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NFC Championship Game Betting Preview: 49ers-Rams

A full betting breakdown for Sunday's NFC championship matchup between the 49ers and Rams.

If you invested that the No 4 seed would be playing the No. 6 in the NFC Championship, your betting bankroll should be up substantially.

The NFC title game, featuring Matthew Stafford and the NFC West Champion Rams against NFC West rival 49ers, was not whom many sports bettors or oddsmakers believed would be the final two teams left in the conference.

Prior to the start of the playoffs, the Rams were listed at odds of +475 and the 49ers at +1000 to win the NFC at SI Sportsbook. Only Arizona (+1200) and Philadelphia (+2500) were listed as bigger long shots than San Francisco.

Los Angeles now has the opportunity to become the second consecutive team to represent its conference in the Super Bowl in its home stadium. As we know, Tom Brady and Tampa Bay became the first team to ever accomplish the feat last season. With a victory over the 49ers, the Rams would be afforded the luxury of playing in Super Bowl LVI in the friendly confines of SoFi Stadium.

Los Angeles enters the NFC championship game fresh off a wild 30-27 win over Tampa Bay in the divisional round. The Rams, who improved to 14-5 straight-up (SU), are still only a pedestrian 10-9 against the spread (ATS). Los Angeles has been a solid investment for bettors over its last eight games, posting a 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS mark.

San Francisco, following two consecutive road playoff wins, is now 12-7 SU, which has helped NFL bettors turn a profit by posting a 11-8 ATS mark. The 49ers, who are 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS on the road, will look to continue being road warriors in the role of underdogs for the fourth consecutive game.

The 49ers have now won nine of their last 11 games overall.

The questions bettors must answer in this matchup are simple: Can the 49ers, who have won six consecutive meetings against the Rams, beat Los Angeles for the third time this season? Or will Matthew Stafford’s drive to make his first Super Bowl appearance of his 13-year career come to fruition?

In Week 18, the 49ers overcame a 17-3 halftime deficit, beating the Rams in overtime, 27-24, as 3.5-point road underdogs. That win helped secure the regular season sweep following San Francisco’s 31-10 victory as 3.5-point home underdogs in Week 10. 

Despite the two wins by the 49ers, oddsmakers have refused to make any adjustment to their power rankings, installing Los Angeles as a 3.5-point favorite.

Check NFL Championship Game Odds at SI Sportsbook

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Dontae Johnson (27) tackles Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

No. 6. San Francisco 49ers (12-7) at No. 4 LA Rams (14-5)

Spread: San Francisco +3.5 (-110) | Los Angeles -3.5 (-110)
Moneyline: San Francisco (+155) | Los Angeles (-188)
Total: 46 – Over (-110) | Under 46 (-110)
Public (Spread) Betting Percentages: SF 53% | LAR 47%
Game Info: Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022 | 6:30 p.m ET | FOX
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change

The line has held steady since the opener of Los Angeles (14-5 SU; 10-9 ATS) as 3.5-point home favorites over San Francisco (12-7 SU; 11-8 ATS) at SI Sportsbook. The total, which opened at 47, has dropped to 46 following strong public and respected money backing the under. In the two regular season meetings, the two clubs averaged a combined 46 points, which has resulted in a 1-1 mark in total wagering.

It should be noted that it took 10 points in the final 2:29 of regulation plus overtime in Week 18 for the second meeting to go over the posted total of 47.

Rumors swirled prior to last week’s divisional round game that injuries to both Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb and shoulder were considerably worse than the club was revealing. If we go strictly by the numbers, the signal caller threw for a season-low 131 passing yards. In fact, Garoppolo has thrown more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (0) in the playoffs. The 49ers, who failed to score an offensive touchdown, were bailed out by their special teams, which recorded a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Although he has shown toughness playing through his injuries, San Francisco will not advance to Super Bowl LVI if it does not receive solid production from its much-maligned signal caller.

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San Francisco 49ers running back Eli Mitchell (25) runs the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

The 49ers' offensive attack focuses on strong running volume by several capable talents. Elijah Mitchell leads the team with 149 rushing yards and a touchdown in the postseason. The emerging rookie has averaged 88 rushing yards in the two meetings with a Los Angeles defense that has stepped up its play in the playoffs, holding Tampa Bay to just 51 rushing yards and Arizona to 61 rushing yards.

