Long/Kaepernick

In their two meetings last season the Rams played the eventual NFC champions as tough as anyone in the NFL by going 1-0-1. This season the 49ers have already comfortably beat the Rams in St. Louis and are looking for a win to hang on to their slim chances in the NFC West race. The 49ers also need the win to hold their spot in the wild card standings. The Rams have been playing better as of late and have earned themselves an outside chance to get back in the playoff race.

A Rams win in San Francisco would get them into the thick of wild card contention. The 49ers are favored in this game but several factors could lead to a letdown for San Francisco. The 49ers played on Monday Night Football against the Redskins in Washington DC; they will be on short week and had to make the cross country flight home on late Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The 49ers may not be as rested as they would normally be for a home game and the physical Rams, who destroyed the Bears last week, could take advantage. This is an intriguing matchup and here are three bold predictions as what we will see on the field Sunday.

The Rams will score a special teams touchdown.

The Rams number one draft pick Tavon Austin has broken out in recent weeks and is finally showing why the Rams traded up to select him in the first round. He has been a great weapon in the passing game and has made huge contributions in the return game. Austin has made such a big impact on special teams; he was name NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. Aside from Austin and the return game, head coach Jeff Fisher has been known to fake field goals and punts and will have something up his sleeve this week.

Michael Crabtree will make his 2013 debut but be ineffective.

The 49ers much maligned passing game will get a long needed boost this week with the return of Michael Crabtree. The 49ers will try to get Crabtree involved throughout the game but will still use him sparingly. The team will treat this as a preseason game for Crabtree to get the rust of and take a few hits before resting him to prepare for the stretch run. Crabtree will have three catches for 40 yards.

The Rams will outplay the 49ers but lose.

The Rams will take advantage of a tired 49ers team and will cause the 49ers offense to struggle. However, this will not be enough for a St. Louis win. Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens will not be able to make enough plays to beat the San Francisco defense on the road. 49ers 20, Rams 17.