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Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers: NFC West Rivals Wrap Up Week 4 on MNF

It's an NFC Championship Game rematch as Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo go head-to-head once again.

Ahhhhh, it's hard to beat a Monday night game between two rivals and that’s what we’ve got here with an occidental showdown of the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers.

Related: NFL Predictions for Every Game in Week 4

Certainly there is no love between SoCal and NoCal, especially after the Rams ended the Niners' season this past January in the NFC Championship Game with a come-from-behind 20-17 win in SoFi Stadium. The Niners led 17-7 going into the fourth quarter until the Rams posted a touchdown and two field goals to send themselves to the Super Bowl, which they would win.

This time around the Rams are so far the only team in the NFC West with a winning record (2-1) and are coming off an impressive 20-12 clampdown of the Cardinals, where they held Kyler Murray in check and didn’t let him run wild. The Niners (1-2) are coming off an unorthodox 11-10 loss on "Sunday Night Football" to the Denver Broncos, a game they certainly could've and maybe even should've won.

Monday Night Football: Los Angeles (2-1) at San Francisco (1-2)

Kickoff: Monday, Oct. 3 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: 49ers -1.5
Tickets: As low as $82 on

Three Things to Watch

1. San Francisco's dormant offense
The 49ers went 75 yards in six plays on their second drive at Denver last Sunday night. They only totaled 81 yards in the second half alone, suffering two fumbles, an interception, and a self-induced safety to end three of their last seven possessions. On top of that, the Broncos were able to control the clock as the Niners had the ball for just 25:31 of the game. It didn’t help that San Francisco went a putrid 1-for-10 on third down too. Extending drives and grinding down that Rams defense are going to be paramount to the Niners' hopes of re-cranking the offense and pulling a W. But it remains to be seen if Jimmy Garappolo and his cohorts can move the ball consistently. Obviously, getting the ball in the hands of Deebo Samuel will be huge (just five catches vs. the Broncos). Having tight end George Kittle back for a second week after missing the first two games due to injury will be a big boon as well. Kittle got just four catches for 28 yards last week, but should be targeted more in this game as he reaches his comfort zone. And keep an eye on RB Jeff Wilson Jr., who has run for 159 rushing yards over the last two games. If Wilson and a depleted 49ers O-line can establish a running threat it will go a long way in kick-starting head coach Kyle Shanahan's attack.

2. Rams' pressure D
As you might’ve heard NBC's Cris Collinsworth point out in the Denver game, San Francisco's interior offensive linemen – center Jake Brendel and guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford – combined for just 11 snaps all last season (Burford being a rookie). Add to that, All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams was injured against the Broncos and will miss several games, so you can see why the target on Garappolo’s back gets even bigger when going up against this Rams pass rush. After being sacked four times last week, Garoppolo will be under even more pressure on Monday night with Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Co. coming off a game where they got Kyler Murray out of his comfort zone and kept him frustrated all afternoon long. Also, that matchup of Samuel vs. Jalen Ramsey should be a thing of beauty. Since struggling in Week 1 against Stefon Diggs and the Bills, Ramsey has been targeted 12 times and allowed just five catches.

3. Are we headed for a boring, drab Monday night defensive struggle?
While the Niners did a good job defensively against Russell Wilson and the Broncos, holding them to 261 yards on the night and a mind-boggling 10 drives that resulted in three-and-outs, the Niners' offense was for the most part punchless, as noted above. The defense ranks third in the NFL by giving up just 12.3 points per game. But of course, the Rams come in well-armed with Matthew Stafford starting to heat up. After throwing five picks in the first two games, he hit on 73 percent of his passes against Arizona while averaging an effective 9.96 yards per attempt. Five Rams receivers saw three or more targets last week, including wide receiver Ben Skowronek (4 rec., 66 yds.), as well as tight ends Tyler Higbee (4, 61) and Kendall Blanton (1, 28). Anytime this offense gets production in the passing game from someone other than Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson, it usually leads to good things.

Final Analysis

Outside of the NFC Championship Game loss, San Francisco has dominated the series with Los Angeles recently, winning all six regular-season meetings over the last three years. And these were mostly tight games, with four of the six games decided by a single score. The way these two defenses played last week, we will probably be heading for another low-scoring, down-to-the-wire finish. If Stafford can stay away from serving up some turnovers on a silver platter, I see the Rams escaping this Golden State divisional battle by a wafer-thin margin.

I'm sensing a lot of field goals and punts here. Dang. Where's Howard Cosell when we need him?

Prediction: Rams 16, 49ers 13

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.

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