49ers loss in Week 18 to Rams could doom playoff chances

Cam Akers #23 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Cam Akers #23 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

9-7. 42. Fox. 4:25 p.m. ET. 51. Rams -3.5. Sunday, Jan. 9. 12-4

A loss to the Rams this Sunday would greatly reduce the 49ers playoff chances, but they can still sneak in with some help.

The San Francisco 49ers making the playoffs seemed to be inevitable just a few weeks ago after defeating the now playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals.

But a critical loss against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in Week 16 resulted in those chances becoming much slimmer.

The Niners pulled off a much-needed win the following week against the Houston Texans. But that didn’t clinch anything.

Now, with the last week of the NFL regular season looming, head coach Kyle Shanahan and his squad know one thing: win and you’re in.

Coming away victorious in Week 18 against the Los Angeles Rams would send San Francisco to the NFL playoffs, claiming one of the three available NFC Wild Card spots. If the 49ers lose in Los Angeles this weekend, they can still clinch a playoff berth but it will take some assistance.

Saints would determine 49ers playoff hopes

The Niners will get in the playoffs regardless of the result of their own game if the New Orleans Saints lose to the Atlanta Falcons.

With a Saints loss, San Francisco will clinch a spot in the playoffs and vice versa, the Saints face a Falcons team they lost to at home earlier this season.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Falcons seemingly have nothing to play for but pride in this matchup. Atlanta is on the fence of rebuilding and may just waive the white flag in a game that only effects postseason draft order.

The Saints enter their game against Atlanta as four-point favorites, according to WynnBET, while the Niners are listed as 3.5-point road underdogs.

San Francisco defeated the Rams in convincing fashion 31-10 back in Week 10 and will look for a similar outcome.

Struggling Saints

Although the Saints are in the same spot as the 49ers, they have been struggling as of late, winning just three of their nine games. New Orleans has been dealing with some quarterback issues due to COVID-19 protocols and just poor play at the position.

Over the past two weeks, the Saints have certainly looked like a team that can be beaten.

Just two weeks ago, they were embarrassed on Monday Night Football by the Miami Dolphins, 20-3 in head coach Sean Payton’s lowest scoring game as head coach of the Saints.

It’s worth noting that starting quarterback Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian appeared on the COVID list that week making them inactive for that game. Last week, they met against a Carolina Panthers team that struggled to move the ball against the Saints’ superior defense, and the Saints would win 18-10.

Read More: 49ers vs. Rams: Week 18 injury report, odds and how to watch

New Orleans has been having a tough time as of late, scratching and clawing for every victory. But that type of adversity could bold well for a team that appears to be comfortable when the game is at its closest.

There is a reason New Orleans is the favorite in this matchup, and it’s in large part due to the superb defense the Saints have played this season. Last Sunday, defensive end Cameron Jordan and the Saints sacked quarterback Sam Darnold seven times and took over the game.

For the Falcons to come away with a victory, they will need to put up points against one of the best defensive units in the NFL.

Getting out to an early lead would benefit the Falcons because the Saints lack the quick strike ability to comeback on offense.

And the 49ers would be forever grateful regardless of their own outcome versus Los Angeles.

Next. 4 ways 49ers end up beating Rams in Week 18. dark