The San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams advanced into the NFC Championship game on the back of upset wins in their respective Division round contests. The Niners upset the top seed Green Bay Packers while the Rams upset the defending Super Bowl champions.
The NFC Championship game marks the third meeting this season between these NFC West rivals. The Niners swept the regular-season series over the Rams, but despite that positive record, sportsbooks are tipping Sunday’s highly anticipated showdown in Los Angeles’ camp.
Books opened with the Rams at -3, but the line quickly jumped out to Rams -3.5. Separately, the game total opened on 46.5 points. The line didn’t move in the first wave of early betting.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, January 30, 2022 – 06:30 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
Niners Deliver Upset
The San Francisco 49ers went into the Division Round as the significant road underdogs to the Green Bay Packers, but they rolled into Wisconsin and roughed up the Packers in a 13-10 upset win on a snow-covered Lambeau Field regardless. And the most revealing aspect was the fact that few were genuinely taken aback by the outcome. Whether that says more about the Niners or the top-seeded Packers is debatable. Perhaps, it’s a bit of both.
What we’ve always known about the Niners is that they’re a tough out. The moment the Niners clinched a playoff berth in the final week, they were officially dubbed the dangerous floaters. The team nobody would want to play in the playoffs. Two rounds in, and they’ve underscored that widely accepted perspective in spades – both in beating the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.
Jimmy Garoppolo went a modest 11 of 19 for 131 yards and zero touchdowns. He did have one interception. The defense came up big for the Niners with a defensive touchdown while Robbie Gould had a solid kicking day, making both field goals and the extra point.
Rams Stun Bucs
The Los Angeles Rams pulled off the biggest upset on Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27 to come through as the road underdogs in the pivotal victory.
The Rams have good reason to celebrate because it’s not every day one gets to compete for a chance to go to the Super Bowl game. And, arguably, nobody knows that better than Matthew Stafford, who has been plying his trade in the league for over a decade and never enjoyed even a soupcon of the success he’s now lapping up with the Rams.
At the risk of being a Debbie Downer, however, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the Rams were seconds away from potentially falling victim to another one of Tom Brady’s incredible come-from-behind wins. The Rams led 27-3 at one point. Then Brady did his thing and rallied the Bucs to tie the game with under a minute left.
Given that the Rams allowed the Bus to put up 24 unanswered points, overtime looked to be on the cards. Then Stafford with a rare show of clutch play rose to the occasion and within a couple of short plays he’d set up the Rams for the game-winning field goal. Game over. Crisis averted. But only just.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Rams lost to the Niners 27-24 in overtime at SoFi Stadium in Week 18 after fritting away an early 17-0 lead. Matthew Stafford’s interception in added time effectively ended the game. The result propelled the Niners into the playoffs and dropped the Rams from the No. 2 to the No. 3 seed.
Los Angeles’ loss to San Francisco in their regular-season finale marked a series sweep for Kyle Shanahan’s boys. What Sean McVay will be stewing over is the fact that his precious Rams haven’t beaten the Niners in six straight games. That’s not a record that instills confidence in Los Angeles, especially with a spot in Super Bowl 56 on the line.
The Rams may be the vogue NFL pick, the team that many will be looking to back. However, it’s hard to ignore the Niners, who have their number. And as the NFL line currently on offer is tipped just above a field goal, the Niners come across as the better play for NFL picks against the spread.
NFL Picks: Niners +3.5 (-110) at BetMGM