Coming off the bye week, the Los Angeles Rams will look to attack the second half of the 2022 season but face a stiff test as they draw the formidable San Francisco 49ers in Week 8.
The two teams already met in Week 4 when the 49ers won in decisive fashion, meaning the Rams need to strike back and prove they’re better than what they showed. It’s a pivotal game between bitter rivals that could very well decide the fate of the NFC West when the regular season comes to a close.
Rams Offense vs. 49ers Defense
The time off was good for Los Angeles as they get two key starters back in Van Jefferson and Brian Allen. Jefferson brings the field-stretching ability that has been sorely missing from the offense, while Allen will shore up the interior of an offensive line that has been thoroughly outplayed during the year.
While injury luck favors the Rams, the 49ers are dealing with a string of missing players including Arik Armstead and Dre Greenlaw. Armstead and Greenlaw being ruled out hurts San Francisco’s pass rush, but Nick Bosa remains on the edge with Fred Warner patrolling the middle of the field.
In their first meeting, Matthew Stafford tried to get the ball out early and relied heavily on Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee. This time around, the o-line must hold up long enough to have plays develop downfield and challenge San Francisco’s secondary. Opening up the field should help the run game find some breathing room, particularly for Darrell Henderson who is set to lead the backfield again with Cam Akers not playing.
Rams Defense vs. 49ers Offense
L.A. gets another reinforcement back in Troy Hill who was activated off the IR, meaning Raheem Morris can deploy Jalen Ramsey into coverage while Hill assumes the “Star” position. Although Deebo Samuel was ruled out due to a hamstring injury, the Rams will need to contend with Christian McCaffrey who they just saw before their bye week. McCaffrey is a threat both as a runner and pass catcher, so linebackers Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones will need to be on high-alert anytime he’s in the game.
Knowing Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers will lean on yards after the catch and the run game to keep the Rams defense at bay. It’s the same script he’s used for all their games, and Sean McVay must find a way to break the cycle.
Keys To Victory
1. Take care of the football
Turnovers have once again plagued Stafford this year and that’s an area to watch out for against the 49ers. In their first meeting, Stafford lost a fumble and threw a pick-6 that put the Rams in an early hole. San Francisco is already excellent at controlling the game clock, so Los Angeles can’t give them any extra possessions.
2. Get pressure on passing down situations
The pass rush for the Rams has left much to be desired, and compounded with the fact that teams are getting the ball out even earlier than usual it’s resulted in far less pressure and sacks. Against San Francisco, Los Angeles needs to capitalize on passing downs and make Jimmy Garoppolo uncomfortable and get the ball back to the offense.