LA Rams can be perfectly imperfect in NFC Championship Game

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Okay. Enough with walking on eggshells. Yes, the LA Rams face their NFC West Division nemesis in the NFC Championship Game. What did they expect? The game is intended to feature the two best NFC teams in a head-to-head competition. Anyone who has followed the NFC West this year could anticipate the two last teams emerging from the west.

This one is all about the San Francisco 49ers (12-7, 8-3 away) facing the Los Angeles Rams (14-5, 7-3 Home) one more time. Sure, the 49ers have a six-game winning streak against the LA Rams in the past three regular seasons. Yes, the 49ers players have trolled the Rams team and players relentlessly and ruthlessly for months, if not years.

But the time for talking is over. This is the time for both teams to put their best efforts on the football field and let the chips fall where they may. Neither team has had a Cinderella type of season. There have been no signs of fairy godmothers, pumpkin carriages, or even magical moments.

For the two NFC’s finest teams, this has been a season of grit, of adversity, and of overcoming some pretty formidable odds to claim the right to compete in this one.

Two deserving teams, one winner

For the valiant San Francisco 49ers, this season has been a pattern of dashed optimism followed by scratching and clawing their way back. Both times the Niners faced the LA Rams this season, they were standing on the precipice of oblivion. Lose either game? They simply never make it to the NFL Playoffs, never defeat the Dallas Cowboys, and never defeat the Green Bay Packers.

For the resilient LA Rams, this has been a team that has fought adversity virtually all season long. From losing RB Cam Akers before the season ever started to losing WR Robert Woods mid-season, to fighting a surge of positive COVID-19 tests that burned through more than half of the team’s active 53-man roster, no game was a given.

Now here is where I may lose some of you. The LA Rams do not need to play a perfect game to win this one. Let me say this again. The LA Rams need not put on a perfect performance in all three phases of the game in order to win the NFC Championship Game.|

Not perfect, just better

They simply need to play better for 60 minutes than the San Francisco 49ers.

Why is that important? If the Rams enter this game focusing too intensely on mistakes, they will make mistakes. After all, you often end up where you look, whether you intend to do so or not.

So forget about making mistakes. The Rams were shorthanded and made multiple mistakes in Week 16 when facing the Minnesota Vikings on the road, and won. The team then went back on the road the following week, made just as many mistakes in Week 17 on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, and won. In fact, out of the past five games played, only the Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs was relatively mistake-free.

These LA Rams are 7-1 in the last eight games. Through many of those games, the Rams overcame being significantly short-handed. Through many of those games, the Rams overcame a rather substantial number of mistakes.

Winning championships is a dirty and messy business. Sometimes it comes down to a blocked field goal. Sometimes it’s a breakdown in the secondary that allows the receiver to go coast to coast for a game-winning touchdown. Sometimes, it’s that strip-sack that ends the drive.

The LA Rams do not need to be perfect to win. The team simply needs to be good enough to win. As soon as everyone understands that, this losing streak against the 49ers ends. But until then? The LA Rams will need to practice walking on eggshells.

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