There’s no question the San Francisco 49ers face a big challenge in Week 18.
The Los Angeles Rams (12-4) welcome San Francisco to SoFi Stadium for the final regular-season game of the season, and with both teams with plenty to play for. The 49ers (9-7) are in the playoffs with a win, while the Rams are division champs with a win.

There are other ways that both teams can accomplish their goals without winning in Week 18, but they’ll be relying on other teams to help. The Atlanta Falcons beating the New Orleans Saints will also secure San Francisco a spot, but Atlanta is simply attempting to be a spoiler in that game, as they are already eliminated from playoff contention at 7-9.

Who the 49ers start at quarterback, Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo, is playing a huge factor in predictions, odds, and expectations. Jimmy Garoppolo missed Week 17 with a UCL sprain in his thumb, but rookie Trey Lance stepped in with a two-touchdown performance.

Sportsline says Los Angeles as a 2.5-point favorite, which is basically the oddsmakers giving a slight edge to the Rams for playing at home. However, as predictions and picks come out, there are several experts that think the Rams are a safe bet on Sunday.

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Experts Makes Picks for 49ers-Rams

The most recognized name to fade the Niners on Sunday is CBS insider Pete Prisco. Unfortunately for San Francisco fans, Prisco foresees a scenario where the 49ers not only lose, but also miss the playoffs entirely.

The expert has the Rams winning 27-20, mentioning that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has had Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay’s number, but that he expects Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to play at a high enough level for the win on Sunday.

He also thinks the Saints will eek out a tight 23-21 win over the Falcons, leaving the 49ers out to dry.

Meanwhile, Sporting News editor Vinnie Iyer expects the Rams to win 24-20, but it’s not quite as dire from a Niners perspective. He also thinks Atlanta gets a win on Sunday, which means that San Francisco still makes the playoffs.

In a similar vein, CBS Sports expert John Breech also has the 49ers losing to the Rams 26-23, but also thinks the Falcons do the Niners a solid with a 19-16 win. Not the best-case scenario, but one that San Francisco fans will take.

Meanwhile, Pro Football Network and FanDuel both predict a 49ers loss through their metrics and breakdowns.


Shanahan vs. McVay

As mentioned above, Shanahan seems to save his best for his competitor and friend in Los Angeles. As PFR shows, the 49ers head coach has won five-straight meetings against McVay, with the latest coming in Week 10 as San Francisco beat the Rams 31-10.

Shanahan and McVay were on the same offensive staff in Washington years ago, and now are successful head coaches in their own right, with both leading their teams to Super Bowl appearances.

While their previous matchups have been in big NFC West games, this one has even more weight with the 49ers fighting for a playoff spot, and the Rams fighting for a division title.