I: Was the LA Rams’ win in the NFC Championship game a fluke?
The LA Rams may have won the NFC Championship game last season, but the question remains whether that was a one-time fluke, or whether last year’s success can carry over to this year. In many ways, the Rams’ ability to shunt the 49ers running attack and win the game was the perfect storm of the right players on the right team at the right time.
That feat may not be easily duplicated.
It’s not as though the San Francisco 49ers cannot be beaten, they can. It’s not as though the LA Rams cannot win games, they do. But the patience of the 49ers offense to hammer away at the middle of the Rams defense with running plays and crossing routes has been the difference in the last six regular-season contests. And it cannot be on the shoulders of HC Sean McVay. The Rams have had DC Wade Phillips, DC Brandon Staley, and even DC Raheem Morris designing and calling the defensive plays.
It was not until his third game facing the 49ers offense that Morris got it right. Can he duplicate that success?
Morris has gotten better against the 49ers with each game
Morris is not easily flustered. He knows what works against the 49ers in 2021, and has progressively gotten ever better at frustrating them. The Rams lost game one by a score of 31-10 (the same score as the Rams’ loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener this year). The Rams lost game two by a score of 27-24 in overtime to end the season. The Rams would win their third meeting by a score of 20-17.
31 points, to 27 points, to 17 points. See the pattern?
I don’t think that the Rams’ NFC Championship game win was a fluke at all. I believe that the LA Rams have finally found the right strategy to frustrate what the 49ers offense likes to do. Even more optimistically, I believe that the Rams are in a pretty good position to do so once more.
Whether this is a low-scoring game or a shootout, the Rams can match up this season. I suppose the biggest question remaining to be answered is: Will they do it?