The Los Angeles Rams travel upstate to face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Week 4. These are two teams moving in contrasting directions. The Rams are on a two-game win streak, while the 49ers are coming off a Week 3 defeat. Here are our Rams Week 4 predictions as they take on the division rival 49ers.
This highly anticipated rematch of the NFC Championship will determine who has early control of a close divisional battle in 2022. Keep in mind that the Rams haven’t demonstrated much dominance to start the season. Recall that they were blasted by the Buffalo Bills in the season opener and barely escaped with a win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. The defending champions, however, never trailed in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals, winning 20-12.
The Rams’ odds of beating the 49ers here, though, are intriguing. Take notice that Los Angeles has lost its previous three away games versus San Francisco. That’s a slump that extends back to 2019. One thing in the Rams’ favor is that the Niners will be without All-Pro tackle Trent Williams in Week 4. His absence hurts San Francisco’s running attack, but it also exposes Jimmy Garoppolo to a defensive line that has already allowed 7.0 sacks this season. Having said that, this will still be a tough assignment for coach Sean McVay’s crew.
With that in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Rams in their Week 4 game against the 49ers.
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4. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey picks Jimmy Garoppolo
Jalen Ramsey was exposed in Week 1 by the Bills, but he has been more of his old self since. He had one INT and two pass breakups in Week 2 against the Falcons and followed that up with two more breakups and eight tackles last week.
On the other end of the field, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown just one INT so far this season. He did it last week against the Denver Broncos, and for sure, Ramsey has watched film from that game over and over.
Ramsey will also likely take on the assignment of shadowing Deebo Samuel, who is one of Garoppolo’s top targest. That means a lot of chances for Ramsey to get his second INT of the season. That’s exactly what will happen. Look for Ramsey to pick Jimmy G in Week 4.
3. Rams DE Aaron Donald sacks Jimmy Garoppolo
The Rams erased any doubts about their difficult two-game stretch with a strong defensive effort in the Arizona desert. That was capped by standout Aaron Donald’s 100th career sack. Despite all of the difficulties his team has endured, Donald has been a rock in every game for the Rams. His excellence should be on full display here against a 49ers offensive line that allowed four sacks last week.
Aaron Donald’s 100th career sack pic.twitter.com/vpD8ihRXwB
— alex (@highlghtheaven) September 25, 2022
On the flip side, even having Aaron Donald in the center of the defensive line, the Rams have failed to provide consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Reference, the Rams have had only 13 total pressures this season. This is the lowest in the NFL, and it bodes well for the 49ers. Expect Donald to get his sack on Garoppolo, but one sack won’t stall San Fran’s offense for good.
2. Cam Akers rushes for 80+ yards and a TD
Cam Akers averaged 5.1 yards per carry on a team-high 12 attempts and scored a running touchdown in Week 3. That’s a good sign for the Rams RB, who has been playing below expectations so far in 2022.
Keep in mind that even with those numbers, he had no targets and fumbled near the goal line in the fourth quarter. And, after being out-snapped by Darrell Henderson in Week 2, the duo shared snaps precisely 50/50 this past week. Still, Akers is clearly being more involved as each week passes.
Looking ahead, Akers appears to have supplanted Henderson as the Rams’ RB1. Akers, however, faces a difficult battle against a good 49ers defense. The Niners allowed just 101 rushing yards in Week 3, and they will look to continue limiting the ground attack at home this week.
Akers is trending upward, though. After getting zero rushing yards in Week 1, he had 44 in Week 2 and 61 in Week 3. Expect him to continue moving up. He should record 80+ rushing yards as the Rams’ main RB in Week 4 with a TD for good measure.
1. Matt Stafford continues to diversify his targets
Matthew Stafford’s record versus the 49ers isn’t great. He’s only 2-5 versus them in his career, including a 1-2 record with the Rams last season. Despite that record, however, he hasn’t exactly performed terribly against them.
With a passer rating over 90, he has 14 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in seven games against the 49ers. He was sacked at least twice in each of those games, for a total of 20 sacks in seven matchups. Still, Stafford has managed to play effectively under the pressure.
Stafford should be good for 280+ yards and two touchdowns in Week 4. Much of that will be founded on his ability to diversify his targets, just like what he did in Week 3.
Ben Skowronek, Tyler Higbee, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson each had four or more targets last week. Skowronek, Higbee, and Kupp each finished with four receptions. They helped contribute to the Rams’ 249 air yards.
That should be the framework for Stafford moving forward. He has a great WR1 in Kupp, but spreading the wealth seems the best option for the team right now.
Of course, Kupp is still the undisputed top dog here. To wit, PFF has given Kupp the top grade among wide receivers through three weeks in 2022. Even if Stafford diversified his targets, look for Kupp to go have six receptions for 80+ yards against the 49ers. Maybe one TD as well.