When the St. Louis Rams (5-6) faced off against their rivals the San Francisco 49ers (7-4) early in the season, both teams were struggling. Ever since that blow out in St. Louis, the 49ers have been on a roll winning five out of the next seven games and only losing by a point total of four in their two losses.
For the St. Louis Rams, the same could be said. Although they did not go on to win five of the next seven, they did begin to find their identity and keep games close. In all honesty they got better when Sam Bradford went down and Kellen Clemens stepped up as the starting quarterback.
This week 13 faceoff will be a matchup with a lot on the line and a much closer game. Both teams have shown they can stick around when the going gets tough. If it weren’t for two last second defensive stops by the opponents, the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers would have identical records.
There will be a lot of match ups to watch, as the 49ers will get wide receiver Michael Crabtree back from injury. The Rams are fortunate enough to have Trumaine Johnson pass his concussion exams to play on Sunday. Look for the tandem of Crabtree and Anquan Boldin to try and beat the Rams secondary. The 49ers also have star tight end Vernon Davis to worry about. The Rams will need all the help they can get from an already spread thin and inexperienced secondary.
The Rams front four will need to put pressure on the quarterback if they want their linebackers to help contain the 49ers air assault. Normally the Rams front four can bring the pressure against most quarterbacks, but the niners have a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. Fortunately for the Rams he has focused more on being a pocket quarterback this season, but it doesn’t mean he has lost any speed. Look for the Rams linebackers to have a big game against the 49ers.
The Rams have finally found a running game with Zac Stacy leading the charge. Benny Cunningham has been a revaluation as well. He got the stamp of approval from former Rams Hall of Fame running back Marshal Faulk back in the preseason. The 49ers pass defense is one of the best in the league so the Rams will need to do most of their damage on the ground. If the Rams want to keep their slim playoff hopes alive they need to win this game and it will have to be through the ground.
The 49ers are likely headed for the playoff and the Rams headed for middle of the draft. This will be a true playoff game for the Rams as they are fourth in their division and will basically need to win out if they want to taste the postseason. They have already given up any wiggle room they had early on in the season. For the niners, they are trying to fight off the Arizona Cardinals for a playoff spot. These two teams might keep it close up until the fourth quarter, but the 49ers have too many weapons on defense and a top 10 defense to back them up. The Rams have a young team who makes too many mistakes. The 49ers will eliminate the Rams from the post season this Sunday.