It’s only Week 2 so it might be a bit early to make declarations about any specific team, but one thing’s for certain: If the Rams beat the 49ers on Sunday afternoon, it’ll completely change the public’s perception of Sean McVay’s team.
The Rams have already begun to shift the narrative around them this season. They opened the year with a convincing win against the Seahawks in Week 1, crushing them by 17 points – on the road at Lumen Field, nonetheless. And this coming weekend, Los Angeles has another opportunity to make a statement.
Before the season began, the Rams were picked to finish third in the NFC West, miss the playoffs and win around seven games, depending on who you ask. The 49ers were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Just about everyone was high on San Francisco coming into 2023, with many picking Kyle Shanahan’s group to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
So what would happen if the Rams beat the 49ers this weekend?
OK, not quite, but the mighty 49ers losing to the unproven and youthful Rams sure would shake things up in the NFC. The power rankings on Tuesday wouldn’t put the Rams over the 49ers just yet, but it would bring the two rivals much closer in polls around the internet; at Touchdown Wire, the Rams began the year 29th and the 49ers were fifth.
Beating the 49ers is much easier said than done, even for a Los Angeles team that looked really good in the first game of the season. San Francisco has a fantastic defensive line led by Nick Bosa, a premier linebacker in Fred Warner, big-time playmakers in the passing game with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk, and – oh, by the way – a guy named Christian McCaffrey.
Bock Purdy may not be an All-Pro quarterback but with a group like that around him, he just has to get the ball in their hands and avoid costly turnovers.
The Rams will have to win this game in very different fashion. They don’t have the collection of pass rushers that San Francisco has. They have Aaron Donald and some young, hungry defenders up front.
They also don’t have a game-manager at quarterback. They have a gunslinger in Matthew Stafford.
Yet, it’s hard to feel like the Rams don’t have a chance in this one. That would’ve felt near-impossible two weeks ago but Los Angeles impressed a lot of people in Week 1 and has begun to collect some believers.
The Rams are massive underdogs in this one, even at home. They’re getting 8.5 points from San Francisco, one of the largest spreads of the week. Very few people expect them to win, but if they do, watch out.
It may be early in the season but the Rams can quickly shift the narrative from “they’re tanking!” to “are they actually legit contenders in the NFC West?” That’s how much is riding on this Week 2 tilt.