The Rams have sold out SoFi Stadium for the NFC Championship. If the Rams fans who have bought the tickets choose to sell them (and turn a tidy profit), they can.
Coach Sean McVay hopes they won’t.
“I thought the Monday night atmosphere [against the Cardinals] was electric and looking to create something [similar] — and even that much more — for the NFC Championship,” McVay told reporters on Monday. “[I’m] really grateful for those Rams fans. Hold onto those tickets and it’ll be much appreciated. But our guys are looking forward to putting on a good show against a great opponent. Can’t wait to be able to do it and don’t sell those tickets!”
It’s not just a joke or a bit. The Rams had to deal with an influx of 49ers fans in Week 18 so significant that it forced the Rams to use a silent count.
“What catches you off guard is, they do a great job traveling,” McVay said. “They got a really loyal fan base. They’ve got a great tradition, and history, and it’s a short trip. So, credit to them. They made it difficult where in a lot of instances, you’re kind of absent of your verbal communication. If they get as loud as they were when our offense was on the field — in certain parts of the field it was really noisy. It was really difficult to operate. And so, you almost have to handle that situation like you would an away game.”
McVay is hopeful that the situation will be different for the game that will determine the NFC’s Super Bowl representative.
“I’m really hopeful and would be grateful for these Rams fans to show up,” McVay said. “I thought the atmosphere on Monday Night Football, in the first playoff game ever on Monday Night Football, against the Cardinals was electric. It majorly gave us an advantage and our players a big boost. Looking forward to the same thing on Sunday afternoon for the NFC Championship. Our fans will be really proud of the way that these guys will come out and compete. I am looking forward to feeling their support because they’re a big factor for us – just like they were against Arizona. I feel confident they will be this Sunday.”
The mixture of Rams and 49ers fans will impact the game, obviously. McVay wouldn’t have said so much about it on Monday if it wasn’t a major factor. The question for the week of practice becomes whether and to what extent McVay prepares his players for dealing with crowd noise.
At some point, McVay will need to make a bet. The best bet could be to prepare for noise. It’s always easier to pivot to dealing with less than to transition to dealing with more.