Deebo Samuel's lore continues to grow with every passing game.

San Francisco’s versatile talent continues to one-man offensive show, accruing 111 rushing yards and a touchdown while also leading the club in receptions (6) and receiving yards (82) in two playoff road victories.

In the passing attack, Samuel is joined by star tight end George Kittle.

The pass-catching tight end, who produced immense production in Weeks 13-15, averaging 8.3 receptions and 141.6 receiving yards, has failed to score in six straight games. Kittle, who posted his most receiving yards (63) since Week 15 in the Divisional round, has 12 receptions for 132 receiving yards over his last five games combined.

In two games against the Rams this season, Kittle ha d10 receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. Upon a deeper dive, we discover that Los Angeles has been stingy against tight ends, only allowing four touchdowns to the position all season. The last opposing tight end to score a touchdown against Los Angeles was Kittle in Week 10.

Matthew Stafford has been outstanding in the Rams' two playoff wins, completing 74.5% of his passes with a 4:0 interception-to-touchdown ratio. Stafford, who finished third in the NFL in passing yards (4,886) and second in passing touchdowns (41), has also added two rushing scores in the postseason after not scoring any in the regular season. On Sunday, the veteran will face a San Francisco defense that has surrendered the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (206.5). In the two meetings with the 49ers, Stafford struggled with ball security, throwing four interceptions.

Cooper Kupp, who led all wideouts in the regular season in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16), has not let up in the postseason. Kupp leads all players in the postseason with 244 receiving off a team-high 14 receptions in two games. None of his receptions were any bigger than his 44-yard catch with only 27 seconds remaining to set up the game-winning field goal over Tampa Bay.

In the playoffs, Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Tyler Higbee have become integral weapons for Stafford in the passing attack. Beckham, who has caught a touchdown in six of 10 games since being acquired from the Browns, is averaging 12.3 yards per reception in the two playoff wins.

The Rams' rushing attack, which received a massive boost from the return of Cam Akers (Achilles) in the wild card win over Arizona, had serious issues last week against the Buccaneers. The second-year standout from Florida State fumbled twice and nearly cost the Rams their opportunity to play in the NFC championship game. The Rams will need the tandem of Akers and veteran Sony Michel to help keep the Los Angeles offense balanced Sunday against a stout San Francisco run defense that has not allowed an opponent to rush for more than 79 yards in seven consecutive games.

The Rams look like a team of destiny, but since 2019 San Francisco is 11-4 ATS as road underdogs and amazingly has posted a 10-5 SU mark at plus-odds. In addition, the 49ers are 7-3 both SU and ATS in their last 10 games against the Rams, including six consecutive wins over their bitter rival.

However, as we know, it is very hard to beat a team three times in one season.

If the Rams can take care of the football and force Garoppolo to beat them, they should be playing in Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium.

Respected money has thus far avoided this game in regards to a straight-up play on the side. Instead, they have targeted the total. In the last six games, the two foes have played four of six to the under and if not for the overtime period in Week 18 that number would be five of six. The total, which opened at 47, has already begun to dip, but it's still at a playable number so let’s once again follow their lead.

BET: UNDER 46 (-110)

SI BET REVIEW

For the second consecutive week, respected plays on NFL Playoff wagering did not get off to a good start. Divisional weekend commenced with the Titans (-3) not being able to overcome three interceptions by Ryan Tannehill against the Bengals, while the Packers (-5) poor special teams play prevented the club from beating the 49ers. My weekend closed out strong as the Rams (+3) held on to defeat the Buccaneers followed by my teaser play involving Los Angeles (+10) combined with Buffalo (+9) cashing with ease. In addition, my lock prayer proposition wager of the weekend involving Matthew Stafford and Josh Allen each throwing more than 1.5 touchdowns (+143) came through in smashing fashion.

2021 SI Betting Monday Night Football: 9-8 ATS / Props 16-12 +5.75 units
2021 SI Betting Playoffs: 5-5-1 ATS / Props +0.70 units
2021 SI Betting NFL Football Overall YTD: 50-42-1 ATS & Props +11.02 units
2020 SI Betting NFL Football: 72-58-1 ATS (55%)

Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst who provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.

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