The Rams are within a Week 18 win of clinching the NFC West title for the first time since reaching the Super Bowl.
Getting in his way: The San Francisco 49ers, a team Los Angeles hasn’t beaten since 2019.
San Francisco is a perfect 5-0 in its last meetings with Los Angeles, statistically dominating by a scoring differential of almost 10 points per game, and has an average time of possession advantage of 11 minutes.
In their first meeting this season, San Francisco scored a surprise victory that started a game changer for the 49ers, defeating the Rams convincingly 31-10. Even with Aaron Donald in attendance, and last season the number one defense in the NFL, Jimmy Garoppolo has won five straight games over the Rams. He is tied for the third-longest quarterback win streak against the Rams since the league’s merger in 1970, according to NFL Research.
That’s a lot of backlogged history against the Rams. But a win gives Los Angeles a win the franchise has coveted since losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
“Since I’ve been here, they’ve had our number,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said via the team transcript Thursday. “It’s frustrating, but they don’t have mind control over us, none of that if that’s what you’re asking. This is how the games have gone. But we’re going to come out confident on Sunday. Out there thinking, ‘Ah, man, we’ve lost so many games. ‘That’s not our way of thinking at all. We will definitely come out confident. ”
The Rams have every right to be confident. After going 0-3 in November, Los Angeles is a perfect 5-0 in December and January. The Rams are taking 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 have a turnover differential of plus one and a sack differential of plus eight in their last five games.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris attributed the time on the practice field to Los Angeles’ defensive change in the past 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 with each other. And those things just come into play during the wear and tear of the season. And it has worked well for us.”
The Rams will need him to perform once again this weekend to secure the division crown and a home playoff game at SoFi Stadium, home of Super Bowl LVI. Otherwise, the door will be left open for the Cardinals to mount a late charge to reclaim the NFC West throne.