NFL 2019 (Week 16): Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 16): Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

After a disappointing 3-3 start to the season, the Los Angeles Rams now find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, even though they are behind both the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers within their own division. San Francisco, meanwhile, has little to complain about, although their three losses have come by a combined 13 points. A three-point loss to Seattle (their first of the season) dropped the 49ers into second place in the NFC West, but the costlier drop was to fifth overall in the NFC playoff seeds, as Seattle now holds the top spot. Those teams will have a rematch to determine the division champs in Week 17, but Saturday’s tilt still carries heavy playoff implications. Los Angeles is two games behind sixth-place Minnesota, so a loss would squash what little chance the Rams have left. A win, however, would keep things interesting if the Vikings hiccup in the final two games. Ultimately, this game means a ton to each team, and motivation should be no problem. After all, both are coming off of losses last week.

Rams: Sean McVay’s offense had been humming in back-to-back division wins against Arizona and Seattle before being demolished in Dallas on Sunday. After putting up 62 combined points in those crucial victories, the Rams found themselves down 37-7 before a pair of garbage time touchdowns closed the gap in a 44-21 final. The offense was bad, but Aaron Donald and the defense failed to contain the Cowboys on their end as well. Dallas ran for 263 yards and three scores on a whopping 45 carries, and the Rams could not produce a sack or turnover to turn the tide. Minnesota must avenge its earlier losses to Green Bay and Chicago in order to secure a playoff berth, so Los Angeles has to take care of business and root for the Packers and Bears to squeak in to the dance. Without a win at home on Saturday night, though, that point is moot.

49ers: San Francisco has lost two of its last three but is still in contention for the top overall seed in the NFC. In fact, their murderer’s row schedule of Green Bay, at Baltimore, and at New Orleans yielded a 2-1 record before the debacle against Atlanta last week. One could reasonably excuse a relaxed mindset against the 4-9 Falcons since the three previous opponents are a combined 34-8, but that loss could bite the 49ers hard. Without home field advantage, Kyle Shanahan’s team will have to win on the road against either Dallas or Philadelphia, even though neither team has a winning record through 14 games. The friendly confines of Levi’s Stadium seem like Shangri-La compared to Philly in January, and Dallas’ offense is as explosive as any in the league. Winning out would put the 49ers back on top, as they would have beaten New Orleans, Green Bay, and Seattle to get there. Such strong wins would bolster confidence and perhaps set up a Super Bowl rematch against their other quality loss, against Baltimore.

Prediction: Los Angeles regains its offensive momentum, but their run defense is just as porous against the 49ers as it was against Dallas.

San Francisco 49ers 35, Los Angeles Rams 24

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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