While we have focused on how important a Week 17 win could be for the Chicago Bears, it turns out the Los Angeles Rams have a ton to play for, too. And as it turns out, they’ll go into battle without two of their biggest playmakers.
Todd Gurley and Lamarcus Joyner will not play vs 49ers, Rams coach Sean McVay said.
— Gary Klein (@LATimesklein) December 28, 2018
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay told reporters that running back Todd Gurley and safety Lamarcus Joyner will not play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Gurley is recovering from a left knee injury that will cause him to miss a second consecutive week, while Joyner is sitting out due to an ankle injury he suffered late in the team’s Week 16 win against the Arizona Cardinals.
Being without the league’s second-leading rusher on one side of the ball and a primetime player at safety is kind of a big deal, even for a team like the Rams that is squaring off against a bottom-feeding division rival. So this makes it that much easier for the 49ers to pull off an upset that could help the Bears sneak into the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye? Not so fast, my friends. The 49ers are dealing with some injury issues of their own.
No Marquise Goodwin at the start of today’s practice. Looks as if starting WRs might be Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor/Richie James.
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) December 28, 2018
That’s the receiving corps that’s supposed to catch touchdown passes from Nick Mullens on Sunday? Yikes. Good luck with that.
The Bears aren’t the only team with something to play for on Sunday, which makes the simultaneous start times of Bears-Vikings, Rams-49ers, Eagles-Redskins that much more enticing. Wins by the Bears, 49ers, and Eagles would set up a Wild-Card Weekend rematch between the Rams and Eagles in Los Angeles. That would set up a scenario for the Rams where they would have to beat the Eagles, Bears, and Saints – the three teams that have handed Los Angeles losses to this point – in consecutive weeks just to make it to the Super Bowl. If you ask me, beating the Eagles at home (where Philadelphia has already won this season), the Bears on the road at a probably frigid Soldier Field, and the Saints (who haven’t lost a home playoff game in the Drew Brees-Sean Payton era) in back-to-back-to-back weeks seems like a daunting task.
With that in mind, the Rams have all the motivation to go all-out to beat the 49ers and avoid that scenario in the process. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past a 49ers team that gave the Bears all it could handle to put it all on the table and leave it all on the field to stick it to an NFC West rival that has won the division each of the last two seasons.