NFC championship game: San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams – live! – The Guardian
Howdy folks, and welcome to our coverage of the NFC championship, which in this case is kind of an extension of the NFC West championship.
It’s the San Francisco 49ers, on the road in the cushy conditions of a state of the art soon to be Super Bowl facility, against an embattled, support challenged home team: the Los Angeles Rams.
Indeed, the Rams – better quarterback, more talent, better divisional finish, home game – are in something of a strange position. LA seem to fit neatly into the “nobody likes us” category, despite all the advantages listed above, including that January home game you play all season to earn. Or even worse, perhaps it’s the “nobody cares about us” slot they sit in (gulp).
Such is the life of a Los Angeles based NFL team: fancy address, few fans. There was a reason the city was a void of the nations most popular league for so long: they’re just not that into it. Or maybe LA, a city of considerable diaspora, are just into others, like the 49ers for example: this weeks visiting home team.
Even worse for the Rams, San Francisco beat them twice in the regular season, most recently, 27-24 in this very same venue just a few weeks ago, extending their formidable winning streak to six against the SoCal franchise.
So yes, there’s a lot of negative story lines out there when it comes to these Rams. And not all of it is fair of course: these Rams are actually an excellent team, and are actually favored to win today. And if they do win, they’ll be in their second Super Bowl in four seasons. Plenty of franchises would sign up for that (I can think of two right here in New York).
This is the team of QB Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Even Matt Gay, whose clutch kick put them into the NFC title game is a Pro Bowler. So this team has Supeer Bowl caliber weaponry – they just have few fans and can’t beat the Niners. Which is a bit problematic.
That’s because the Niners strikingly handsome quarterback Jimmy Garropolo, ok/fine to good, only sometimes very good, is further proof that it is possible for a franchise to get into big games without the Mahomes’ and Rodgers’ of the world, and actually win them. (Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer also helped).
The mortal Jimmy G does excels beyond his natural talent level, in part because he can rely on the dynamic cast he’s surrounded with – five pro-bowlers, seven alternates, including wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle. They are well coached by head coach Kyle Shanahan, and have the mettle to win on the road, in the cold and snow against a team with three more wins and a Rodgers.
That means there’s no fear for these 49ers in the controlled, considerably friendlier atmosphere where these two teams will play today.
How will it end? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. We’ll have a bit more pre-game fodder before kickoff and get to your thoughts, providing you snd them in. Seriously, hit me with anything – I’m here for you. Email me with your thoughts or tweet @LengelDavid and I’ll put your name in the paper (your mom will be so proud).
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