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The San Francisco 49ers have owned the Los Angeles Rams over the last several seasons, winning the last six meetings over their NFC West rivals. The last time Los Angeles beat San Francisco was in the final week of the 2018 regular season, the year the Rams reached Super Bowl LIII.

Since Kyle Shanahan turned the 49ers into NFC contenders, Sean McVay and the Rams just haven't been able to beat them. If the Rams fall to the 49ers on Sunday, McVay will be the first coach to lose seven straight times to a single opponent since Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals) lost eight games in a row to Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers). Even though the Rams are home, Los Angeles appears to be the underdog since it hasn't been able to beat the 49ers. 

How hard is it for the 49ers to beat the Rams again? This NFC Championship Game will be the fourth conference championship game between intra-divisional opponents since the 2002 realignment, yet only one has swept their division opponent heading into the conference championship (2008 Pittsburgh Steelers swept the Baltimore Ravens then proceeded to beat them in the conference championship). 

The 49ers can become the seventh team since 2000 to beat a team three times in the same season. Is the challenge to go 3-0 against an opponent that tough? Looking at the playoff matchups since the AFL-NFL merger where one opponent has swept the other in the regular season, let's see if history favors the 49ers. 

YearSweeping team (regular season)Team sweptPlayoff result

1982

Dolphins

Jets

Dolphins won 14-0

1983

Seahawks

Raiders

Raiders won 30-14

1986

Giants

Washington

Giants won 17-0

1989

Oilers

Steelers

Steelers won 26-23

1991

Chiefs

Raiders

Chiefs won 10-6

1992

Chiefs

Chargers

Chargers won 17-0

1993

Raiders

Broncos

Raiders won 42-24

1994

Vikings

Bears

Bears won 35-18

1994

Steelers

Browns

Steelers won 29-9

1997

Packers

Buccaneers

Packers won 21-7

1997

Patriots

Dolphins

Patriots won 17-3

1998

Cowboys

Cardinals

Cardinals won 20-7

1999

Titans

Jaguars

Titans won 33-14

2000

Giants

Eagles

Giants won 20-10

2002

Steelers

Browns

Steelers won 36-33

2004

Packers

Vikings

Vikings won 31-17

2004

Rams

Seahawks

Rams won 27-20

2007

Cowboys

Giants

Giants won 21-17

2008

Steelers

Ravens

Steelers won 23-14

2009

Cowboys

Eagles

Cowboys won 34-14

2017

Saints

Panthers

Saints won 31-26

2020

Saints

Buccaneers

Buccaneers won 30-20

Teams going for the three-game sweep in the playoffs are 14-8, a win percentage of 63.6%. The adage of "it's hard to beat a team three times in a season" has been debunked, especially since those teams going for the three-game sweep are 6-3 since 2000 (a win percentage of 66.7%, which is actually higher than the overall win percentage since the merger). 

The Rams are trying to avoid the three-game sweep on their home turf, which is only the fifth time this has happened in NFL history. The home team is 2-2 when playing the third matchup at home after being swept earlier in the year. The team going for the sweep playing on the road has won their last two matchups -- the 1999 Tennessee Titans and the 2004 St. Louis Rams. That 1999 Titans team handed the Jaguars their only three losses of the season. 

When the third matchup is the conference championship game, the team going for the sweep is 4-1. The 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers are the only team this century to play the third matchup in the conference championship game, so there isn't much recent history to fall back on.

History does favor the 49ers when looking at the big picture of the third matchup, yet the task will be difficult on the road. The 49ers are familiar with SoFi Stadium and are expected to have a contingent of fans entering opposing territory, which should also help them attempt beat the Rams for the seventh straight time.