits time in the practice field for Los Angeles’ defensive turnaround over the past five weeks.
“You got better technology, you got better efficiency, you got shorter meetings, you got more time together,” Morris explained Thursday. “It’s more visual learning. More learning with people and more learning between each other. And those things just come into play throughout the season. And that’s worked out well for us.”
The Rams will need to work once again this weekend to secure a division crown and a home playoff game at Sophie Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LVI. If not, the door will be left open for the Cardinals to charge a late fee to claim the NFC West throne.